When I worked as an Occupational Therapist I spent much of my time looking after the Elderly in ‘Geriatric care’ or following surgery. You can see and witness some gruelling things at times in care of the elderly and for a lot of people it is not their cup of tea for area of work, but I always enjoyed it and found the patients always taught me something, even if that was patience and ‘holding my tongue!”
Growing old is a certainty for everyone. For many, it fills them with fear and for some, incredible pain. It is our duty of care as health care professionals and family to ensure this is reduced and eliminated if possible and whilst they are poorly ensure they are made to feel as comfortable as possible. For these people have lived life and seen far more than I have. They deserve some TLC now.
I was always a big fan of the people and not the politics. My job in essence was supposed to be about improving independence in a holistic and client centred approach to ensure a patient could return home safely and in the manner in which they would like to live. Ok so not five-star accommodation and butler service, but so they could still take a bath, or get a cup of tea even, and if this was not possible, ensure the most appropriate care package was put in place so they could still go home.
The reality of this was often somewhat different and I did find myself at the centre of discharge facilitation, rather than rehabilitation. The aim was to try to prevent ‘bed blockers’ which is a term many health care professional hate, because you are hardly blocking a bed if you are not safe to go home! Some of the ward rounds were quite fierce as I am sure you can imagine.
However the Elderly (or ‘older person’ as my Grandma who is 81 likes to say and still bombs about in her car to visit me) are the most magic kind of people, as they have seen and witnessed so much in life and have a brilliant intellect, a practiced ability to be manipulative, rude, brutality honest, wonderfully romantic and nostalgic and are the greatest story tellers and they get away with it all!
Some of the phrases I have heard over the years:
‘Your hair is a disgrace to the nursing profession!’ (My hair was short!)
‘My, don’t you have fat ankles”
‘If you could hurry up love, I have to train for the Olympics’
‘I’d like you on toast’
‘Don’t worry love – if you need to take my knickers off you can, no one has been down there for years!”
This week I went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – for the Elderly and the Beautiful, at the cinema. The cast included Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith to name a few so I knew it would be good.
However is was better than good, it was unpredictable. thought-provoking, witty, emotional and I was a tearful but joyful wreck by the end but in a good way! I don’t want to tell you the story as it would spoil it for you but it is set in india and includes:
- A marriage built on lies
- a marriage built out of loyalty and habit
- a lost love due to lack of courage,
- A search for inner youth,
- A defiance to get old,
- A rejuvenation of life,
- A fresh start,
- Life beginning again and
- Still learning lessons in life.
It was inspiring. As a woman about to approach her 30th Birthday in two weeks (who has feared looking 40 due to how tiring three toddlers are), it has made be put things in perspective. Life is on the verge of just beginning. I have opportunity to achieve so much, change so much, add to my family and share it all with my husband. I am going to grow old, not with dignity and grace, but with a feeling that I have lived. That is surely more important.
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