Wednesday, 21 September 2016

HELP! The Computer Swallowed Grandma

You wanna do WHAT with my Cookies?

Before we go scoffing and rolling our eyes too loudly when it comes to mustering the patience for showing an aging parent how to "logger" themselves onto a recently erected PC, iPad or Tablet device, consider this:

-----> Your mother taught you how to hold a spoon, wipe your bottom and count to ten.

Did she poke fun at you then?

Or when a grandparent who is desperately trying to master the art of “this email caper” just so she can stay in touch with her grandkids (yes, your children)... because nobody writes letters any more and rather than being left behind and feeling cut-off from her family, she is at least making the effort to come to grips with all this “techno-wotsit-gadgetry” even though it is completely foreign and feels so impersonal to her.

You have to admire her for at least giving it a crack though, don't you?

And isn't it just gorgeous when she thinks how mod and trendy she is when she finally DOES manage to rattle off an email to her darling 16 year old grandson Max (it's only taken her most of a day)... topping it all off by abbreviating her 'Lots of Love' sign-off with "LOL Grandma" just for effect.

"Oh, Maxi will be SO impressed to see how his grandmother knows 'dot com' stuff!"

More and more it seems I'm getting asked by my elderly clients as I visit them in their homes, to have a look at their jammed-up unresponsive computers or merely to explain “what that noise means” and that it only started making it after that dreadful storm last week.

Do you think perhaps some water got into the wiring, Dollie?”

That the "inter-web must be broken" because the screen hasn't lit up... or that “I think I've wiped the internet” (after accidentally deleting her own shortcut icon)... or asking if one needed to loacte an 'App' just to bring up the local bus timetable.

"Would it help if I hopped on to 'The Google' instead, Dollie?"

In my experience (and being that it would be totally inhumane and nasty), there is no merit gained from sniggering into the face of an earnest older adult who is already feeling inadequate.  They understand and accept that all this new whizz-bang technology is completely over their head and that of course they know how silly they must look to us younger smarty-pant types.

Instead, I sit down, and LISTEN to what they are trying to achieve and if it sounds like something basic (such as the plug not being turned on at the wall) then I tactfully suggest we try giving the switch a flick and see how that goes.  I then like to say "Oh, it happens all the time, Mrs Terrabyte, no need to feel embarrassed.  In fact I sometimes do it myself!"

And then we laugh.... until she reveals for the life of her she can't remember what her wretched password is and could she use mine?

So here's a cute little poem I found "on the line" that suits the occasion and ends very nicely too.

Elderly and Computers (Technology)
double click... back-space... tab?

See what I mean – CUTE!  

Of course in real life, we would never wish to lose dear ol' Grammy into the deep dark depths of the cyberspace abyss (or that she be eaten by a worm), in a million years. 

Who else is gonna tell us where the 'cookies' are stored?

Tee hee!!


Thursday, 15 September 2016

Rhonda's Red Racer

Third Floor: Mobility Scooters... GOING UP!

"Oh yes, Dollie...I still drive my car.  Been driving for over 40 years it must be.  I can't imagine what it will be like when I have to give it up though.  It really worries me in fact, so I'm not thinking about it 'til I have to.  I mean... what do other old people do when they need to get anywhere?"

"Take the bus maybe?  Or get a taxi?  Pensioners are usually eligible to get the discounted half-price rate, so that's a good thing.  Or we could find out if your Council provides an Assisted Transport service... you know, to take you shopping and stuff?"

"Oh heavens, I hope it doesn't come to that, Dollie.  Having to rely on others all the time and feeling like I'm a real pain in the bum to everyone - I couldn't stand it!"

"Well, you could get one of those nifty motorised scooter thingies... you see people roaring along the footpaths on them all the time.  With a bright orange safety flag sticking up on the back - I could definitely see you with one of those, Rhonda!"

"Actually, I've already got a scooter... a bright red one!  I've only used it a couple of times, you know, for practice I took it out to the big shopping centre... but I had a terrible time.  And now I'm just SCARED of it!"

"Why, Rhonda?  What on earth happened?"

"Well, I drove it into the lift, not really thinking.  It was such a busy day and the lift was full of people with bags of shopping and a mum with her baby twins... in an enormous pram.  BUT THEN I COULDN'T GET OUT!"

