Working in an aged care facility gives me a front row seat of what’s going on with old people’s lives.
Some of our residents are very vocal about how they feel; physically, emotionally and even mentally. Oh yes, they love to talk….and with so much passion!
For those who could no longer express how they feel, there are various assessment tools that we can use to come up with a good clinical judgment of their general well-being.
Gaining Their Trust
Back when I was still working on the floor as a Registered Nurse, I used to love having a little chat with our residents (a.k.a consumers, clients, customers) while helping them with their activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as showering, toileting and even during feeding.
I find it easier to gain their compliance to do some tasks and make them voice out how they really feel if I have their trust.
I would normally ask them about their personal life and then tell them a little bit about myself as well. In that way, they will not feel that I am prying into their lives as I also share my own life story.
I am very mindful about what I share though, trying my best not to tell them something that will make them sad or upset. I try to tell them interesting or inspiring stories so they will feel uplifted and inspired.
They have so much going on in their lives already, the last thing they need is listen to another sad story.
What are the 10 great things about getting older?
When I was younger, I was scared to get old as I associate old age with close to dying stage. After how many years of working with the elderly population, I realized there are so many great things about getting older. To summarize, I have listed 10 of them below.
1. More wisdom and experience.
Living for almost a century, our residents had certainly experienced a lot and learned a lot from their mistakes and failures. They already know what they want and how to react if they cannot get it. They also know the limit of their own capabilities; what they can and cannot do.
You will be amazed with the quality of advice you will get from them should you decide to ask for one. Some would even crack a joke or two just to make you smile when they notice you are having a bad day.
2. More positive outlook on life.
Some of our residents look at aging as normal part of life. They are so grateful that they have reached their age and are still able to enjoy life. They tend to value everything that life has to offer. They attend all activities that are being offered to them. Some of them try to stay away from others who always tend to think and see things negatively.
One resident even mentioned that he is so much happier now that he is old than when he was much younger as he doesn’t have to worry about a lot of things.
3. More time to spend with family.
For those who are always visited by their families, they can either just chat in the resident’s room for the entire visit or go for a walk around the facility. Sometimes they even attend activities like mass, bingo or go dancing together during happy hour. Some family members also bring their dad or mum out for lunch or spend the whole day doing shopping or just staying at their house so they can have a break from the nursing home even for a short while.
We have one resident who is always being visited by her daughter and grandchildren almost everyday after school. They show her what they have been doing in school. They even sing her new songs that they have learned that day.
4. Learning new skills and hobbies.
Some people spent most of their time working when they were younger so they can provide for their family. Now that they are retired, they have more time to learn new skills such as knitting, crocheting, woodworking, gardening, playing instruments, painting and other things.
They are really passionate about their new skills, they spend hours trying to finish their new project. Some of our female residents who love to crochet/knit would even ask staff to bring them some yarn so they could make them a scarf or even clothes for their children.
5. Senior discounts.
One of the perks of getting old is having senior discounts. They get a certain percentage discount when they go to restaurants or hotels. They are also entitled for discounts when taking public transport such as bus or train. Even with some medications, they pay very little after deducting the discount.
6. Freedom from work hassles.
Being retired has a lot of advantages. No need to set up the alarm clock to wake up so early in the morning to get to work on time. They can get up anytime they want. Some even stay in bed all day.
No more stressful rush hour traffic, no deadline submissions to think of and no horrible boss to deal with.
7. Chance to pursue their dreams.
The responsibility of earning a living for the family always took priority when they were younger. They had to do things that they were not really passionate about. They didn’t get the chance to choose something that they really like as long as they can provide for their family.
When they retire and have nothing else to do, they see the opportunity to purse their lifelong dream. Sometimes, it just turns out to be one of their hobbies and sometimes it can become another source of income.
8. Time to do voluntary work.
Doing something for other people gives some of our residents a sense of accomplishment.
One of them likes setting up the table every lunch and dinner. Another takes pride in leading the holy rosary during mass. There are some who take turns calling the numbers out during bingo. Another enjoys delivering newspaper to other residents every other day.
This way, they still feel valued and useful which increases their self-worth and self-esteem.
9. Fashion freedom.
When you are young, you tend to value other people’s opinion so much. You feel like you always have to abide by the fashion norm.
When you get older, you don’t care so much about the trend, what is new and what is in. All you care about is what makes you comfy and what is easy to wear.
Some of our residents couldn’t care less about how they look. Some wear pajamas all day long, some wear flashy clothes like it’s always Christmas, and some even wear high-heeled shoes even if they are high falls risk.
They wear whatever they want, whenever they want and they wear them with confidence!
10. Right to use the “senior moment” excuse.
Getting old is sometimes accompanied by cognitive decline or some degree of memory loss.
Sometimes they forget where they have put their keys or other personal stuff.
Sometimes they forget to turn off the stove or the bread toaster causing the fire alarm to go off.
Sometimes they can’t remember other people’s name even their own children’s.
Sometimes they forget to make their bed or something as simple as flushing the toilet.
All these things can be blamed on having a “senior moment” and they will be forgiven.
Something to celebrate!
Getting old certainly is not a bad thing. Sure, there are some physical changes such as having wrinkles and saggy skin, or hearing and vision impairment.
You may lose all your teeth or your heart and other organs may start to slow down. You may also have mental and emotional changes such as having depression, anxiety, memory loss and other cognitive decline.
All these functional decline and losses I think will be outweighed by a person’s outlook in life. Once you have come to accept that aging comes with all these things, you will learn to live with them.
Who knows, you may even get to use them as an excuse in uncomfortable situations. You can say “I don’t feel well.”, if you don’t feel like doing something. You can also say ” What did you say? I can’t hear you.” if you don’t like what other people are saying.
If you are one of the lucky people who don’t get to experience any of them, then you should celebrate.
As Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson once said in one of his interviews, “Getting older is a gift. It should be celebrated.”
If you know other benefits, advantages, or great things about getting older that I have not included above, please feel free to share in the comment section below. Let’s all learn from each other.