Today I visited my neighbour who had gone into residential accommodation, with a present for his 90th birthday. It’s my third visit since he’s been there. As I arrived so did his son and daughter-in-law up from the big city. He was fast asleep, having his after dinner nap, so I had a chat to his son and his wife, put my present and card on the table and left.
I might be getting wise in my old age, anything is possible. A few years ago I’d have waited until he woke up. As I spend more time with those of advanced age it becomes more apparent, like anyone of any age, that ambition often exceeds ability.
Last year Christmas had to be cancelled for my mother at the last minute on doctor’s orders. She had so many visitors, many of whom stayed for hours, that she became hysterical and dangerous. She spent Christmas day sedated, in bed and we had the celebrations a week later when she was better.
In the same year an aunt, a year older than my mother, made her customary trip in a car the length of half the country to her son’s house as usual. On the way she did not like to ask for toilet breaks and arrived ill, fell over and was immediately carted off to hospital.
Last week in my mother’s care home they had the Christmas party, very wisely a fortnight before Christmas. I arrived, washed and set my mother’s hair, dressed her in her finery, as reported. She thought the party was great fun, stayed till the bitter end ( half past eight at night) enjoyed every minute and then they had to call the doctor out because she was ill the following day.
When you are young you hope and expect the holidays will bring something exciting that will last into the small hours at least every other day and include vast amounts of eating, drinking and dancing. When you are old you dread it.
And that is the clue to getting the most out of the holidays for the very senior. A couple of hours of mild excitement, while seated, followed by several days of rest. So, for my mother, what is now planned is for us to turn up later in the afternoon, baby proof her room and then enjoy for up to an hour the company of her great granddaughter after which we’ll all go home to bed. That’s it. She is under strict instruction after her Christmas lunch to go to her room and rest. If she isn’t feeling well enough to go to the dining room, to have her lunch in her own room and then rest.
On the whole it’s not terribly different from Christmas for babies, if the nap isn’t built into the plan you know it will all end in tears. Which is why I was happy to leave my neighbour today. I’ll visit later in the week when he’s had time to recover from having a birthday.
There is a Spanish proverb: How beautiful it is to do nothing and then rest afterwards. I think this is the perfect prescription for those of advanced age wishing to survive the festive season.
I even hope to manage a bit of it myself.
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ happy Christmas zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz