Monday, 17 April 2017

When is 'The End of the Road' for Older Drivers?

Make Way, Kids... Bernice is Comin' Through!!

Being rather topical at the moment, there's a lot to be said about older adults and driving and whether or not they should even BE behind the wheel 'at their age'.

Just about anyone you ask has their own take on this subject, along with plenty of reasons (and possibly a good road rage incident or three) to justify their particular view.

In my opinion (such as it is), I feel we are each so distinctly individual and therefore a person's driving abilities, their physical condition (eyesight, reflexes, medical issues, sanity(!) etc) should all be taken into consideration and then judged in their own right.

Or in some cases - NOT right.

Let's face it, some people should NEVER be let loose on the roads regardless of what their age might be!  To be honest, I have a couple of my own friends still in their 40's, whom I could easily slot into this category (knuckle-clenching is the best word I would use to describe a trip in the car with these clowns).

Having said all that, there does seem to be a noticeable wave of Senior drivers accidentally landing their cars into the front rooms of innocent people's homes recently.  In fact every other week we turn on the telly and get told about the latest dear old biddy who has, for whatever reason, become confused and ploughed her 1987 Toyota Corolla into a toddler's bedroom or a schoolyard full of children.

We cross our fingers that no one was injured (or worse).  Followed then by a rolling of our eyes as we make rash generalised statements that anyone of such advanced years (over 70?... over 80?... older?) should be made to sit a special test to prove themselves drive-worthy.


Arguably, the next news item is then horrific footage showing some hoon 20-something, showing off to his girlfriend, horrendously breaking the speed limit, high on some illegal substance - WHATEVER.  But it's resulted in him wrapping himself and his car around a pole, and wiping out the electricity supply across four suburbs

More significantly, and so painfully heart-wrenching, is the mother and six children coming the opposite way, who are killed instantly in their family staton wagon, 

Both scenarios are shocking and bloody terrifying whichever way you want to look at it.

So in the meantime, as you mull that over... let's cheer things up a bit with this little gem (although a bit hypocritical of me, yes):

Old People behind the wheel

Buckle up, Bruno!

The dog's eyes (looks like a Bruno, to me) in this photo speak volumes in the confidence he has in this sweet old girl's abilities.  Hopefully he lives to tell the tale...

<insert timid WOOF sound here>

She looks like she means it though - and I'm dam sure I wouldn't wanna mess with her!

Stay safe out there, folks and happy travels,

.....BEEP, BEEP!!!


Thursday, 9 March 2017

When Young People Talk to Old People, BADLY.

Teaching our Kids Not to be Wimpy in the Art of Conversation!

It must be wonderful knowing that your teenage son or daughter is mature enough to hold an ACTUAL conversation with your adult friends. Seeing them chat away freely when introduced; radiating confidence galore when asked if they are enjoying their new high school, all the time maintaining solid eye contact and without a dot of embarrassment or discomfort.

While you stand alongside, glowing with pride and marvelling at what clearly must be some pretty bloody fabulous parenting skills.

Today I discovered that my 13 year old son... did not possess such ability.

Not even close, in fact.

As a mum who thought she'd had it all covered ie: good manners, gracious conduct, appropriate behaviour and the biggie: Respect for others... it came as a rude slap in the chops, as I watched Junior's social skills crumble and turn totally to mush.

An ideal location to meet and engage in friendly banter with Seniors, it's common knowledge in aged-care circles, that a doctor's waiting room is 'top of the pops' to test even the most experienced of gasbags! Our visit this morning, thanks to my son's recent sporting injury (long story, don't ask), was for follow-up x-rays and to be given the all clear to have the annoying brace on his arm removed.

Elderly people going to Doctor
A sea of Silver-tops!

It was as we sat bored waiting to be called, when an older smartly-dressed gent with a walking stick and twinkly eyes, leaned over to my son and asked in a fairly loud tone (hearing issues, obviously), what he'd “done to himself".

I continued reading my mag, confident that Chatterbox Charlie (as he is known at home and at school), would be equally as open and friendly. The two of them would yak away in 'blokey' fashion and by the time we left they'd be the bestest of buddies, with hugs goodbye and promises to meet for tea and biscuits one day soon.

But, what was this? Instead no, Junior was beside himself! Turning sharply to look at me, his face strained in terror... he was actually pleading me with his eyes, as if to say “Oh god, please Mum, SAVE ME!”

