Friday, December 14, 2012

Moving the Toothbrush

I am always one for fresh opportunities. I remember reading a few years ago that as we age we should challenge ourselves a little more each day to keep that vital creative spark going. Sleep on a different side of the bed. Move the toothbrush to the other side of the sink. And suit up and show up if something interests us.

I had a call the other day from an acquaintance.

"Would you be interested in a few hours of a different type of work from time to time?"

"Well... if it doesn't involve housework, maybe yes."

"The situation is this. You remember my elderly mother?"

"Oh yes! Mabel is delightful!"

"Well, she feels the same about you and she's staying with us now and we need the odd break in town so would you be able to companion her during those times, we would pay you, of course."

"With advance notice I don't see a problem."

"And I should also mention she is showing early signs of Alzheimer's or dementia. This is heart breaking for us all."

"Not a problem, maybe I can read to her, or see what she'd like to do."

Aging fascinates me. I love my elderly friends. What is elderly to me now? Over 80. Mabel is in her late eighties. I know that both physical failing and less mental agility can strike quite suddenly. Days are precious as we age. There are no guarantees.

I am so fortunate I am healthy enough to provide this kind of service. I even thought of a business name "Elders for Elders". Many have told me that most young minders can't relate at all to elder needs. And I want to learn. About me.

Yes, moving the toothbrush. I think I can do it.

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Anonymous Grannymar said...

Great idea. Older people have such wonderful back stories and we soon realise how easy our life is.

I move bedrooms every few months. I wake up to a different view, need to remember which side of the bed to get out of for the all important nocturnal walk and it keeps the beds aired!

Fri Dec 14, 12:50:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Government Funded Blogger said...

What is elderly? Maybe its all in my head.Around here elderly is 95 but then again maybe not.A ninety five year old we know gave up down hill skiing last winter after a lifetime of enjoying that sport but continued on the cross country circuit.
A ninety two year old friend of ours still curls ,still Skips her team,still wants to kick your ass and still slides out of the hack when most of us young'uns are using a stick.

Move my tooth brush? Hell no most days I forget where i put my

Fri Dec 14, 01:00:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Hattie said...

This is such a good idea. You were so smart to stipulate that you were there to provide companionship.

Fri Dec 14, 01:07:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Stubblejumpin Gal said...

I've a friend who encourages me to get out of my "comfort zone" at least once a week.
Me: "Why? I've spent all these years trying to GET comfortable!"
Oh I know it's smart to challenge yourself, to boldly go ... etc ... but I think maybe I'll just switch the drawers for my toothbrush from time to time and call it a day.

You will enjoy your time with this lady, and paid for it, too! Coolness.

Fri Dec 14, 01:14:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Twilight said...

So, do you have to "live-in" with her, or just visit, or does she come to live with you, WWW? She'd probably enjoy making friends with Ansa too. :-) It'll be good for the three of y'all - and no doubt the lady will happily provide grist for our favourite storyteller's mill too. We'll look forward to reading of it.

Fri Dec 14, 01:56:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Molly said...

Lucky Mabel.....

Fri Dec 14, 03:07:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

You gave me some ideas.
Everything too comfortable
and familar in this cottage.
I will change a few things :)
Maybe sleep on the loft tonight
instead of my comfy room...

Fri Dec 14, 03:57:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger mel said...


Fri Dec 14, 07:42:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Anne said...

What Molly said. Lucky Mabel.

Fri Dec 14, 11:37:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Irene said...

I would not have enough patience for something like that. I am not Mother Theresa I'm afraid. I admire you for taking it on and wish you luck. Elderly does not automatically mean lovable in my book.

Sat Dec 15, 11:00:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

I must try this myself, what a wonderful thing to do, no wonder you're a sharp tack!!

Sat Dec 15, 11:38:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Unfortunately, those are the exceptions and we tend to glorify them (I know I do), when the norm is far, far different.
One of the saddest afflictions I see is pneumonia which crawls into elder rooms at night and weakens them so incredibly. Also broken bits from falls.

Sat Dec 15, 11:39:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

I can't even clean my own house not to mind others!!!

Sat Dec 15, 11:40:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

I am only experimenting, it may not be for me at all. but nothing ventured nothing gained!

Sat Dec 15, 11:40:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Oh no T, it is just a few hours (max 3 they tell me) in her daughter's house while daughter and her husband go off and do nice things. One of those marriages of "still in love after fifty years." they actually go to spas together. Nice to be around that kind of energy.

Sat Dec 15, 11:42:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

How sweet of you to say so!

Sat Dec 15, 11:43:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

I can hardly wait for this one!

Sat Dec 15, 11:43:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Thank you, and maybe I'm paying it forward for my own good karma in future!

Sat Dec 15, 11:44:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


Ugh Mother Teresa -

I know this woman, she is extraordinarily lovable.


Sat Dec 15, 11:45:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Anonymous nick said...

You're right, we oldies have to keep challenging ourselves so we don't fall into a mindless, apathetic rut. I know so many elderly folk who just sit around all day feeling despondent.

Sat Dec 15, 11:59:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger My Grama's Soul said...

Look at you!!......I think this is so great you are going to do this....The elderly are so overlooked in our society....and what do they say" It takes know one." LOL LOL LOL....I would love to do this type of work here where I live......what a great idea.



Sat Dec 15, 02:07:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

I know I keep challenging myself with new pieces of technology too and the most successful elders I know embrace it as well - one is close to 100.
Depression is a close cousin of boredom.

Sat Dec 15, 06:30:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Welcome Jo!

How do we kindred spirits find each other I wonder?

Now I'm off to visit you!


Sat Dec 15, 06:31:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Anonymous Rummuser said...

Bravo! I admire you.

Sun Dec 16, 12:11:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Well Ramana:
You have been an amazing example to me (by their deeds ye shall know them) by taking care of your nasty old father for so long. Forbearance. Patience. Wow!

Sun Dec 16, 12:16:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Secret Agent Woman said...

I love this post, and I imagine the job will be a blessing to both of you.

I've often thought that when I retire and have time available, I'd like to do volunteer work in a neonatal unit, cuddling babies who need that. Ones born prematurely or addicted, but who have no one to just sit with them and hold them.

Sun Dec 16, 01:09:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

I have that feeling too. A friend of mine knits tiny caps for the neonatals and visits them to hold them and sing to them.
Lovely thought, hold on to it!!

Sun Dec 16, 07:41:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


Oh - you crazy adventurer you!


Sun Dec 16, 11:33:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Annie said...

I think the idea of young elders providing companionship to older elders is a great idea. As I get older I am more and more appreciative of the stories and experience of those older than me; I was not so interested in that sort of thing in "my youth".

Around where I am VON has a service where volunteers call elders a few times a week just to chat, they particularly favour older volunteers for that service. It gives older shut-ins a chance to socialize and at the same time inobtrusively keeps an eye out for them.

Some of the people called aren't particularly interested in long conversations, they just check in and say everything is fine here (or not) and that's that. But the ones that do want to chat get to do that. And the folks I know who do that kind of volunteer work say it is a pleasure to do, they look forward to making their calls.

Mon Dec 17, 09:22:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

What a great idea, I've been doing some thinking about this. There are many elders in the area and most are not interested in interacting at all. I think too much exposure to Basketweaving 101 has done their heads in.
I wrote an article about this. Elders want to determine how to spend their time, not forced into bingo and jolly songs around the piano.

Mon Dec 17, 11:35:00 AM GMT-3:30  

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