wings and things

Up hill and down dale

on January 8, 2015

One of the things I do during my afternoon shifts at the nursing home is to take wheelchair-bound residents for a ‘stroll’ around the grounds or, if it’s too hot, through the facility, or both. Until I got this job, and before volunteering, I wasn’t familiar with the layout but now I am; there are four ‘houses’ each with its own name, but all almost identical in design (kitchen and dining room in the centre, living rooms x 2, patio area and garden, and bedrooms all private and each with an ensuite, at the opposite ends of a hallway.)

Anthony is in the ‘high care’ section at the centre of the facility and this is more hospital-like in terms of design.

The ‘Dementia house’ (obviously not called that, and named after a significant person, but, for the sake of privacy, let’s call it ‘The Lodge’) has ten permanent residents, all women, most of whom are mobile but three of whom require wheelchairs to go any distance. I absolutely LOVE going for a walk with these beautiful women up and around the curves and corners and small hills of this facility, inside and outside, down hallways, through gardens, into other ‘houses’ to visit.

I only do a few short shifts per week (3-6pm) and the job description is “Lifestyle assistant” so am still learning how to be more creative with activities, games (not my forte!) But what an absolutely WONDERFUL job! To be able to socialise, converse, have fun with people who have dementia. The thing I like to do most is going for a walk and sometimes this is hilariously rewarding like the time I took Suzie past Anthony’s room, and we waved (even after just a couple of weeks, Ants has come to expect this and waves back), and Suzie said to me, “Poor old bastard”.

I retorted: “That’s my husband, Suzie!”
“Oh sorry,” she said, chortling with mirth.

Okay, back to the up hill reference: Fiona is heavy and wheel-chair bound so I get a bit terrified now because the other day, as we were going UP the driveway, her wheelchair decided that DOWN might be better and I briefly lost control and we landed gently into a rosebush, unharmed. Fiona, who constantly hums a refrain of a hymn I am yet to recognise, giggled, sitting regally in her wheelchair while I struggled with thorns.

All names have been changed to protect the privacy of these people with the exception of my beautiful husband, Anthony, who, when I was wheeling someone past his room the other day and waving as we always do, called out, “You’re getting faster, Jules!”

But, by the time I am finished my shift and go back to Anthony, he is so confused and sleepy that saying goodbye isn’t difficult because it is now possible to comfort him with “I am just going up to the shop to get some bread.”

48 responses to “Up hill and down dale

  1. You just need to put your family first for your priorities.. but that does include ‘you’ .. take time for you to do something you would like… or ‘just nothing’… depending on your energy level…Diane

  2. I feel less motivated because of the cold here. Could it be that it’s so hot there it is draining your energy? Whatever it is, this too shall pass Jules. *HUGS*
    Diana xo

  3. A couple of days away would be a great tonic Jules x

  4. Vicki says:

    Sounds enormous fun with the dementia patients. No doubt they would find the smallest pleasures in the simplest of activities.

    But then that’s what living Mindfully is. Being in the Moment and experiencing joy in the very act of living – something everyone should do – if not always, then mostly.

    Julie, you be whatever you want to be and whatever time in your life.

    After all, its Your Life and nobody else’s. (now where DOES the apostrophe go?).

    By kind to yourself and %$#!& the rest! (when you’re finished being Blah, I’m sure you’ll find yourself exactly where you want, and need, to be).


  5. well one thing is for sure, all the extra walking will make you fitter and keep you slim. if you feel like time away , its a sign that you need to replenish your energy stores. just do it.

  6. susanpoozan says:

    It sounds like a great idea, to go away for a couple of days. Do you need peace or pampering?

  7. bulldog says:

    Sounds like you need a break, a “my time”… Jules never forget the most important person in your life… YOU…. if you’re not strong all those that love you will suffer, so take the time to relax and enjoy Jules… Sterkte…

  8. I love Anthony’s call outs to you. 🙂 And I hope you do ‘do’ something for your energy. You know you would be the first to be telling someone else….take care of you as well!!!!! 😉

  9. You sound mentally and emotionally rejuvenated and it is so wonderful to hear Jules. Hugs 😀

  10. “You’re getting faster, Jules,” is precious that Ants said that. Go Jules! Go Ants! So nice that you are wheeling some of the residents around. ❤

  11. Rhonda says:

    You really should see what you can do about getting those couple days away Jules. Just to recharge a bit. That is, in fact, one of the reasons I came way up north to be with my father so my mother could take a few for herself, as she cares for him 24/7. She grabbed a friend and hit the road, bound for a bit o casino fun, room service, and sleeping the nights through without worry of what she’ll find in the morning. That’s my wish for you right now…I hope there is a way. xoxo

  12. Jules, you would have NO idea how much comfort this has given me today.
    There has been the dilemma for me of whether we (my siblings and I) can continue to care for my mother in her home or whether we will take the nursing home option.
    Meanwhile back in my other life (dealing with matrimonial settlement etc etc), I realise that there is no ‘real’ life. It is gone. That causes me much grief and distress.
    Then I read your post of the joys of caring for wheel-chair bound patients with dementia, and you loving it. That made me take a good hard look at what is really important in life. I know now my focus must be my mother and making the most of this precious time I still have with her.
    Whether it is the nursing home option, or the at-home option, is not relevant as much as the focus should be with her and her well-being.
    Thanks you so much, dear friend, for your post today.
    I am crying as I write this and you are an inspiration to me.
    Love and hugs to you xoxo

    • jmgoyder says:

      What a wonderful comment especially since I had ended the post on a bit of a blah note which I later deleted. I understand exactly what you mean about the ‘real’ life being gone – or that it feels that way – because at home I have been quite bleak lately. I hope you and your siblings come up with a solution that suits all of you. Nursing homes are mostly pretty good places these days. Please keep me posted and you are definitely in my thoughts and prayers Elizabeth. Love Julie

  13. You are a pure soul. 🙂

  14. Judy says:

    You do whatever helps you, Julie. I see so much in your words of what I am constantly struggling with – being my own best friend. I would never say to a friend, “I’m sick of your laziness!” But to ourselves, we can be harsh. I’d love to see you turn around your “blahs” by using self-talk that is soothing. It will energize you. Here’s my sample: “Oh, I am tired because I am so devoted to Anothony’s lodge and helping others – I deserve to relax because I expend a lot of energy uplifting other people. I’m valuable and amazing because I cope with such a tragic disease in a positive way. My words help so many people, too.” That’s just for starters! (I know all this because I am tough on myself and it doesn’t feel great. We all need a vacation from the inner critic!)

  15. Tiny says:

    I’m happy you got this wonderful job! I’m sure you’ll come up with some activities the ladies will enjoy. Just be careful with gravity, it always wants to go downhill.

  16. Terry says:

    You have a lot to deal with each day physical and emotionally. I think you are doing great !

  17. tootlepedal says:

    I like the thought of your excursion to the rose bush being greeted with giggles. You will be getting super fit.

  18. Lynda says:

    Your recounting of your workday makes me smile, Julie. I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling tired. I am guessing that it is your system’s reaction to going back to work. I think that soon enough you will start feeling more energy.. 🙂

  19. janeslog says:

    I’m sure the residents love you taking them for a walk.

    I am about to leave for work and try and get a bus as Scotrail have suspended all train services. Wish we had nice weather like you are getting.

  20. Judith Post says:

    I’m forever making new schedules for myself. They always look good on paper:) Your walks with your ladies sound wonderful, and glad you’re getting faster!

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