Mortified with the realisation that my own dear son was indeed a complete social weenie after all, I attempted to verbally prompt him so he could explain to the nice inquiring man how he had sprained his arm in a game of football.

“But you're sposed to use your leg to kick the footy – not you're arm!”, the old guy joked, encouraging my son to join in.

As Junior turned bright red and awkwardly squeaked out some sort of inaudible response (all the time staring down at the floor wishing the tiles would open up and pull him down into the deep, dark depths of the earth where no scary old dudes could ever find him)... it dawned on me that some people might actually find conversation with an elderly person intimidating.

And I get that.

Growing up as a shy young teen, I remember myself the feeling of horror when an adult would talk to me – especially one I didn't know well. The worry of not knowing what to say, or sounding silly if I did say something, or being judged and thought an idiot. It was cause for some real anxiety!

In lieu of that thought, I decided my son needed a lesson in the art of conversation, STAT! Time for me to earn that Mother of the Year title and get him properly prepped and trained up on some good old-fashioned Communication Skills 101.

Yes, I would be doing this for me (and my shattered pride), but more significantly, I was doing it for my sad, socially inept son. It was imperative that in today's frantic and fiercely competitive world, that he be an efficient communicator; to gain the advantage over his peers by being able to competently talk and earn respect from older adults.

To impress the pants off his teachers, his footy coach or even his own grandparents by engaging them in some light, but thoughtful bit of chit-chat!

And at the same time, emphasise to my son that it didn't matter what age a person was. That all it took was a little friendliness and a smidge of empathy to show kindness towards another human being and to make them feel good. That some elderly people spend days, sometimes weeks, sitting alone in their homes, desperate for company and to feel part of the community.

Could he imagine what that must be like?

Elderly suffering Loneliness
Only the Lonely...

So while the old chap and I laughed and chatted about the weather, his dreadful arthritis and the price of petrol, I felt Junior watching on taking it all in. I wasn't completely daft; I knew in reality my son's interest would be only fleeting and that soon enough he'd tune out, switch on his iPod and go back to picking at the tag on his arm brace.

But, before you could ask 'Is there a doctor in the house?' my amazing little man surprised us all as he turned to an older white-haired lady sitting next to him.

Without missing a beat and looking her straight in the eye, in a big clear voice said, “Hello, are you having a nice day today?”

My faith restored, I nearly fell out of my chair with the awesomeness of the moment!

Oh, but I'm pretty sure Junior will never ever go anywhere in public with his slightly fanatical mother again... the cheering out loud and then 'high five-ing' the receptionist may have just about sent him over the edge.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Letter to a Scammer

Scams Against the Elderly are Going Unchecked in Our Suburbs!

Too hard to prove.
Too sleazy to catch.
Leaving victims too embarrassed and ashamed to report it.

Dear 'Tom the Tree Man' (...or whoever you are in real life)

Firstly, thank you for kindly offering your services at the home of an elderly client of mine, Mrs Maria Popova, approximately six months ago.
Lovely Maria is a proud, but humble, ex-opera singing Bulgarian-born lady who is 89 years old and lives alone in her large family home. Although suffering a smidge of arthritis and prone to the odd fall (understandable when you're classed as legally blind), she is still very independent and in good health.
Somehow, Tom, I suspect you may already have known some of this at the time.
In fact, Maria remarked to me not long after meeting you, that it was uncanny for you to turn up on her doorstep one day, out of the blue, like you did. Straight after that huge storm we had a while back, when so much destruction had been caused in the area by some pretty horrific winds.
Oh, what a godsend you were, Tom!

