The Great Adventure

November 17, 2010

They say growing old is not for sissies. We need to change the way society looks at and deals with growing old. The prevailing view of ageing is that it’s something to be feared. The ageing process is a natural part of the life cycle. Instead of dreading old age, we should be celebrating the fact that we are living longer, that ageing is not a burden but an opportunity. Growing older really can be the ‘great adventure’.

A survey carried out in the UK asked older people what their main priorities were. The first issue was health. You would expect the second to be money or pensions but it was actually the maintenance of social contacts. Keeping in touch with people is an essential part of healthy living when you get older. Many over 65’s are mortgage-free and fitter and healthier than previous generations. It’s a time when we can let ourselves dare to be more real, honest and open. We can drop the niceties and strictures of who we have been brought up to be, and start to be ourselves, without being so bothered about how others may ‘see’ us.

Old age is an opportunity to do all those things you never had time for before. Instead of spending billions on walling off the ageing, we should be spending more to improve the quality of life among the aged.

Age Action Ireland is a charity which promotes positive ageing and better policies and services for older people. Yesterday, saw the announcement of the winners of the 2010 Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action. The awards aim to acknowledge elderly people who have used IT and the internet for fun and to improve the quality of their lives. Internet access is a great way to combat isolation and allow older people to communicate with relatives abroad. You can read the stories of the winners from each category here.

The top accolade of the 3 Silver Surfer Award 2010 went to a 95 year old grandfather from Dublin who was nominated by his granddaughter. This goes to show… you’re never too old to embrace technology!

Celebrating Life

November 4, 2010

Is your energy level low? Do you find yourself wondering what the purpose of life is? With the frenetic pace of life today, it’s all too easy to forget to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. This post is a reminder… to stop and smell the roses.

When we lack proper time for the simple pleasures of life, for the enjoyment of eating, drinking, playing, creating, visiting friends and watching children at play, then we have missed the purpose of life. Not on bread alone do we live but on all these human and heart-hungry luxuries.” – Ed Hayes

Below is a list of suggestions for simple ways to slow down and enjoy life more…

1.) Blow bubbles.

2.) Whistle.

3.) Sing in the shower.

4.) Dance in the rain. Catch raindrops on your tongue.

5.) Stop and listen to a street musician.

6.) Plan a picnic and go for a drive or a walk in the woods.

7.)  Leave a hidden love note for someone close to your heart.

8.)  Tickle your sense of humour with whatever makes you laugh.

9.)  Make someone’s day by complimenting them or by giving them a smile.

10)  Indulge your tastebuds. Cook your favourite meal and invite friends around to share it with you.

11)  Go out for a walk and take your camera along: capture the beauty as you go.

12)  Find out what art exhibitions are on in your area and go along and attend.

13)  Enjoy the sound of walking through freshly fallen leaves.

14)  Plant pots of bulbs to be enjoyed in the Spring.

15)  Buy a bird feeder and place it somewhere where you can watch the birds come and go.

16)  Pamper yourself with a soak in a hot bath by candlelight.

17)  Walk barefoot on a sandy beach, feeling the sand between your toes.

18)  Renew a friendship with someone you’ve lost touch with.

19)  Vist a bookshop/library and choose a book you’d love to read.

20)  Give someone a hug today.

Have you any suggestions which you’d like to add to this list? Remember, it’s the little things that count.

Life, I love you, all is groovy – by Simon and Garfunkel

Inspiration for this post: Simple Ways to Celebrate and Enjoy Life.

Nuisance Phone Calls

September 29, 2010

I need your help! For some time now, I’ve been receiving nuisance phone calls on a landline at home and while it’s not a huge issue, I’d really welcome some advice on how to solve the problem. If you have experience of dealing with a malicious caller, I’d love to hear from you.

The caller is male, probably of Far Eastern origin and rings our home phone number up to 5 times a day… well, on the days/evenings when we’re at home anyhow. We have caller ID on all our phones but the phone number from this caller always shows as ‘unavailable’.

If I answer an ‘unavailable’ call, I only say “hello” and wait for a response. There is always a delay before the same male voice says “hello” back. If I say nothing further, he rings off. Sometimes I pick up the phone but say nothing and he will say “hello” repeatedly at which point, I put the phone down as I recognise his voice.

On occasion, the caller has tried to lure me into conversation with the pretence that it’s a sales call. I avoid this as I know that most malicious callers gain pleasure from upsetting the person they call. By showing no emotion, I’m hoping I may be able to put him off.

