my father's brother yesterday. This is quite an undertaking. A much younger friend of his came and picked us up after he had finished tuning a piano in a neighbouring suburb. It is then a fifty-minute car ride to the nursing home.
It is the first time we have seen it as he has only just moved in. The arrangements to put him there were not made by us but we are very happy with it. My uncle is not. He hates it - or so he would have us believe.
It is a small place, with just thirty-nine beds. It is surrounded by well kept gardens. My uncle's room is large and sunny. There are French doors which lead to a small private garden. The room, and indeed the entire place, has all the facilities anyone could need and is a far cry from the more institutional like settings of some of the larger facilities. It is really more like a small and pleasant hotel.
While we there most of the residents were in the recreation room at a "concert". Someone had brought in an ukelele and they were "singing" songs like "A bicycle built for two" and "You are my sunshine". I have endured this before in other nursing homes. What the residents really make of it I am not sure. When I visited another nursing home recently there was a similar thing going on and, on seeing me, one of the old men told the staff member to turn the tape they were using off, "We'd rather talk to Cat." It was a compliment to me but I did wonder how the staff member felt!
I met two dogs there. The only time my uncle looked faintly pleased about anything was when one of these came and sat next to him for a short while. He cannot see well enough to read. He hates community singing. He does not want to go out in the bus with "all those old people". He does not want to try and make new friends or have a conversation with anyone. I suspect the latter is because his hearing is less than perfect. He has always had a tendency to mumble and it is becoming worse. Conversation does not come easily. He will not listen to the radio or the audio-books available to him. The staff have gone as far as to suggest they will get him some clay and find a wet area for him to return to his pottery. He still has the capacity to make small pieces and have them externally fired. No, he does not want to do that either. He does not want to do anything. There is nothing we can suggest or do which seems to help.
Entertainment in such places will always be difficult. If you are no longer able to read or hold a conversation with ease or can no longer pursue your hobbies then what do you do? What will I do if I ever reach that point? I have to confess I hate community singing too!