Scams against the elderly
You told Maria that THIS might happen, Tom

How else would Maria have ever have known that the large eucalyptus tree in her backyard was leaning so perilously close to her bedroom window? 
And that one more big gust and her ENTIRE house could be destroyed, didn't you say, Tom? 
And therefore, it was imperative for Maria's own safety, as you told her at the time, that the tree be removed immediately.
Oh, and what luck it was, Tom, that Maria had all that cash hidden away on the ledge above the kitchen stove, in her little secret teapot, the one with the pansies on it. Coincidentally, the exact amount you required to start the job, Tom - $2000! A bargain, considering how the now terrified Maria's life could be at stake if the work didn't get done by Friday.
Pittance, really.
As you said, Tom, it would be foolish (and very “un-Australian”) NOT to pay you!
And so she paid you willingly, Tom, because you were just so caring and concerned for her wellbeing.
Which is why Maria understood completely when you ever-so-politely insisted, that you have the cash up front to buy materials NOW.
To be honest, finding people that actually do care as much as you do, Tom, is pretty thin on the ground these days. Especially hearing all the dreadful stories about elderly people being scammed by all sorts of dodgy tradesmen and fake utility servicemen. 
Innocent elders who are conned out of money that they've saved up during their working lives; nest-eggs for retirement enabling them to enjoy their golden years; or just money set aside for increased medical costs due to the inevitable health issues associated with ageing.
And then these fraudsters just randomly turn up at people's doors unscrupulously offering so-called urgent maintenance on phone, gas or power lines (because nobody dares mess with a potentially broken one of these). 
As a scare tactic – IT'S PERFECT!  
Then there's the scoundrels posing as contractors who scope out neighbourhoods, watching for lonely and vulnerable older adults who, desperate for company, are more than happy to believe the “nice man” at their front door. And that these 'necessary' property repairs, such as broken roof tiles, brickwork, cracked concrete paths, driveways or garden maintenance – are absolutely genuine.
Come to think of it, Tom, a bit like the work you 'suggested' to do for Maria?
It's sad (and scary) to think that older adults living alone are such easy targets to these con artists, merely because they trust people. 
Such a nasty world out there, Tom, when you think about it.
To know that someone could sink that low?

Elderly scammed by fake tradesmen
Nothing odd about this van....

But I'm sure it wasn't your fault you got held up, Tom. As Maria said, you probably had a lot of other work in the area that needed doing, too. In fact, it was only a few weeks back when she said she thought you would return any day now. That you and your little unmarked yellow van would pull into her driveway with all the special equipment you needed to get that pesky tree down before it did any more damage.
Even when the contact details on your extremely professional-looking business card came back with 'number not in service'.... she still had faith that you'd honour your word. Maria actually worried about you, Tom, and she hoped that nothing bad had happened to you.
Isn't that sweet?
Funny thing about the gumtree, and perhaps you were looking at it from the wrong angle, Tom? But a man from the council came to check it out the other day and confirmed that the tree could never have been a threat to Maria's home. Even if it did fall over – it just wasn't bloody big enough!
Strange, huh?
Sadly, Tom, in the last month or so, I have noticed a change in our lovely Maria. She is quieter than she used to be; she seems fearful and she's lost a lot of her confidence, relying on outside help in her daily routine a lot more than she used to.
It's painful to watch her become this way, Tom – almost as if she has given up on, well... PEOPLE?
Definitely hard to believe she's the same bubbly lady who once sang (with gusto!) in the shower, bottled her own nectarines and enjoyed social bus trip outings with the Senior Citizens club. Instead she prefers to stay at home alone - and just sit. Her family now worry because Maria has become frail and unwell and can clearly no longer cope by herself. Just, heart-breaking.
Anyway, Tom, thanks again for all you've done. 
When last I heard, Maria's home had been sold and she had been re-located into an aged-care facility situated miles away from the life she once knew and loved.
In the meantime, just one question... sorry, Tom.  
Because I know you're such a busy man...
Would you mind if some devious little snot did this to YOUR dear old Mum?!?!

Yours, in Disgust (and on behalf of poor broken Maria)
Dollie Dogood

Scamming the Elderly


Thursday, 2 February 2017

To Bidet, Or Not To Bidet?

That, is the Toileting Question!

I came across this advertisement while restlessly perusing an in-flight magazine recently.  It caught my eye for two reasons:

1.   The Heading: I'd only just written an article about the 'Worst Xmas Gifts Ever', and

2.   The Photo: showing a delighted looking elderly lady (in beige slacks). 

But, why was she... <giggle, snort>.... STANDING ON A TOILET???

Toilet improvements for the elderly
Seriously, how can they ever NOT be funny?

The Best Xmas Gift Ever!!
"Usually for Christmas, my children buy me towels or pillows or once even a
basket for the cat. Last year, after a wonderful lunch in the park with my family,
we came home and I found that for a Christmas gift my son had organised
the replacement of my old toilet seat with an electronic Bidet toilet seat. 

I had seen them advertised on TV and thought what a great idea."

After two weeks of having my new Bidet, I wondered how I had ever survived
previously without it.

