Friday, 12 August 2016

It Doesn't Make Any 'Census' to Me!

Will their be a Test on it Later?

This Tuesday 9th August was Census night here in Australia. 

The official  'Counting of the People'  to find out what jobs we did, how many kids we might have made since the last tot-up, the religion with which we devoted ourselves to and with what language we prefered to do it all in.

This year was different though because THIS year – we could do it online!

And so we dutifully logged onto our computers after a hard day at work, as per instruction, only to watch in frustration... shock... horror... and disbelief as the entire Census website crashed into a million pieces shattering itself all over our lounge room floors.


Elderly opting for hardcopy on Census night
It seemed like such a good idea at the time...

Rumours of 'hackers' infiltrating from overseas were bandied about, or (depending on who you asked)... that the system was shut down on purpose by the Statistics people - for security reasons to 'protect the data' don't you know. 

But then the PM hopped on board saying how smoothly it was all going and how he filled in his Census in a matter of minutes, it was that darn easy peay.   

Whatever the truth behind the debacle of Tuesday night (and do we really care?), I found it interesting to note that the majority of my elderly clients had no inkling of all the technological fuss and bother we'd just experienced – BECAUSE THEY DID THEIRS ON PAPER!

Oblivious to all the IT angst we younger folk had been suckered into, the Mature-Ager instead, if he or she so desired, got to ring up and order a hard copy be sent to them in the post. Meaning they could settle in and complete their Census paperwork at the kitchen table with only a working ball-point pen and hot cup of tea to worry about.

A nice mint slice too, for the really Census-ly committed.

In fact I've been visiting my client's homes all week to find many of them still in Censussing mode.  Squeezing in a tick here, a tick there...between a trip to the shops or a scheduled doctor appointment... then back to it they go, biro in hand...tickety, tick, TICK.  

Because for some of my elderly Beloveds, it's a thrill just to have a small bit of purpose thrust into their fairly low-key lives.  And by limiting themselves to only the one page of tantalising ticking a day, the truly Census-savvy can stretch out the excitement for at least a fortnight!

Amusing too, is the accompanying commentary they share with me.  Reminds me how witty these playful Pensioners with their wry senses of humour, can actually be when they try:

“Gee, I had to think hard about some of these questions, Dollie. Makes you wonder how all the stupid people get on?”

“If not enough of us tick 'Christian', do you think they will end up cancelling Christmas?”

"Fictional nonsense, this Census business.  I've bought my mother back alive twice over the last 20 years of doing this rubbish - and they haven't picked me up on it!"

“Better get on with my 'homework' then, Dollie. I feel like I'm back at school! Do you think there will be a test on it later?”

“Charlie always loved a good Census... said it made him feel 'Australian'! I toyed with including him in the numbers, I mean... they aren't to know he's sitting in an urn on the mantelpiece, are they?”

“Census? More like 'Senseless' if you ask me!”

Needless to say, we here at my house are still poised waiting to launch Operation Census Online. Luckily, they have informed us on the telly that we have until mid-September before they start dishing out the fines for non-completion.

Perhaps, just to be safe, they should consider extending that 'til Christmas?

Assuming we still have one that is...

Christmas cancelled by the Census?
Can I be yellow?

Dollie  (Person 2)

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Knock, Knock, Knocking on Harriet's Door

When being Safe - becomes UNSAFE

While it's all very well that my elderly clients feel safe and snug inside their own homes - it's an absolute pain in the bum when they inadvertently lock themselves in.... AND CAN'T OPEN THE DOOR!

Mrs Harriet Holdfast is 88 years old and is as sharp as a tack.  Unfortunately, she suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and also a rare and painful bone disease that has caused her spine to become quite stooped.  As a result, poor Harriet is prone to falls (she's had about 100 while I've known her) and doesn't go out much anymore because it's all too hard and she'd rather stay at home "where I can keep out of trouble."

Elderly locking themselves in their own homes
Note:  this isn't actually Harriet
...just someone equally as suspicious 

Subsequently, Harriet has become quite the recluse.  Having no immediate family and spending a lot of time being alone, puddling about at home with not much to do and little motivation to bother, she has taken to snooping on her neighbours through twitching net curtains and keeping close guard on everything that happens in her street.

Throw in the strong medication Harriet must take for her back pain, and a lack of sleep from the side-effects - she has also become quite paranoid.

To the point of being obsessive, Harriet now suspects anyone walking past her house of being an intruder. Clearly, they are 'casing the joint' as part of a master plan to break in during the night to pilfer her great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother's sapphire-encrusted brooches and empty the Royal Doulton from her china cabinet.

The postie Nigel, who comes every morning on his little red scooter is working undercover as a spy for the government and elderly Mr Stevens next door has been secretly poisoning her fig tree with chemicals he saved up from when he worked as a technician in the Navy.

The ladies at the local Senior Citizens club only want to visit "so they can steal my scone recipes" and the bank is siphoning cash from her account so they can send money offshore to fund a terrorism campaign that will ultimately mark the end of the world as we know it.