When he rang this afternoon, I said “hello” and then as soon as I heard his voice, I took great pleasure in blowing a loud whistle down the phone. I hope it really hurt his ear but unfortunately, it hasn’t put him off.

My daughter answered the phone to him this evening and she recognised his voice straight away. She told him calmly that she knew where he was calling from and that she’d reported him to the police. He immediately went on the defence and said that his location couldn’t be traced. This reaction confirms that he is a malicious caller. My daughter repeated to him in a calm voice, that she had reported him for making harassing phone calls and then put the phone down. He has not rung since.

You may well ask why we continue to answer calls which show the number as ‘unavailable.’ The answer is that my mother is very ill at the moment and every time the phone rings, I wonder if it is the nursing home trying to contact me and so I answer the phone just in case. While the nuisance caller doesn’t  know this fact, his calls are proving highly insensitive at a time like this.

On looking online for solutions on how to deal with malicious callers, it appears that some phone companies offer a ‘privacy manager’ service, but at a cost and it irks me that I should have to pay to get rid of this guy.

Is this really the only solution for dealing with nuisance callers or has anyone got any other ideas?

Taking A Breather

September 18, 2010

Next week, I head to my favourite part of the world to enjoy a short break in the company of old friends. I always say… there’s no better place than Connemara for enjoying healthy fresh air which comes straight in off the Atlantic. It sure blows away the cobwebs and refreshes you, ready to take on whatever life throws at you next.

And, there’s no better place to enjoy a pint of Guinness® either. As Arthur’s Day coincides with our holiday, I’ve no doubt we’ll join in the worldwide celebration and raise a pint to Arthur.

For those who’ve never been to Connemara, I can highly recommend it. It’s hard to put into words what it is about the place that draws me back year after year. This video says it better than I ever could…

‘Bike Ride in Connemara’ by Ralph Lavelle, June 2009

Back soon!

Ah, sure it’ll do!

July 10, 2010

Where else, except in Ireland, would you get away with this?

A Gift

May 20, 2010

I had a birthday earlier this week and since I’ve now reached an age where the candles cost more than the cake, I started to think about growing old and how we age.

Most people don’t want to think about their coming decrepitude and frankly, you can’t blame them. Bette Davis once famously said, “The young don’t know it yet, but old age ain’t for sissies”.

Did you know that the risk of a driver over 80 having a fatal car crash is 3 times higher than that of a teenager? Old folks have poor night vision as the amount of light reaching the retina, decreases with age.

The elderly tire easily, their sense of smell diminishes, their teeth fall out and their skin dries out. Their sweat glands can’t function which is why the elderly are so susceptible to heat stroke and exhaustion. Hair grows grey as you run out of the pigment that gives hair it’s colour. You will lose 3 inches of your height.

Does all this talk of growing old, sound too depressing for you?

Well then, have a read of this…

“The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed but I explained that it was an interesting question and I would ponder it, and let her know.

Old age, I’ve decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body… the wrinkles, the baggy eyes and the sagging butt. And often I am taken back by that old person that lives in my mirror but I don’t agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less grey hair or a flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become more kind to myself and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend. I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to overeat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with ageing.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 am, and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60’s and 70’s and if, at the same time, I wish to weep over a lost love… I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the bikini set.

They, too, will grow old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten … and I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn grey and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. I can say “no” and mean it. I can say “yes” and mean it.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been or worrying about what will be.

And I shall eat dessert every single day.”

Author unknown.

So to whoever wrote this, I say “thank you”. It’s the nicest gift I’ve received in a very long while.

Always remember… growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional.

Got the Call

June 1, 2009

got the callOur phone has not stopped ringing since last Friday and emails and texts are arriving by the minute. It seems that everyone who ever knew and loved my dear mum-in-law, wants to attend her funeral service next Saturday. As many people will be travelling by air, they are making a weekend of it and so it’s rapidly turning into a 3-day event. It’s gonna be a busy weekend. What was that I heard about getting rest?

It’s a bank holiday here today so the hubby and I set-off on an early morning walk to clear our minds. Our peace and quiet was soon disturbed by the sound of my mobile phone ringing. It was Nottingham letting me know that my operation had been scheduled for Friday. Help! I pleaded exceptional circumstances in light of the funeral on Saturday and managed to get the surgery postponed to the following week. The date has yet to be confirmed.

Frankly, this is one call I could have done without today. As Nancy says, it never rains but it pours around here! You’ve gotta laugh.