All I have to do is sit down on my nice warm seat and go to the loo. Once I am
finished I simply press a button and I get a warm water rush and a stream
of warm air dry.

Now almost a year later, it has changed my life. I have saved a fortune 
in toilet paper and, I see going to the toilet as a time of luxury. 

It is the best Christmas gift I have ever received!"

- Sylvia Ross -

Upon reading the ad, I discover that the extremely chuffed 'Sylvia', is actually the proud owner (and operator) of a shiny new Bidet-style toilet seat attachment, secretly installed by her son as a surprise for Christmas.

Not an advert for your traditional (and totally terrifying) stand-alone Bidet, ahh no. 

Instead, Sylvia introduces us to the wondrous electronic Bidet Toilet Seat. A magical two-in-one appliance that means upon completing her regular toileting ablutions, Sylvia gets to be luxuriously “warm water washed” and “air-dried”. 

And without having to budge - BLISS!

I later showed the mag clipping to my own mother just out of interest. Similar in vintage to Sylvia, it was interesting to hear Mum's views on the whole Bidet topic. From the perspective of someone who, much like most of us finds those 'odd-shaped water fountain thingies' totally intimidating, she admitted that if she had to use a Bidet - she wouldn't know where to start.

It's more of an upper class European thing, isn't it... or is it something the prostitutes in Amsterdam use?”

My friend from bowls has a bidet – but she washes her Chihuahua in it”

I'd be scared it might explode... and I end up being given some sort of a nasty enema?!”

All silliness aside, I did start thinking that perhaps Sylvia was on to something (literally). And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed there were massive advantages to be had by a Senior considering enhancing their current loo, to include an automatice built-in Bidet. 

Interestingly, (but a bit odd too, I thought) I discovered after a bit of research, that the word Bidet comes from the French meaning 'small horse'.

Oh, so you strap yourself on and ride it like a pony?”

Yep, thanks Mum.

And that apparently, it was the Japanese who first invented the modern integrated 'toilet-bidet' as a nifty space-saving device. Without need of a plumber, it's supposedly simple to install and something an older adult (or obliging family member) could manage without too much fuss.  

Merely replacing the current tatty old dunny seat with a fabulous whizz-bang electric one.
Easy peasy... botty-squeezy! 

Being so suitably impressed by this snazzy new bathroom gadget (and without sounding like I have shares in the company), I have since started singing the praises of these electronic Bidet toilet seats to some of my elderly clients. 

Especially for those suffering never-ending incontinence or constipation; or pesky mobility issues from frail, weakened bones and stiff arthritic joints, I reckon it would be hard not to appreciate the enormous potential health benefits an all-in-one bathroom Bidet seat might provide.

8 Reasons an Elderly Person needs an Electronic Bidet Toilet Seat (EBTS):

1.   They can do their 'business', then clean-up, dry-up all in one hit ( one SIT?)  

2.   The EBTS means Seniors stay safe.  Not having to go 'up down' twice from a toilet to a separate Bidet means less chance of a skate on slippery tiles.

3.   Personal hygiene is improved and more effective due to not having to awkwardly reach around to wipe. Tender, sore and 'ouchy' bottoms can stay cleaner - and heal faster.

4.   No hands required. Mission complete - without having to touch your bits!

5.   Issues such as constipation can be eased (or 'eased out') by caressing streams of warm water - in all the right places.

6.   Seniors can feel 'shower fresh' using an EBTS without having to fully strip off and endure the physical ordeal of an actual shower.

7.   The EBTS assists elders to depend less on their Carers - which means maintaining self-confidence (and their dignity) for longer.

8.   The warm-air dryer of the EBTS means older adults with 'greenie' tendencies can feel most satisfied that they're saving “shit-loads” on toilet paper – HOORAY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!

Wouldn't it be nice to offer the Beloveds in your life a tiny bit of luxury in their golden years? 
(Not to mention a toasty warm bum in winter).

It's time to let Nanna know just how much you appreciate her and that because she is so special she deserves to have... THE BEST BIDET-TOILET SEAT IN THE HOUSE!

Elderly people using Bidets
"Geez, I wish I had a fancy new electronic Bidet toilet seat!"


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

If I Get One More Pretty Glass Vase - I'LL SCREAM!

All I Want for Christmas is...

