Thursday, 13 June 2019

Understanding how to meet 50/50 with Infirm individuals

Let us understand the meaning of Infirm according to Chief Inspector Google

'The adjective infirm is most often used to talk about elderly people whose bodies don't work as well as they used to ...' Each and every one of us lead different day to day lives. Some live in the fast lane, others in a more relaxed lane, some live in a highly stressed world while others live in a quiet, undisturbed world with perhaps a radio on for company or perhaps even television as their only form of human contact. Some who live in the latter world can be heard to say, the programmes they watch and the people therein almost become like 'friends' albeit through a screen, this is mainly because they may rarely see other humans through the day or perhaps even for days on end. Or they may have formed a 'window relationship' with a feathery friend such as Robin, or a Thrush or perhaps even a Magpie who lands on a specific spot in their garden or on a nearby tree. Whichever way, their world is often 100 percent slower than those who are younger, or family members who work, or who are busy running after younger family members.

Many who live in a slower world feel frustrated, useless but more importantly, they can, in time, feel they are just being a plain nuisance. All these demoralising thoughts can be the root cause of the frustration or be the reason why they do not contact family members or friends from the past who may still be active or lead busy lives.

Sometimes, the above can also be the main reasons why they choose not to go out, or perhaps numerous falls have made them  lose their confidence to walk even just a few paces, often resulting in a form of fear, or perhaps a fear to cook, or to take those few paces to the tap for a glass of water. Or perhaps they are frightened to drink too much water or indeed to eat too much just in case they have an accident, which they are perhaps not fit enough to tidy up afterwards, resulting again in a massive dent to their inner pride or self esteem or to put it bluntly the embarrassment that such accidents can cause.

Whichever way one looks at it, becoming frail or infirm or aged is a massively difficult stage to not only accept but to adjust to, some never do adjust and others accept it gracefully and others do adjust given time and a mass of understanding from family members and friends.

The one thing we all often forget is for many decades the individuals, who suffer from such conditions mentioned above, spent many a year looking after their juniors, giving them a roof over their heads, food on the table, even when times were perhaps difficult, but one thing for sure is, nine times out of ten, they will always have put their family first before themselves and done the best they possibly could have done for them no matter the circumstances or the personal issues they may have been quietly experiencing themselves.

Think back to when you were a child, your parent/parents spoke to you in a language you understood, they played games that your age could cope with such as kicking a ball, riding a bike or just simple snap! or they took you to events that suited you, no matter whether you were 2, 7,9, or 18 years of age. So using this simple lesson that they showed us for quite a number of years how should we communicate and treat them?

We need to mirror image their lives, with slow encouragement with things that perhaps made them feel good when they were younger, for example, tidy hair or a hint of aftershave/[erfume. It's almost cruel to go into a calm home like a whirlwind in a china shop and expect them to get up, stand up and walk within 2 minutes of entering especially if they are mostly chair bound or do not move for most of the day. Often their bones are brittle and their muscles sore, their heads have often been still for most of the day so moving fast can make them giddy and dizzy.

Another thing to remember is that multiple forms of medication can make the taste buds change resulting in some foods tasting horrible or bland but can also result in certain foods making the individual feel constipated. So, in other words, their favoured meal of decades ago may have been mince and potatoes but this can change, so don't be frightened to try some savoury foods or some simple cooled down lime and crushed ginger cordial instead of tea or coffee.

So here are some simple suggestions that will make things easier and reduce much of the frustration that all family members and friends can feel.

1 Make sure you have an hour to spare.

2 Leave your fast world on their doorstep and pick it up when you leave.

3 Sense their mood and adjust accordingly.

4 Share a cup of something and a nibble with them (humans are social eaters/drinkers) this will increase their liquid and food intake at the same time. 

5 If they doze off, let them, just quietly leave the room and quietly potter in their kitchen popping your head round the door every so often to see if they have come back from their 'power nap'. Often humans feel much more relaxed when someone is with them, so consider their nap a compliment to you visiting them. 

6 Put yourself in their shoes, talk about what they see out of their window, or what makes them feel good. Boost their morale by instilling the importance of their existence albeit their wisdom they pass on to you, your family and any carers that may have to be present on a daily basis. 

7 Take some music along, or some old photographs to leave on their table for their memory bank to be reunited with their past of which many can be lost in the long hours of each day. Remember always that a day in their life can seem like a full month of you being awake, leaving each day to be endless and long-winded. 

8 Don't feel obliged to speak all the time, just sharing half an hour of their silent world can be as important for them as well as much less tiring.

9 Ask them how their carers are, as they can often seem like family members to them, purely due to the fact that they see your relative on a regular basis. Make sure that they are happy with each Carer, and if they are not then DO NOT HESITATE to do your own investigations or insist that a Carer your relative has issues with is changed to someone more compatible. Make sure Carers are also able to adjust to your relatives 'slow' mode and that their weaker sides, or weaker joints are handled with extreme care. In saying this, sadly many staff who work for Care Companies are working against the clock so there can sometimes be a tendency to rush everything leading to frustration and temper changes in your relative. Question serious behavioural changes as this may not be down to the sufferer but instead down to rough handling or too much speed. 

10 If you are employing a Carer, make sure they are compatible with your relative and that there is some interest in common or that the potential Carer has the ability to sense what your relative desires or needs to make them feel good or to hold on to their dignity. 

11 Ultimately always allow the sufferer to have their voice and try not to finish off their sentence for them and try to deter Carers from doing the same.

12 If your friend or relative has had a stroke remember that their nerve endings on the paralysed side can feel electrically static or as sore as a red raw wound so handle these specific joints slowly and gently with perhaps some padding between your hand and their limbs. The paralysed side can also feel cold or have the same sensation as shingles and to ease this discomfort or coldness a warm cashmere or soft shawl or blanket gently placed on the paralysed side can help greatly.

13 Many local Craft Groups create Twiddle Muffs or a Twiddle blanket so investing in one of these can also be a great soother.

 Twiddle Muff link

14 As age or health takes over remember, even if they are asleep or in a coma, subconsciously they can still hear you and feel that stroke of a hand or that kiss on the forehead.

15 Always remember that one day you might not have your wonderful relative/friend, who is filled with bookfuls of wisdom, to visit so treasure every moment. 

On behalf of millions of humans and living creatures who have not been or who are not given 50/50 communication - thank you for taking the time to read this brief post.