"Oh no!  Didn't it have a reverse button on it?"

"Oh, Dollie it was awful! The stupid thing wouldn't go backwards!  Instead I had them all in the lift trying to give me directions.  Then they had to get out - to let me out... including the lady with the pram who wasn't happy!  I tried doing a three-point turn... but managed to turn that into a TEN-point turn because I wasn't steering the dam thing right.  In the end, the men had to grab a corner each and lift it out... WITH ME ON IT!  Oh, I could've died with the embarrassment, Dollie.  Never again!"

-  Mrs Rhonda Redlight, aged 88
(Mazda 323 Owner, Driver and Motorway Enthusiast)

Elderly and their Mobility Scooters


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Jean Wins Gold!

SOFA-CYCLING.... the New Olympic Sport?

OK, so I arrived at the lovely Mrs Jean Jellybean's home today where I found her flush-cheeked on the sofa... pedalling flat out on one of these wondrous little beauties:

Regular physical activity for Pensioners
(Only true athletes keep their pantyhose on)

In normal life, 88 year old Jean is one of those sprightly 'do-gooder' ladies that you see rushing about in the community. Volunteering at the library, visiting the elderly in hospital and helping out with the Meals on Wheels delivery... Jean spends most of her days zipping about helping OTHER people. People who are 'poor souls' that don't have anyone else to help them.

And because I can, Dollie”.

BUT... after recently undergoing hip and knee replacement surgery (both on the left side), Jean has been out of action for several months being stuck in rehab and recovery mode.  Trapped at home waiting for her body to heal, Jean has been driven slowly mad with boredom and with what she says is far too much 'sitting about'.

And I'm getting FAT!”

Finally now in the final stretches of convalescence, Jean has officially been given the green light by her Physiotherapist to start some light exercise and build up the strength in her newly renovated leg.  And thanks to the super-efficient Physio nurse organising her the loan of a portable mini pedal device, Jean is able to set herself up beautifully in the comfort of her own lounge room.  She gets to whirrrr away on her fab new contraption to her heart's content (and some mornings, still with her nightie on!)

Are you sure you're not overdoing it, Jean?  Too much, too soon? You don't want to push things and end up setting yourself back another month.”

No such.... thing... as over...doing it... Dollie!”

Pedal... pedal...pedal...

<Puff....Puff... PUFF>

I've been... watching... the Olympics... on the telly. It's been....very.... in-spi....ra-tional!”

Blow it, why shouldn't she push it?!   I had to agree. Jean was a healthy old bird after all – aside from her recent leg issue, but that was coming right.   Her determination was totally admirable.

Good for you, Jean Jellybean – GO HARD OR GO HOME!

In fact, being the amazingly conscientious carer that I am, I always try and encourage my elderly clients to move about and do as much for themselves as they can. The new buzz-word in Aged-Care circles at the moment is 'Active Ageing' and quite honestly, it's words to live by if my Beloveds intend on living out their Golden years in their own home.

A little exercise can go such a long way it has to be said.  As 84 year old Mrs Barbara Breastroke, another of my more robust clients, likes to remind me as she tootles off to her twice-weekly aqua-aerobics class:

We either move - or we lose it, Dollie!”

Exercise important for Elderly
Barb 'moving it'!

Thankfully, physical activity doesn't have to be quite the intensity of spirited water sport to be considered exercise for an older adult.  A mere stroll to the local shops, a lap of the garden or even to the letterbox once or twice a day can be plenty for a frail or unsteady Senior to keep the blood pumping and energy levels topped-up.

Being that smidge stronger, too, can do wonders to prevent those beastly falls - most important when you're living at home alone.  Or, failing that... it can drastically lessen the recovery time (and complications) after having one.

Because when Nana has good muscle strength, more energy and fabulous circulation – Nana has POWER!

Not to mention it can put her in a much better mood!  No more sitting round with a rug over her knee watching the days tick by.  Instead she is able to remain more independent and can continue with the lifestyle, interests and social interaction she has always partaken of.  She can attend her Bridge club with friends (sherry anyone?), take up French cookery classes if she fancies and look after her grandchildren every now again.

 – If she has time to, that is!