Coming up with the perfect Christmas gift for the elderly rellies in our lives, can be quite the headache.  
Year after year we take the easy way out and fob poor old Mum off with another crystal serving dish or a posh pair of pewter candlesticks.  
How 'bout this year, we put a smile on her dial and give her the thing she REALLY wants?

Let's face it, an aging parent or grandparent already has more 'stuff' than you can shake a stick of misteltoe at.  Their homes are filled with a lifetime worth of ornaments, mementos and nifty collectibles - all of varying worth and each one representing an important milestone or celebration of achievements.

And although we care, and we want to do our best for our housebound loved one, we still insist on fronting up on Christmas day and presenting them with yet another pricey piece of superbly-wrapped Royal Doulton or a fancy schmancy glass figurine (in a nice box).

Well, I'm sorry... BUT THAT'S JUST NOT TRYING!

Waiting in the queue at the post office recently, I managed to craftily listen in on two older ladies chatting in front of me.  Dolled-up beautifully in their red and green 'festive finest', it was a frank, but oddly inspiring convo; one that has given me a whole new angle on my gift-giving dangle this Christmas.

Ho-Ho-Hopefully, it might do the same for you!

"... and if they give me one more China plate on a stand - I'll scream!"

"Well, from my lot, it's flamin' smellies!  For goodness sake, my bathroom cupboard is chocker with perfumed soaps, bath salts and lotions galore.  If I lived to 150, I'd never use it all!"

"Oh, I knowwwww.  Course, it's the daughter-in-law I blame.  Feel like telling her, if you're gonna give me another pretty vase - at least come round and look at the thing with me!"

"And bring a big bunch of fresh gladdies to stick in it, while you're at it!."

"Yes, all very well dishing out the expensive crockery. All I want is a bit of company, a game of cards or just a good chin wag over a cuppa.  You know, something to break up the day?"

"Oh, yes... something to look forward to."

"My legs aren't going to hold out much longer... wish they'd get a wriggle on.  Typical post office."

"I thought your son was going to come and give you a hand?"

"Oh, I don't like to pester him.  He's so busy with the kids this time of year... and they've got a lot on.  I feel such a bother asking him to run me round."

"Nothing like being taken out in the car though, is there?  Honestly, going on a nice long drive would do me for Christmas - I'd be a pig in flamin' mud!"

"Oooo yes, stop off on the way... get afternoon tea somewhere..."

"Mmm fish 'n' chips on the beach?"


Taking elderly out for a drive
Giz  a chip, mate?

"You know, Maureen's daughter takes her to the pictures every Tuesday.  Half price, apparently.  Still, at least she gets an outing.  I'd swap that for one flamin' day of Christmas, in a flash!"

"Oh, I knowwww.  I'd love to go to that 'Carols in the Domain' thing this year.  You know, the sing-a-long in the park?"

"Oooo yes, love a good sing-a-long."

"But I can't do it on my own - I'm too wobbly!  I need Cheryl to take me but they've gone away up the lake for the holidays."

"Just give me a couple of bags of cat food... now that would save me a few bob.  I'd be fine with that.  Lucky and me could skip flamin' Christmas altogether then!"

"And you wouldn't have to find more space in the cabinet for another bunch of useless knick-knacks!"

"You know what we should do?  We should set up down the market... sell off all our prezzies to all the other suckers."

"Oooo yes!  Get Wilma to bring along the silver napkin rings and salt'n'pepper sets her family keep shoving on her..."

"... and Celia can wheel out all her ugly ceramic ducks - WE'D MAKE A FLAMIN' FORTUNE!"

At this stage the line started to move and the girls had trundled off for their turn with the teller. It was amusing to hear their candid thoughts on the crappy materialistic gifts of Christmas past.  But also a reality check, that maybe we could all put a bit more consideration into what we choose for our beloveds in the future.

Appreciating the little things, showing how much we enjoy their company.  Simply sharing a meal, or even just a good natter and a laugh over some boozy eggnog and a warm mince tart.

Bringing the kids round to decorate grandad's tree, or watching a funny movie together while you help write out great-aunt Betty's 2,387 Christmas cards.  Better still, turn the telly off and throw yourselves into a hearty game of Scrabble or Monopoly (if she can bear the arguments that is!)

Remind yourself that your treasured elder won't be around forever; better to spend the time you have creating experiences and making sweet or silly memories you can all cherish.

Something money will never buy.

'Tis the season to say "Bah, humbug!" to spending big dollars on superfluous dust-collecting frippery for our elderly relatives this festive season!

Seriously, it couldn't be more easy flamin' peasy.

All your dear ol' Mum ever really wants for Christmas is...



Elderly gfits for Christmas
Quackity, Quack? 


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Tips for Transporting an Elderly Person in your Car

Driving Miss Daisy... to the Doctor

I have to say, providing Assisted Transport where I drive my elderly client to their doctor or specialist appointment is one of the snazzy little duties that as an itinerant careworker, I really quite enjoy.  

I like driving.  I like chatting.  And I like helping people. 

What more could you ask for?  

Thankfully, most Seniors seem to view this opportunity for an outing rather favourably as well. Possibly because they get the guarantee of a trapped readily available audience during the drive - meaning a nice window of talk time where they get you, their eager-to-please driver, all to themselves.

So, as simple and as common sense as it sounds, I thought I’d compile a few helpful pointers to empower my fellow carers to transport their elderly clients in the most professional, yet thoughtful manner that they can muster.  One that's superbly stress-free and which will ultimately mean a minimum of anxiety to each of you.  

Not to mention eliminating all chance of something going wrong and it all ending in tears.  

Or worse.  Eeek!

Transporting Old People to Appointments
Who doesn't love a
nice drive?

Firstly, plan the trip BEFORE you get to your elderly client's home:

  • Decide the route you will take. Map it out, and decide the best way to go so you can avoid heavy traffic and/or pesky roadwork delays that may invite an already nervous Pensioner to start fretting

  • Investigate parking.  Is there easy access? Is the parking free?  Is there a Disabled carpark available?

  • Know in advance what your client’s needs are.  Are there inhibiting medical conditions? Do they need a wheeled walker? Does she prefer to sit in the back seat?

  • Clear out your car.  Make a comfy space for your elderly traveller to sit and feel special in. (Yes, that does mean getting rid of your son’s football, skateboard and last week's takeaway rubbish).

  • Be. On. Time. This is IMPERATIVE.  If you haven't worked it out by now, older adults get most titchy when it comes to appointment times.  In fact save yourself a whole lotta pain and be ridiculously early rather than cutting it fine.  Otherwise your entire trip will be tense and unpleasant - heaven help you if youy make your client arrive late!

    Quick story:
    I once had a client whom I used to drive every Monday afternoon to her physio appointment.  Mrs Daisy Diddleberry had broken her wrist and was now just getting her strength back with the help of a specialist.  She was only 68 years old but unbeknownst to me, Daisy also had early on-set Dementia. 

    And, horror of all horrors - she liked to try and leap out of the car at traffic lights! 


    As we drove along nearing her favourite bakery she’d bellow “they make the best fruit loaf here, Wendy!” and yank off her seatbelt while fumbling for the door handle.  This was before I’d stopped the car or even had a chance to pull over!  

    I soon learnt to distract Daisy whenever we reached certain shops or at the lights - as well as making dam sure I had the 'kiddie lock' on too.  

    All tricks of the trade to ensure everyone is kept safe and snug.
    And she could call me Wendy, Wilomena or WOMBAT for all I cared - just as long as she stayed out of mischief.

    Tips on getting elderly people INTO the car with a minimum of fuss:

    (Clue - it’s ALL about Safety)
    1.  Go to their front door to greet them and be ready to assist your elderly client as required

    2.  Check they have all their bits n bobs ie: Bag?  Specs? Brolly? Coat?  Key?  The key is a big one, obviously.

    3.  Confirm appointment time is correct and that you’re on target.  Tick.

    4.  Confirm location of the appointment.  Make sure you’re both on the same page.  Nothing worse than roaring off to the wrong doctor because your client hadn’t informed you they’d changed their GP or that he had moved consulting rooms.  More common than you'd think, this one.

    5.  Confirm if you are waiting for your client in the reception waiting area or if they’d like you to accompany them into the appointment

    6.  Get them to the car, installed comfortably (with handbag purched on lap) but INSIST on checking their seat belt is plugged in correctly - no matter how much they protest and tell you you're being silly. Once your Beloved is all strapped in (and usually champing at the bit for a good natter by this stage)... you can  put their walker or any other mobility paraphernalia into the boot knowing your charge is secured.  


    Tips for keeping your elderly client HAPPY in your car:

    • Just chat, be yourself, but be guided by them.  You want to put your client at ease and hope that they feel relaxed being in the car with you.  However, if they aren’t interested in talking then back off and don’t yabber on.

