Tag Archives: Older in Ireland

Leaving the world behind #1 – the ancient mariner. 

In the summer of 2016 I spent 6 weeks in a care facility following surgery on a multiple leg fracture. Six long weeks. Six weeks when I wondered what ever would become of me, six long weeks when I had time to contemplate what might lie ahead should I need care that could not be given by my family. Here I observed daily life in a rural nursing home/ care facility populated by elderly who were cared for by enthusiastic young girls and men, and by mostly Phillipino and immigrant nurses. These are my thoughts on those surreal weeks.

The Ancient Mariner

Tall and distinguished, gold chain hanging from a waistcoat pocket, white shirt, with a perfectly knotted tie and wearing an exquisitely cut grey mohair suit, he arrives to the ‘library’. Probably in his 80s but looking younger, he is walking with a crutch, held backwards. He studies the library shelves, tilting his head slightly to one side to read titles on the vertical spines. Danielle Steele, Maeve Binchy, Patricia Cornwell do not stir any interest. Ian Rankin, Nelson DeMille, Andy McNab? No! The so-called Library consists of two lots of shelves in a chair lined room, with a table on one wall, covered in white linen.

He makes return trips on several consecutive days after his first arrival. The mohair suit and the beautifully knotted tie, to my surprise, are evident each day too. How long before these sartorial  items will be replaced by track suit bottoms and a tee shirt?

Sitting in the corner of a ‘library’ in a care facility, I observe the comings and goings of older people who must leave the world behind when they pass through the locked door. Some for weeks, some for longer, some forever. I wait for my broken leg to heal over possibly six weeks. In six weeks I hope to be on the outside again. Will he ever be back out there to choose his very own reading material, to peruse his own bookshelves for his reading of choice?

He turns and walks towards other shelves and I catch a glimpse of a hearing aid. Other residents are being escorted to the dining room for the last meal of the day, some walking with support, some in wheelchairs, some slowly making their own way on legs that are no longer strong. ‘What  do you like to read’ I ask, quite loudly. ‘SEX’ he responds, in as strong a voice as I have heard within these walls!  ‘ I don’t  think you will find much of that here’ I respond as he goes back to scrutinise the book shelves only feet away from a table shrouded in white linen, adorned with artificial flowers and a pair of  extinguished candles, that lies in wait for the weekly Wednesday morning mass.

SEX. Nothing could be further from life in a care home, in a nursing home, in a home for the elderly. Yet this man seeks it on the few miserable book shelves, populated by popular fiction, easy reading, chick lit, in all likelihood donated on a charitable basis by family of the patients.  What, after all would an older person want? What else could they be expected to read? Several times a day he returns to the bookshelves, almost in disbelief. Where are the books he is interested in? Where are the books suitable for a single former merchant navy seaman on these shelves beside the stark white linen altar, prepared for mass? Bent in disappointment, he swings his reversed crutch and klonks his way towards the dining room.

I need  to get out of here.

 

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Filed under Ageing in Ireland, Ireland, Living in Ireland, Older Generation, Seniors

The Silver Voice – Finalist in European e-inclusion awards !

Some time ago I was nominated by Age Action Ireland for the prestigious European wide  e-inclusion awards.  The email received just a few days ago had to be read and re-read and read again! It stated: ‘You have been selected as one of 3 finalists in the ‘I am part of IT’ Award Category to attend our e-inclusion Awards ceremony in Brussels ‘.

Established by The European Commission, the  e-Inclusion Awards  aim to ‘raise awareness, encourage participation and recognise excellence and good practice in using ICT and digital technology to tackle social and digital exclusion across Europe.‘  With the aim of collecting  all the great practice across Europe in supporting people to go online and with  the stories of people who have benefitted from their internet experience, the awards have two categories, and my nomination was made under  the ‘I am part of IT’ heading.

With Michael D.Higgins (now President of Ireland) at Google HQ, Dublin, Ireland , September last  at Google Age Action Silver Surfer Awards 2011

Nominated for the Google Age Action Silver Surfer Awards 2011, I was thrilled to win the  Social Networking  category, to which I had a very  heart-warming and supportive response. As a result of winning that award I have had enormous support and increasing readership of my blog and supporting Facebook page. Now, to have been chosen as one of  only three finalists in this category, with entries from 35 countries is quite honestly flabbergasting!

The real winners here  are Age Action, a charity that promotes positive ageing and has as an objective that Ireland will be a great place to grow old. (‘Old’ is  relative of course, and it  is a condition I wish upon you all! ). Age Action has recently won the national Aontas Star Award for adult education for their ‘Getting Started’ programme, that  assists older people (55+) to learn basic IT, internet and email skills.  They aim to help this section of society  to beat exclusion and isolation and thereby increase independence and equality.

By showing that I have managed to do this, I hope to be an ambassador for the excellent work of Age Action and look forward to being with them in Brussels later in the week!

I am indebted to Age Action for the enormous encouragement I have received by participating in their Awards schemes and to my mentor and critic Damian who nominated me for the Silver Surfer Awards and who set the bar very high with his own blog at  irishinamericancivilwar.com  and to many friends who have been so supportive.

Age Action Facebook Page is here – they would love a LIKE!

Age Action Web page is here

Damian’s excellent blog  is here 

E-inclusion website is here 

E-inclusion Awards list of Entries  is here

My Facebook Page is here 


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Filed under Ireland, Older Generation