THEREFORE.... in order to keep all these bad people at bay, Harriet has had installed a plethora of home security gadgets such as deadlocks, chains and peep-holes - including grilled security doors that are so solid she needs to take a run up just to move them!

For goodness sake, some days when I visit Harriet, it's like Fort Knox hearing her sliding bolts and clinking keys before she finally gets the door open to let me in.

Unless, as happened today.... SHE COULDNT FIND HER KEY!

"Oh dear, sorry Dollie but the key to the screen door isn't working... or have I got the wrong key?  Oh, it's got to be one of these..."

Not only did this seem an annoying time-wasting exercise, but while I stood there waiting for the gate-keeper of the Tower of London to release her drawbridge, it dawned on me that it was also a massive hazard for Harriet to be, literally, locked inside her own home like this.

What if her house was on fire - how would she get out?

What if she was having a medical emergency - how would the ambulance people get in?

Ten minutes on and still no-go!  Harriet by this stage had become quite flustered and I had to instruct her instead to send the enormous bunch of keys out through the window so I could have a crack from the outside.

We got there in the end (17 keys later arrgh!) but I have since informed the office that the issue of Harriet's over-securityness needed to be dealt with.

Ironically, at the end of the day... and it doesn't seem right when you say it out loud... but for her own safety ---- Harriet Holdfast needed to be LESS safe!

“I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I'm not afraid to look behind them.” 

Keeping elderly people safe at home
On ya, Lizzy!


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The Goodbye Wave

Toodle-Pip... Ta-Tah... See You Next Time!

I don't know about you, but I have very fond memories of my grandparents (both sets) waving us off from the top of their porch steps.  Of course that's after the obligitory round of goodbye kisses, hugs and hair ruffling that seemed to go on forever, before we finally got to bundle ourselves into the car for the ride home.  

Whether it was the Sunday family lunch gathering or just a random 'pop by' – it didn't matter the reason for the visit or how long we were there for, it was just one of those standard heart-felt things that my grandparents did when it came time to seal the deal and bid us farewell.

And I remember too, if we turned round at any stage during the departure, as mum or dad manouvered the car, that they would still be standing there, happily waving and watching for our return waves through the back window as we slowly ebbed away out of view.

Bye, bye, dears....Love you!”

I sometimes wondered, after we had gone, how long they might have stayed there!  Just waving away... clinging on to happy times in a now empty driveway.  Lovely too, was that even after the granddads passed away, both grandmothers continued the waving custom alone, never missing a beat.

Definitely out of habit, and I was too young to realise then, but it was likely that this cherished routine was the final thrust in my grandparent's crusade to squeeze out as much family 'together' time as they possibly could. 

I wish now, in hindsight, that I had waved much much harder.

Elderly waving goodbye to their Carers
Bye-bye for now, Dot!

As it turns out, my grandparents were not the only 'wavers' I would ever have the pleasure of. 

Now, through my travels in Aged-Care visiting elderly adults in their own homes, I am lucky enough to meet a client here and there, who insists on a similar goodbye performance when its time for me to leave.

In fact some of my Beloveds even go so far as to walk me right out to my car!  Chatting all the way we link arms and admire the garden or analyse the weather as we go.  Unfortunately, for the less sprightly of my clients, I then have to turn round and walk (or wheel) them back inside again!  But I don't mind in the slightest because it's a nice little moment that I know will bring a significant amount of joy to someone else's day.  

Can you imagine it though, me driving off and leaving a wobbly Pensioner clinging to his letterbox?
I don't think so!  

"Off we go... let's get you back inside again, Mr Gadabout!"

Assisting elderly people to be mobile
Hop on and I'll wheel you in, Mr G !

Another of my ladies whom I've helped for about a year now, 86year old Dottie Dewhurst, makes it her business to escort me out onto her front steps where she likes to wait, waving goodbye, as I hop in my car.  Having become quite absent-minded (recently diagnosed with early stage Dementia), to her it's the most natural thing in the world, the same as she would after a visit from any close friend or family member - except that I am neither.

"I'll see you off, Dollie”

In my rearview mirror I see her surveying the rosebushes for dead-heads as she continues her well-rehearsed wave, leaning on the rail so she stays in my sights.  Then, just as I reach the end of her drive and I do my return wave back, she looks up at that last second when I've straightened up and am about to disappear from her view.

A final flourish with her wrist finishes it all off!

And it's funny... as I pause for a brief moment to watch her go back inside, I'm struck by feelings of nostalgia and a flashback to warm fuzzy childhood days that leaves me with the involuntary urge to let slip a “Bye-bye....Love you!”


Friday, 29 July 2016

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Good Morning, Worm Annie!

"I used to love reading to the Prep kids at the local primary school - a couple of days a week  I'd pop in.  It was good fun.

Course, I'm not able to do it now because my legs won't let me... they only had the tiny chairs.  These days I'd make it down... but I'd never get back up.  Oh dear!

I used to tell the boys and girls all about Recycling too.  And how important it was for everyone to tidy up and wash out their milk bottles so they wouldn't go all smelly in the bins. 