    • Throw in the odd compliment.  Or at least one. Anything?  FIND SOMETHING…nice coat, hat, pretty rose bush, they smell nice, lovely shoes etc.  Everyone loves a bit of flattery (even the biggest of grumps)

    • Let them talk about themselves - unless they show genuine interest in you. Seniors can get sick to the back teeth of their own company so your presence can be like a breath of fresh air to them.  Brace yourself!!!

    • Exaggerate your experience if need be, tell them you’ve done this hundreds of times and how much you enjoy it - but don’t disclose too much personal info about yourself.  

    • Remember your professional boundaries.  Doesn't matter how 'friendly' you become with your client, don't be tempted to give them your private phone or home address details.  It will bite you in the bum later - rest assured.

    • If you aren’t familiar with the area – ASK YOUR CLIENT!  They usually know it inside out, they’ve been coming to this doctor for 157 years and they will no doubt let you know this. If they give you directions then TAKE THEM. Don’t try and prove them wrong - it’s not about you being clever.

    • Don’t probe into their reason for going to the doctor. More than likely they will tell you anyway and most of the time it’s just routine check-up type stuff.  You’d like to think that if it was anything super serious or life-threatening, that the family would be driving them – not little ole you.

    Assisting elderly into your car
    Hat...coat... gloves.
    Don't forget your keys, Mr Tripalong!

    Tips on getting your elderly client OUT of the car with a minimum of fuss:

    (Again, it’s all about Safety)

    • Park as close as possible to the entrance of the clinic.  Do they have a special Disabled Permit for window display? (I love these babies - it means front row parking BRILLIANT)

    • Tell them the plan and explain what you intend to do to get them out.  Do they need help?  If so, get out and be poised ready for them before they struggle, get caught up in door handles or something goes horribly wrong.  If they have one, get the wheelie walker out waiting for them as you open their door

    • Assist to get your client onto the kerb SAFELY.  Don’t go grabbing their arm, remember they are still independent and should be quite capable.  Umm should be....

    • Be guided by them. Open the door to the clinic, but let them do all the talking to the staff.  Most receptionists are cluey enough to know why you have come along too, so just hover and be ready to leap in if your client needs you


    If you've had a good chat in the car then you will have most of these bases covered already.  
    Although having said that, there is a time and place for conversation with your clients.  

    You need to be aware of what their medical condition is and whether they have issues with speech.  
    Or possibly even with breathing.

    Another quick story:
    I once had a client who unfortunately, suffered acute Emphysema. I used to drive the alarmingly audibly breathless Mr Jim Wheezly to his hospital check-up once a month for various lung function tests and to monitor his swiftly deteriorating condition. 

    During our first initial outing however, I wisely opted NOT to talk to Jim more than was necessary, because it was obvious to me that he struggled to push out every single word. Suffering exhaustion with the mere physical process of hauling himself to the doctors, the last thing he needed was to expend valuable energy on idle chit chat along the way.

    Surprisingly, after our first near-silent journey together, and while I was helping him out of the car, he actually mustered up the strength to tell me how much he appreciated not having to waste his breath on the usual banter that most carers insisted on "putting him through". 

    And... <wheeze>... could he... <wheeze>... have me drive him again <gasp>... next time?

    So, yes.  
    Being aware, staying alert and taking responsibility.  I hate to sound like a patronising so-in-so...but it’s pretty similar to taking a toddler out in public: you’ve got to watch their every move!

    Just in case:
    a)  they fall and hurt themselves (that’s the biggie)

    b)  they wonder off and get lost (yes, it does happen although NOT ON MY WATCH!)

    c)  they become distressed and panic (elderly people hate to feel inadequate and that they are making a scene... and who doesn't?)

    d)  they need help with doors, ringing the bell, finding paperwork in their handbags etc (you don’t want your client to feel out of control and insecure and that they’re holding up the queue)

    e)  they drop their ice-cream on the floor and rub sticky fingers all over the nice doctor’s upholstery!  

    I’m kidding, of course.  

    Although I did once have an elderly gent somehow lose his half-sucked barley sugar in the waiting room of the Optometrists one day.  

    Believe it or not, had to chuckle, we found it at his appointment the following week... embedded in the crease of the very same chair he’d sat on the week before!

    True Story!!!

    Elderly people love Sweeties
    Sweet and sticky