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.




30 comments:

  1. 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!

    ReplyDelete
  2. 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 slippers..lol

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

    ReplyDelete
  4. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  6. 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...

    ReplyDelete
  7. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  8. GM:
    I must try this myself, what a wonderful thing to do, no wonder you're a sharp tack!!
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  9. GFB:
    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.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hattie:
    I can't even clean my own house not to mind others!!!
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  11. SJG:
    I am only experimenting, it may not be for me at all. but nothing ventured nothing gained!
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  12. 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.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  13. Molly:
    How sweet of you to say so!
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  14. Mel:
    I can hardly wait for this one!
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anne:
    Thank you, and maybe I'm paying it forward for my own good karma in future!
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  16. Irene:

    Ugh Mother Teresa - no.thank.you.
    Ever!!!

    I know this woman, she is extraordinarily lovable.

    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  17. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  18. 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 one....to know one." LOL LOL LOL....I would love to do this type of work here where I live......what a great idea.

    xo

    Jo

    ReplyDelete
  19. Nick:
    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.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  20. Welcome Jo!

    How do we kindred spirits find each other I wonder?

    Now I'm off to visit you!

    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  21. 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!
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  22. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  23. SAW:
    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!!
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  24. OWJ:

    Oh - you crazy adventurer you!

    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  25. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Annie:
    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.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete

Some of you are having trouble, I've removed captcha and verification so we'll see how that goes. My apologies. Blogger is putting up far too many roadblocks. Thanks for the emails alerting me.
wisewebwomanatgmail.com