Sunday, March 14, 2010

I happen to be Grandmasitting at the moment.  I am always surprised at how much I enjoy the company of seniors.  Short term, that is.  Seeing as I have to adopt different mannerisms and sense of humour, I do end up craving younger interaction after a while.
And I'm not permanently drawn to this work at all, although I spent three months as recreation facilitator at a home.  It is monotonous in many ways.  But depressing, in that you realize most of these people will never improve.  I originally took the job to face the challenges of interacting with the older generation.  And it had it's positive sides as well.
First of all, seniors really are funny.  They simply do and say funny things.  As they age their characters get more and more pronounced.  And for the most part you can laugh at them, and they don't mind!  They'll probably laugh with you.  Not that you don't occasionally get the grumpy old person who can never cheer up, but in my experience they are actually the minority.  This also surprises me, because I'm pretty sure if I had care givers constantly feeding me healthy little sandwiches I didn't like, or being stuck in a chair and considered a nuisance and not being able to read because of my eyesight I doubt I would be even tempered about it.
One of the most amusing old ladies I ever worked with was a British girl with advanced dementia.  The best way to calm her down was to give her a cup of tea.  She was always up for this, being English and all, and considering the fact that she never remembered if she'd just had one.
One day I was going around getting lists of nail varnish colours for all the ladies so I could have a spa day.  Upon being asked, and having the process explained, this British lady looked at her hands for a minute or so considering the question.  She then turned to me and stated, "I think green would be nice."
I looked at my list, comprised of shades of red and pink, burst into laughter.
The greatest part, though, is the stories, and what you can get them to share.  I loved going into their rooms at looking at old black and white photos.  They were almost always captured in a wedding picture, looking young, radiant and full of hope.  Sometimes you would see a military shot, a beach or holiday scene, or, in one case, a young fellow sitting behind a drum set. 
We have no one left in this country from the first world war.  In ten years those with memories of the second or the great depression will be fading away.  There are personal stories that rival any fiction, and with a little work they will almost always be shared.
So, although the days are long, I love my Grandma.  And this week is probably one of the closest times I'll spend with her (she has almost 30 grandkids) .  I'll laugh with her at her crazy quirks (eating planter dirt in the middle of the night, mistaking it for the next days lunch), and I'll learn some of her story.  After all, if it's hers then it's also a little bit mine.

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