Friday, 22 July 2011

We went to see

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!


Sheep Rustler said...

Not for everyone, but my FIL enjoyed dvds and talking books at that point. But that's in his room, not as community activities.

catdownunder said...

Yes, he could have DVDs, CDs and audio-books in his room but he is refusing to cooperate with anything right now. Staff were hopeful he would "settle in" but family and friends think it is unlikely. It worries Dad - who is older, fitter and still very competent - who knows he would hate communal living too.

Frances said...

Cat: When I was young, old people sitting on their front porches watching the world go by were a common sight. Nowadays many retirement/nursing homes seem to cut the clients off from seeing the world except through television.
When I heard about a centre starting here in the hospital grounds, I thought that was marvellous. Clients could see doctors/patients/ambulances/visitors come and go. They could see people leaving with new babies. All stimulating, interesting and keeping the clients still part of life, still part of the real world.
When I saw it though, I found that they had positioned it to exclude all these sights. All that could be seen was lawn and garden. Still, static, boring.
Another facility here has beautiful broad lawns sweeping down to the road, with more beautiful broad lawns across the road, which are, unfortunately part of the lawn cemetery. What on earth were they thinking of to build it there?
The roaming dog might be providing a pleasing bit of unpredictability in a boring routine. I think that being in one of these places - no matter how nice - might make me bad tempered and depressed also.

catdownunder said...

Mmm and have you ever considered the names they give these places - there is one near here called "Sunset Lodge" and another three called "Resthaven" - gah!

jeanfromcornwall said...

I can think of nothing worse than being trapped in that sort of situation. It is rather like being in a school, where everyone seems to have the right to tell people what they would like. It may suit some people, but there are a great many to whom it is a torment, and I can't figure out what the alternative might be.

I just hope that when I come to that stage I am able to get my hands on a good sound system then I can p*** them off by playing Sibelius and Vaughan Williams much too loud.

My OH asks, "Why do they keep on making the poor old b*****rs sing "Long way to Tipperary" - that was WWI and they weren't even born then."

JO said...

It's so hard, watching someone shut down like this.

I have an old aunt, whom I love dearly, who believes she has lived too long. She can still read, but will not engage in any ideas to help her get out of the house, or enjoy new ideas - or even toys - like a new DVD player.

But maybe the problem is mine, wanting her to enjoy new things, new ideas, like she has for much of her life. She is ready to shuffle off this mortal coil - and has little patience with me suggesting things that could make life more interesting for her.