Monday, 7 September 2009

A Reading Meme

I was checking out Darlene's blog HERE and her interesting replies to the Kreativ Blogger award and came across a meme that Rain had sent her. Darlene urges us to participate if we're inclined, whether we've been specifically invited or not, so I am.

The meme is to turn to page 161, sentence 5 and blog it. I'm reading David Lodge's "Deaf Sentence" about a retired professor who has lost his hearing. It's both comic and sad when he writes about this and it's given me an insight into what my other half suffers with his poor hearing (and not a few guilty pangs about my insensitivity at times.) The professor's elderly father is struggling to maintain his independence and failing and the 5th sentence has relevance to anyone thinking of residential care homes for the elderly, where the cost is finely calibrated to the degree of comfort offered. (He is talking about the UK here):-

"At the lowest end of the scale you get a stale smell of cooking in the dining room, and of pungent air-freshener in the lounge, fumed oak furniture and faded floral wallpaper in the bedrooms: at the top end air conditioning and sleek modular furniture and tasteful decor."

I must go beyond this 5th sentence as it is so poignant and depressingly true of many of the places I visited in the course of my work aeons ago....

"But there is the same rather melancholy atmosphere in all of them, of lonely old people waiting stoically for death, deepened rather than relieved by the tinselly Christmas decorations in the common room".

At one time residential care homes were for people who were still ambulant and had all their faculties. Nursing homes were for people who were physically disabled and intermittently confused. As both of these could be paid for out of the public purse, there was always an argument about who should pay - Social Services or the Health Service. I don't know if it's changed. But whenever I came across homes as described by Lodge, the lowest end of the scale was always those financed by the State.

I saw a t.v. programme recently which was the exception to this run by the Mary Feilding Guild, a non-profit making Charity. They only take active older people, many of whom were in their 80s and 90s. They go out to concerts, galleries, do t'ai chi, play Scrabble and income is no bar to living there as they have financial help for those of lesser means. For those interested, look HERE .

In this part of Spain, there are very few homes for older people as the family take their responsibilities to their grandparents very seriously and are very involved. It's not uncommon to see grandchildren out with a grandparent, helping with shopping, doctors and dentists. At the traditional weekend lunch, there could be 4 generations sitting down together.

There are very active clubs for "jubilados" (pensioners) who have reduced-cost holidays, excursions, educational talks - including talks on sexuality for older people. Speaking of which taboo subject, I came across this wonderful website that's all about sex for older people. Now there's something that's rare to hear or read about, fitting into the myth that it's a non-existent activity in the over 60s. HERE it is, run by a very open woman called Joan Price (only in America!)

I've strayed far away from the meme theme, haven't I, and somehow got on to sex. Well, go take a look at Joan's site for more information.


Darlene said...

You did a great job with the meme and I learned something from it. I have always wondered how the elderly who become disabled are treated in other countries. Of course, most cultures revere their elders and the family takes care of them. It used to be that way when I was a child, but if the elder had no one and no money they ended up in a poor farm, which was the very low end of care.

There is so much to say about this and your meme was a great beginning. (Sorry, sex is not a subject that I can write about since I have been celibate since my husband died. I'm all for it if you are still able to function.) ;-).

LadyLuz said...

Thanks Darlene. Yes, it is an interesting subject. I frequently read about retirement villages in the USA and how residents are requesting more and more sporty activities, obliquely giving the message that the less physically able would not fit in.

I did read of an alternative scheme, both in the USA and UK and will try and find the URL.

I think it was a mixed income and mixed ability community aimed at mutual co-operation and to lessen loneliness.