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Discussion in 'Dementia-related news and campaigns' started by Tender Face, Jun 19, 2011.
Well, I’ll talk to myself on this thread if no-one else is!
Just had an enlightening experience while out on errands – and this project came to mind. Had witnessed a frail little lady in the bank, struggling with hearing (damned microphone stuff through screens), struggling with having to put her PIN into a machine ... realising because of said microphone system she was withdrawing a substantial amount of cash out ..... very difficult not to jump out of the queue and try help her out. Watched, relieved, as she took her time away from the counter securing her bag and carried on with my own business.
Outside a few minutes later I witnessed her trying to navigate some stairs on the 'precinct' and detoured to see if I could help. ‘Could you use an extra arm to lean on?’ She was very grateful and I ‘linked’ her up the stairs to the higher concourse. Am already thinking, I could have been someone (as I had) just witnessed her withdraw her cash and be after her handbag – what a lot of trust our frail people need to accept help? ‘I have to try the stairs, she said, because it’s too long a walk round the other way not to.’
At the top of the stairs I asked if she was OK now it was all level walking. ‘Well, I wouldn’t mind your help,’ she said. ‘I’m looking for Specsavers’ (You just couldn’t make that up, could you?). By the time we got to Specsavers, I knew how old she was (a very young 94!), where her daughter lived (too far away to help her), how Social Services are taking away her laundry service ‘....and how the b****y hell am I supposed to be able to peg washing out?’ and how every precinct in the area has changed so much it’s hard to get your bearings etc etc ..... sorted out where she was getting her taxi from to get home again and she agreed Specsavers staff could ring one for her .....
As we walked along the level (still linked at her request) she almost stumbled .... her walking stick had got trapped in a drain cover and it threw her off balance ..... ‘Oh thank goodness for you,’ she said as she regained her balance leaning heavily on me. ‘You really have done your good deed for the day.’ Bless.
I rather think she has done ME the good deed. It’s been a few years now since I was able to help mum in these ways, and it is easy to forget all the potential dangers that lurk just ‘going about everyday business’ ...... just being frail is one thing, being frail and having dementia and trying valiantly to be independent or just because there is no support and at the mercy of strangers at times something else ... how close she was to a potentially serious fall shook me – just ‘providence’ I had happened to spot her – and she had been the kind of person willing to accept help!
Must go – need to jot off a letter to the council about changing those damned drain covers so they are not so wide a walking stick can get lodged in them!
Hi Karen, what a frightening and disturbing story. I know exactly how you feel about wanting to help and you were so right to do so, but yes, horrifically it points out yet again how vulnerable the elderly may be. Didn't it make you want to visit her every week and help out?! Society has changed so much, the family support network may not be there, the neighbours are often out all day working and the country has no money! Thank heavens for people like you who care. I'd be interested to hear what the council says about drain covers!! Well done for writing!!
Hi Karen and Maryw
I guess you felt pretty isolated on this thread Karen - no-one responding, I have to admit I looked initially and saw the link and thought you'd put it here to highlight it and I had already read the article. When I read your second post I hadn't realised you wanted a response! How many of our elderly just want a response - like you were able to give that lady. As another thread highlights, a smile alone is a response, but how much more can we all offer than just a smile? - the extra mile?
How many of the elderly 'talk to themselves' as they think no-one else is interested, how many are shut in their homes with no contact? I hope this thread and the article highlighted doesn't just make us aware of what it's like for the isolated elderly but spurs us all into action to whatever degree each is able to offer.
Hope you get some more responses- thanks for highlighting it.
Hi Mary – I am sure I only did what most decent folk would do. In fact, another good deed that lady did me was to help me realise how much I have ‘moved on’. It’s not that long ago I would have seen someone like her, thought of mum and fallen to bits!!! Instead of helping I might have been lurking in some alley having a good sob!!!!!
I related the tale to hubby last night and his reaction was (hadn’t thought of this myself!) ‘What on earth was someone of that age needing so much cash for?’ .... oh blimey ... cowboys to pay????? Who knows? ‘What a shame the banks don’t have some duty of care to discreetly ask if a cheque might be more suitable etc – or at least take her to an ante-room to conduct her business and offer her some protection’ (can feel a letter to bank coming on next about how public that little lady’s cash withdrawal was to all and sundry queuing in the banking hall ) but I suppose, they are not allowed to ask those questions - although they were quick to freeze my mother’s accounts when THEY decided she was losing capacity?????
If I get a response I will update (or of course if I have made my own ‘inspections’ and witness a change!!!!) When I went to our Council’s website they have a specific link to report ‘trip hazards’ so obviously something they take seriously (compensation culture?). We’ll see.
Sue, thank you. Hadn’t really thought of it that way (was just being flippant, to be honest, because I don’t often expect any response to articles posted in this section) but yes – what a good point.
I think this is such an exciting project and am looking forward to seeing the outcome/reports. Yes it is generic to ‘elderly’ and not dementia specific (as far as I am aware so far) .... but I support anything going in the right direction! Something else I can see being used in such as citizenship in schools .....
And I guess, too, I AM trying to highlight how little time it can take to ‘make a difference’ (as per the article) .... to offer a hand ..... to bother to report that broken kerb, perhaps, and not assume someone else has .... and to look at the world as someone less mobile, less capable, less able to protect themselves ..... “Raising Awareness and Campaigning” does not always have to be grand ‘bells and whistles’ affairs at national level .....
Love, Karen, x
the world is moving on so quickly now that those in their 50's are now considered elderly - and those in their 30's middle aged - in some quarters - but we are then all considered young enough to work till we drop.
As Tina Turner sang "whats age got to do with it" oops sorry no I think she said love I digress.
All we can do is help where we can and be kind and gentle to any elderly we meet in our every day lives.
I work at Friends of the Elderly who are running Isolation Week and I love what you wrote Karen. Wouldn't the world be a better place if we all helped others just that little bit.
We have had such a great response to our 'week' and I may even be on the Breakfast sofa next week talking about it !
We are so pleased that it has raised the awareness of older people living alone. We know that the reality of living alone as an older person (and especially one who might have dementia) can be far worse than our volunteers will experience but if it has captured the media's attention and raises awareness of the issue - then it can't be bad!
I suggested the 'don't forget to help older people in the supermarket' as that's what I do in mine on a Saturday morning and it makes my shopping more enjoyable.
Let's share love and kindness
Hi Jenny. How wonderful for you to come here and post!
You realise what an impact that news article had on me alone ... really set me off thinking about how many people would love to ‘volunteer’, go on committees, fund-raise, donate ... and for all sorts of reasons they can’t. It was a powerful reminder that ‘just going about your own business’ – and just by ‘being aware’ and taking a few extra minutes of time to help someone else ‘going about their business’ can make such a difference.
Must say, I find this project sooooo exciting and hope it gets all the media attention and resultant ‘awareness’ it deserves.
I found the Friends of the Elderly website today, for anyone else interested: http://www.fote.org.uk/ Clicked on the link about Isolation Week and was just fascinated at the ingenuity of this project, intend to try watch all the video links.
So important now, with resources scarce, that various charities come together, work together and that both they and their supporters recognise the ‘overlaps’ and come up with innovative ways both to plug service gaps and to raise awareness?
I hope you might come back to TP, Jenny, and let us know, if nothing else, how comfy the sofa was!
Will be watching the media and your website with great interest,
PS: On a practical note and needing some advice from anyone who might know: I have had the following response from my council about the drain covers I mentioned in an earlier post... “ ... the area in question is unadopted and there is no Council ownership of said area. Responsibility will probably lie with the Shopping Centre.” Humph! ‘Probably’?! My conscience wouldn’t allow me to let this drop now, but how do I find out who owns said ‘Shopping Centre’ and its walkways? (It’s a ‘precinct’ with a few high street stores and independent shops ... anyone has any ideas where to go with this now, answers on a postcard gratefully received) .