They used to call me "Worm Annie" because I'd tell them how worms were good for the garden and I remember we got the school janitor chap to build us a compost bin so we could 'grow' our own worms.  They loved it.  Even the girls got stuck into it.

Ha ha, I remember when a new teacher started and on her first day the children all called out "here comes Worm Annie"  - she got a bit upset with them because she thought they were being mean to me!"

- Mrs Anne Wetgrass, aged 86yrs
(Raving recycler and knock-kneed knitting addict)

Elderly teaching kids about life
...icky WORMS!

The Barry's Big Bash

A story about losing a spouse, rotten timing and me putting my foot in it.

It was a chilly one, the day I blundered into Mr Rupert 'Barry' Barrymore’s front room - a day I won’t forget even if I wanted to.  Barry and his wife Edwina were both now well into their 90’s (mid, at least) and had been married for an impressive 70 years... well, very nearly 70 years should I say.

They lived blissfully together in their large two-storied house that they admitted was now far too big for just the pair of them.  But it was the family home and they had raised all nine of their sons in it "...and we're not going anywhere, Dollie!"

NINE BOYS!!!  (I know right?)

After more than four years of fortnightly Home Care visits to the Barry's, we had our routine beautifully choreographed.  And Barry would always joke as he wheeled the chair-bound 'Eddie' out of her spot in the lounge room to be temporarily parked in the kitchen to make way for me with the vacuum cleaner.

“Oh, Eddie and I seem to rattle about in this place like a couple of lose screws!”

Cheeky Barry was the sole carer of quietly content Edwina who 15 years ago, had been diagnosed with Leukaemia.  Their boys had all grown up and scattered far and wide so it was all up to him to look after her as best he could.  And considering his age and a few niggling health issues (throw in a smidge of assistance from the council’s Home & Community Care department), Barry was actually managing quite-nicely-thank-you-very-much.

And he did it proudly, without a dot of reservation.

"Because she’s my girl, Dollie… always has been… always will be.”

And I tell him he’s a romantic fool and he laughs like it’s the wittiest thing in the world.

“Got our 70th wedding anniversary coming up next month, Dollie.  Can you believe it?  The lads and all the grandies, great-grandies AND great-great-grandies are coming home and throwing us a big party at the RSL.  Eddie is getting her hair and face all done up... plus the local newspaper wants to take photos".  

"It should be a swell time!”

It was heart-melting seeing them both anticipating their Big Day (and hearing the word 'swell' being used so nonchalantly).  Although it was clear that it was more about the family being back together again that they looked forward to rather than the fuss and bother of the event itself.

As Eddie whispered to me one morning during the planning stage, "It's going to be so exhausting - I shall sleep for a week afterwards, Dollie!"

Sharing happy times with Clients
Pink and pwetty...
(The official Barrymore invitation)

Fast forward a couple of weeks later and I couldn’t WAIT for my visit to find out how the celebrations had panned out...

A grey wet Tuesday, and in I strode to get the lo-down on the 'Barry' ho-down.  Rows and rows of cards lined the hallway shelves, covered table tops and escorted me all the way into the kitchen where I found lovely Barry sitting quietly doing a crossword.  Or just staring at the crossword was probably more it.

Hmm... must’ve been a bloody good night - he's still pooped!  As I plonked down beside him I touched his shoulder so he didn't get a fright (prone to a bit of deafness is our Barry).

“Looks like someone’s had a bit too much partying, eh Barry!”

It was then when I went to do my usual silly-billy wave to Edwina at her favourite posi in the lounge that I saw the empty wheel chair.  And a noticeably gaunt Barry smiled as he looked up at me with the most pained eyes to tell me how just the day before their big party, “Dollie, I lost my girl.”

The impressive multitude of greeting cards that I’d assumed were congratulatory Anniversary cards turned out instead, to be Deepest Sympathy cards.

Poor Ed... was dead.

I was absolutely stunned. But unfortunately, it's par for the course in the Aged-Care industry.  You would think I'd be used to it by now.

Although an honest mistake, I couldn't help but feel like the winner of the Most Insensitive Ninny competition. Barry Barrymore of course was completely dismissive about it all.

"You weren't to know, Dollie" which of course made me blub even more.  "And she went in her sleep surrounded by her family, just what she always wanted".  This sweet kind man with his heart, broken in half... making ME a cup of tea so I could feel better.

Just so, so, so, so unfair.

Death of a spouse
Not-so-jolly balloons...


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Having a Luff

"We are always weeth the joking, yesss?  

I luff when I see you, Dolleee... we make very funny weeth zee funny jokes.  Your sparkling eyes, Dolleeee... zay make me smile everreee week when you come.

LIFE!   Eeeet is too short!  

People, they need to be weeth zee luffing all zee time, Dolleeeee.
Just like theesss.


-  Alex Lottaluffski, aged 91
(Still maintaining a stouty Bulgarian accent - and the bestest lemon tree in town!)

Having a laugh with your elderly client
... eeet's zee Luffing Lemon!