On Tuesdays I visit the very nimble 86 year old Mr Jim Kim and even though his 'Engrish' is limited, I can tell he gets quite excited to see me. I always find him outside when I arrive, under the clothesline doing his Tai-Chi.   And it's so cool to watch!  So if I can, I try and get there a little earlier so I can see him finish off.  

(Which of course makes him feel extra clever and pleased that I am so impressed.)

Tai-Chi is all about timing and concentration, if you didn't know. Which is why the beautifully symbiotic routine of mine and Jim's is not complete until Jim does one last 'grasp-sparrow-tail' (left)... then 'grasp-sparrow-tail' (right)... while I wait and admire from the sidelines.

Only then does he call out and acknowledge me.

Hurroo, Dorree!”

Then off we go inside where Jim prepares us a nice pot of green tea and I haul the vacuum cleaner out.

Now to the un-trained eye, one could scoff and argue that if Mr Kim can manage Tai-Chi so easily (and spectacularly), then why can't Mr Kim do his own bloody vacuuming?  The answer to that my friends, is simple.  If Mr Kim doesn't have to exert himself doing strenuous housework (and possibly use up his last bits of strength for the day) – then Mr Kim is able to do what he loves instead.

And that makes Mr Kim happy.

Old Chinese proverb say: A happy Pensioner stays at home longer than an unhappy one!


But I think Jean Jellybean, puffing her lungs out as she races off into the distance on her sofa bike, sums it up best:

I'm going... for gold here... Dolllie!  Reckon... if I keep this up... I could just about...give that Usain Bolt lad...a bloody good... RUN FOR HIS MONEY!"


Old People and Exercise
Jean & Usain - GETTING PHYSICAL !!!


Friday, 9 September 2016

I Can See Clearly Now My Vision Has Gone

Brookie & Prim

"Sorry it took me so long to get to the door today, Dollie.  Been to the eye specialist again this morning and he had a good poke round.  Can't see a bloody thing at the mo.  Ha ha... not that I could to start with!"

"Oh no, what'd he do to you this time, Brookie?"

“Well, it's the Glaucoma – he said that's officially what it was.   Of course I knew that already but he's only just worked it out!”

“You've got such amazing piercing blue eyes.  And your pupils are enormous, Brookie!  Hard to imagine you're having such a bad time with them.”

“That's the 'Sandy Blight' that makes them look like that.  Or Trachoma is the technical name for it.   Can't hardly see anymore and bright light really hurts.   Had it all me life you know... from living at the beach while I was growing up apparently.   Me mum always said I was a sand-bunny.... couldn't get me and the rest of us kids off the beach most days.   Now I pay for it of course... but that's just life I guess.”

Sandy Blight in childhood

“Can't they do anything about it now though?”

“Too late.  It's permanently scarred me corneas now.  So the only thing they could do would be to give me a cornea transplant.  Hell's Bells, I could think of nothing worse!   I'd rather be completely blind than have some other bugger's eyes glued into me sockets!”

“But it could mean your vision would be so much better, Brookie.   Isn't that worth it?”

“No, love. I'm 91... so now that the Glaucoma's set in, there's just no point.   Besides, I'm used to fumbling me way round this old house.   And the doc said this morning that I will go completely blind eventually.   Just a matter of months he reckons.”

“Oh no, really Brookie?   So what will you do?”

“Well, I spose I gotta move outta here and into a small unit.  Me niece says she's got something already lined up.   The only thing that will stop me going is poor ol' Prim here.”

“But can't you take her with you?   Most Retirement places let you bring your pets.”

“She's gettin' on now... 15 years old so she hasn't got long.   And I don't want to uproot her from her home.  No, bugger 'em... I'm not budging 'til she's gone!   Besides, I've got a smart pink dog-coat getting knitted up for her by a lady a few doors down.   Ha ha... would you believe, it's the same pink as my posh 'going out' sweater.

"Next time I go to the shops I'm gonna take Primmy and we'll both wear our matching pink jumpers.  Ha ha... that'll show 'em who's too old!”

- Mrs Alma "Call-Me-Brookie" Brooklands, aged 91
(Blind as a bat, but fashionably PINK!)

Elderly and their Pets
Princess Prim


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, currently employed, Religion = Nil))

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Knock, Knock, Knocking on Harriet's Door

When being too 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 she must take for her back pain, and a lack of sleep from the side-effects ----->  Harriet 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!”