How to help when they think you are
still a ‘child’
Did Princess Anne start her Royal Trust for Carers out of frustration? !! Imagine trying to make this pair of pensioners listen to you.
Most Carers, looking after someone older than them, will find they have difficulty in getting them to follow their requests. And however much you know, they won’t take advice from a ‘child’ (however old you might be).
When my brother was 35 , he and father started an argument over dinner. Daddy eventually became furious as my brother was winning, so thumped the table and shouted “GO UPSTAIRS TO BED”. And couldn’t see why we all burst out laughing.
So you have my sympathy – and a few tips gleaned from other Carers, and learnt whilst looking after two parents with cancer, who wouldn’t have dreamt of listening to me!
Our parents’ generation are often horrified at us spending so much on our faces. Mother’s friends bought their skincare at Woolworths, until it closed down. So they see no need to spend more than a fiver on a jar of face-cream.
When it became obvious that mother needed better skincare, otherwise her face would have become deeeply lined and painful, I took to sneaking Clinique and Elemis into her shopping basket when I had to go to Boots or John Lewis. Provided I ditched the packaging going home, I could say that ‘”this was on special offer”. And her face lost its dry, parched skin.
As we get older, our body skin gets parched. Add cancer drug side effects to the equation, and you have a recipe for itchy skin. Mother did complain about this, and it must have been painful as she actually asked advice. As is usual, she had been prescribed E45; her skin must have become tolerant, so I got her to change to Cetraben (on prescription) and her itching disappeared. Again, most of her generation wouldn’t dream of using a body cream, but if you explain the problem to the Doctor they will prescribe Cetraben or something similar, then all you have to do is suggest that as the doctor has prescribed this expensive product, why not use it as it would be a shame to waste it.
Again, our ‘fads’ with eating fruit and veg – especially if we insist on Organic – are alien to many older people. And all the newspaper comment about hospital food has made me question what’s in the ready-meals we buy for the elderly, out of supermarket freezer cabinets. Yes, they are convenient. Yes, they can be popped into the microwave. But – what do they contain?
OAPs are usually very patriotic, and can see the sense in supporting British Farmers. Our local Farmer’s Market has stalls selling ready-prepared meals; all dishes that the older generation love, such as Cottage Pie, Steak and Kidney, etc. So I have done a deal with one of the stalls; I order about three or four of their ready-prepared meals (each meal makes up two portions for an elderly appetite). I provided the right-sized small containers (which they said they would provide next time), and each week I know the old people will get nutritious meals.
Jane, the farmer’s wife who makes the meals, says she is thinking up new dishes – so there will be plenty of variety. And I am happy because we have talked over what goes into the pies, and Jane says she wouldn’t know an E-number if it came up and hit her. She has a regular customer, and I know that every day a nutritious meal will be served by an overworked carer who doesn’t have time to make up a meal from scratch. Jane has now started to provide ‘comfort puddings’, such as jam roly poly and ginger pudding – and these have been greeted with cries of delight.
P.S. Sally has just phoned up to ask at which supermarket I bought ‘that lovely pie? She doesn’t believe in small shops – but always insists that I buy all her food at the supermarket “because they don’t make a profit out of customers”. Bless! Had to do some quick thinking to gloss over the fact the pie had come from the Farmer’s Market.
REMEDIES FOR PAINFUL JOINTS
Mentholatum is a well-known name to most chemists, as they make all kinds of useful over-the-counter remedies, such as Deep Heat, Deep Freeze, Regenovate, etc. If someone complains of painful joints, and the doctors don’t seem able to help, have a talk with your pharmacist, and more than likely they will suggest one of the remedies made by this company.
They are serious about research, and if you look carefully next time one of those precious mega-millionaire footballers pretends to fall on the pitch in agony, more than likely the coach/physio will come dashing onto the pitch and fish out a canister of Deep Freeze to spray on ‘where it’s hurting’. So if it works for footballers, Grandad is bound to believe it will work for him.
And I use it myself on my drug-side effect joint pain – and it works for me. And I am no over-paid footballer (more’s the pity).
Warning: do discuss whatever medicines Grandad or Grandmother are taking, as there are a few conditions where these type of remedies might react.
LETTING WORKMEN INTO THE HOME
If you are worried that a workman might be impersonating an employee of one of the utility companies, my invaluable gas engineer, Colin Blaize, says
1. Get the workmen to phone before they arrive (they all have mobiles)
2. Either go on the company’s website to see if they have their employee listed, and their photo posted. For British Gas look under ‘operatives’ or similar headings for other companies (personnel, our staff, etc). There should be a photo of the person who is visiting.
