Insulted ! But it doesn't really matter :)

I spent an hour delivering a memory cafe session in a Nursing Home today.

I was met with a variety of reactions, some were asleep and some were quite vocal as usual, shouting across the room to each other. Three of the residents were coming in to sit down and one left to go to the loo, one gentleman was trying to read his paper and one was deciding which chair to sit on. Staff in and out, Zimmer frames, walking sticks and tables in the centre of the room. All of this, in a cramped lounge area, the armchairs placed side to side, around the edges of the room. Mayhem !

I introduced myself and explained what we were about to do. This brought about some raised eyebrows, smiles and an "Oh no!" from a lady I will call Lily.

I didn't falter, put the music on and started the session. Lily started to groan. It was too loud and she stared at me. I smiled. Some of the other residents started to join in when they recognised the music, some sang and some just stayed as they were, eyes closed, oblivious in their own worlds. It could have been day or night, they were completely unaware of what was going on in their immediate vicinity.

We waltzed and sang, jived and sang some more, all the time, Lily complaining about the singer's voice or that the song was "awful". Can she go home, is it tea time, she's not coming again, can I take her home? 

I stood up to let a gentleman out and Lily told me I shouldn't wear my leggings again, she didn't like them and they made my bum look big ! (My bum IS big at the moment, but hey, I'm working on it, so it wasn't the leggings !)

Lily tutted and moaned , I asked "is everyone ok ?" No Lily replied and so it went on !

Fortunately, most of the other residents by now had woken up and were participating in the dance or were singing along and were obviously enjoying themselves.

We danced some more, then it was time to slow them down. We started to stretch with our arms opened. Lily told me that my boobs were too big ! I chuckled, not really insulted and the Staff Nurse remarked that it wasn't such a bad thing ! 

It was time to relax and bring some calm to the group. It took a while but I put on some quiet, floaty music and spoke to them. I spoke to them about what makes them happy, who they would like to be with, their favourite places and they relaxed. I spoke quietly and calmly so that they were comforted. They all became quiet and rested.

And I looked at them, really looked. Old ladies and old men who had lost their independence. Their bodies are worn and tired but they still have their characters and qualities that make them individuals. Individuals that have loved and have been loved. Personalities with different dispositions and temperaments. Grumpy, sad, kind, frustrated, but they all rested, even Lily! They were all relaxing with their eyes closed so I put another track on and just spoke every now and then, so that they knew they were safe and that I was still there. They didn't have to move, it was ok to rest. And I left them, sleeping, resting and peaceful, if only for a few more minutes. 

These lovely people all deserve to have quality time at the ends of their lives. It doesn't matter if they make rude comments, are grumpy or impatient. They may be bored or in pain. It may be part of the disease process and it can leave them feeling vulnerable, distressed and scared.

So be kind, be patient and don't judge. 

Pat Taylor x

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