A Real Supergran

May 31, 2009

I feel very out of touch with the blog world.  It’s been a roller coaster week here.  It’s got to the stage where when the phone rings, my heart falls.  No news, really is good news.

It all started on the day of the Heineken cup rugby final when my father was rushed to hospital by ambulance with chest pains. After an anxious wait in A&E, news came through that his pain was non-cardiac in origin and so once my dad’s condition had stabilised, he was discharged back to the nursing home.

The following day, my mum-in-law’s health suddenly deteriorated and we were told that her end was nigh. Thus begun a round-the-clock family vigil at her bedside which lasted for five days.  She died peacefully on Friday surrounded by her nearest and dearest. Her funeral will take place next weekend when family and friends will gather from around the world to celebrate a dear life. She was a wonderful mum and a real supergran and will be deeply missed.

In the midst of all this, my son Robin woke last Friday morning with a very swollen foot. He was due to leave at lunchtime on a walking holiday with friends so we had to act fast. His problem was solved by a visit to a VHI SwiftCare Clinic which had him assessed and processed in less than one hour and on his way to Kerry. The following morning Robin phoned to say that the swelling had moved up his leg and a phonecall to SwiftCare confirmed that he should return home.  I collected him off the train several hours later and ferried him back to the clinic for re-assessment. Again, Robin was seen very quickly and thankfully, this time the news was better. He was instructed to rest-up and allow the antibiotics to take effect. SwiftCare is a privatised clinic funded by a health insurance company, to deal with minor injuries and illnesses. I could not fault the care that Robin received there. It would have been a very different story had we attended the A&E department at our local hospital. By lunchtime today, Robin was back on the train to Kerry to re-join his friends.

Thankfully, today has been a rest day.  There’s been no news as yet on a date for my surgery.  Right now the silence from Nottingham, is a welcome reprieve.

It’s a big YES!

April 17, 2009

vote-yesSomething extraordinary was witnessed on the ‘Britain’s Got Talent‘ show last week.

This lady has talent.

No one’s laughing at her now. There’s a lesson in this for all of us. Enjoy!

Preparation for Surgery

April 13, 2009

Here’s another excerpt from my little book of Home Nursing.  It details the preparation of the patient for surgery…

preparation-for-surgery“On the day before the operation the nurse should ask the surgeon how he wishes the patient to be prepared. If no specific instructions are given the patient should if possible be kept quiet the previous day: he should take only light food, have a warm bath and an aperient in the evening. On the day of the operation he may, if the operation is not to be performed too early, and with the surgeon’s permission, have a light breakfast of tea, with toast and butter, and, three hours before the operation, a cup of tea or bovril.

His preparation begins with a simple enema first thing in the morning. Then he may have a warm bath or be well sponged down.  The area of the operation must now be sterilized by shaving and then cleansing thoroughly with either soap or spirit soap, which must be washed off with hot water; the skin must again be washed with hot biniodide of mercury solution, and covered with a compress of lint or gauze wrung out of the same solution: or, after drying, the skin may be painted over with mild tincture of iodine, allowed to dry and covered with a dry sterile towel.

Before the operation artificial teeth, hair-pins, jewellery, etc., must be removed, and if the hair is long in a woman it should be plaited in two plaits tied at the ends. The patient must put on warm flannel clothes which can be removed easily, and long woollen stockings.”

Now that’s what you call pre-operative care. These days, patients are admitted to hospital on the day of surgery and the pre-op preparation is left almost entirely to the patient. I can remember once getting it completely wrong and I paid the price.

I had a young baby at the time and instead of resting the day before my surgery, I rushed around putting preparations in place for during my absence. The following moring I insisted on getting myself to the hospital so that my husband could stay at home to look after our baby. Having fasted from the night before, I travelled by train to the hospital and arrived feeling totally parched and exhausted. I had a particularly difficult post-operative recovery from the anaesthetic on that occasion and it taught me a lesson. In today’s world of conveyor belt medicine, it’s really important to rest the day before surgery so as to optimise your powers of recovery. Allow yourself to be pampered!

UPDATE: I’ve just spotted this letter to the Irish Times from a Consultant in Emergency Medicine, which fits in nicely with the ‘ patient care’ theme of this post.

“And the Minister should focus on the universal need for a familiar smiling face. Let us have carers who have the time to care and the moral support of a loved one in our hour of need. Health economists may have factored these basics out in their many dubious prescriptions, but Mother Nature has not”.