3. Or phone the company to confirm that the person arriving is the right one.
4. If police come to the door at night, get them to post their warrant card through the door – dial 999 and ask them to verify that the card hasn’t been stolen and it is right police officer. And don’t forget to hand back the card!
Mother became very unsteady on her feet, and eventually we were horrified to find a new doctor had prescribed some very strong sleeping pills. We tried to wean her off them – inducing tantrums. So I took a sample pill down to the herbal remedy shop, and asked the manageress if she could provide something totally similar, but that wouldn’t harm an old lady. Up she came with an idential object – which she said was a Vitamin supplement and wouldn’t cause any harm.
These were popped into the dosset box, and the sleeping pills fished out. Next day, after the first night on the vitamin pills, I innocently enquired “did you sleep well?” and was told “the best night ever”.
And, if you are at your wit’s end, and badly need advice and/or a helping hand, Princess Anne set up her Carer’s Trust to offer help.
To the public, she seems a very contained, self-sufficient and efficient figure. But, when The Queen found an intruder in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace, it was the Princess who realised, under her mother’s dignified exterior, she was very upset and worried. So she wouldn’t allow her mother to sleep without another member of the family in whichever residence she was staying, and often would fly to be with her for a night, when Prince Philip was away on official visits.
Their website has a section about useful information for those Carers looking after someone with cancer, to a discussion on where to find lists of reliable tradesmen and workmen. www.carers.org
WASHING WITHOUT WATER
Washing an elderly person’s hair is often fraught with problems, but a company called Oasis has come up with a clever idea: a Shampoo Cap.
Everything needed is contained in one hygienic pack. Instructions are written on the outside, but basically you can put the pack inside the microwave to warm it up first, then place the cap over the hair, so it covers all of it.
Massage gently, making sure all the contents are spread through the hair, then take this off and discard. And your patient has clean, hygienic hair.
Made by Synergyhealth who make simple kitsyns for giving patients ‘waterless’ bed baths, and other clever ideas. 01772-2999000 www.synergyhealthcareplc.com
This is one of main aids that you have to fight to have installed – then once in, the elderly love using it to zip up and down.
Hertfordshire based company EMS Stairlifts has set up STAIRLIFT ANGELS INITIATIVE. Conceived by directors Jonathan Muir, Mick Armstrong and Thomas Sergeant, this philanthropically motivated initiative has been designed to give back something meaningful to the communities they have served for around the last twenty five years.
EMS Stairlifts is one the UK’s oldest stairlift specialists and has a wealth of experience in the sale, installation, service, maintenance of hoists, stair, floor, step and bath lifts. Based in Baldock Hertfordshire EMS Stairlifts serves the Home Counties region and owns Europe’s largest showroom of full size and fully operative stairlifts.
As Mick Armstrong says, “While local authorities, housing associations and charities fund the cost of stairlifts for hundreds of people, unfortunately there are many others who, for a whole variety of reasons, are refused such financial assistance and it is precisely for this reason we have set up this scheme.We plan to donate one stairlift, inclusive of all fitting, service cover and warranties, worth thousands of pounds, completely free of charge every month to those applicants we consider most deserving.”
Head of sales Thomas Sergeant made it clear that the STAIRLIFT ANGELS INITIATIVE is not a publicity seeking stunt and said: “EMS is a very successful company that has grown substantially every year and this initiative has been embraced by all the staff, everyone is involved. We intend to honour this sizeable commitment for the foreseeable future, supplying free stairlifts around the region we operate in for many years to come.”
When asked about selection criteria and how the lucky recipients will be chosen, Jonathan Muir replied: “We hope to hear about people who have given much to their communities throughout their lives, perhaps having been involved with charitable endeavours or served their country and who now find themselves needing help but unable to afford a stairlift or obtain a funding grant. It is those people we feel are deserving of our help now.”
Visiting EMS Stairlifts for the first time, Oliver Heald, MP, remarked, “I was impressed that Baldock has the country’s major showroom for fully operational stairlifts. This is a huge advantage for customers and I spoke to one of my constituents who was very pleased to see and try the stairlifts in action.”
This constituent was Veronica Lee from Hertford, who, along with her son Chris, certainly got more than they bargained for during their visit to the showroom last week.
After visiting the EMS Stairlifts website Chris had brought his mother over to the Baldock showroom and was delighted to discover it was the best, if not the only, place to try a large number of fully working stairlifts.
However, neither of them was expecting a personal welcome from their local MP and an opportunity to discuss one or two constituency matters in addition to choosing a stairlift.
Picture shows Mick Armstrong, Thomas Sergeant and Jonathan Muir of EMS Stairlifts. Front: Veronica Lee and Oliver Heald MP