Saturday, April 27, 2013

Finding a purpose

This week was sliced through with public holidays, and the enticement of an extra-long-weekend, so my Wednesday or Thursday visit to Barry, became a Friday visit. I know it off by rote: leave the house at 6:30am for the 267 bus that departs the Castlecrag shops at 6:51am, arriving at Chatswood railway station at 7:07am. After a 6 minute wait I catch a train via Macquarie University to Hornsby to connect with the 7:56 to Gosford. This misses the 38 bus to Wyoming forcing me into a taxi where I use my 50% disabled voucher and pay $7 out to the Henry Kendall Aged-care facility, arrived a minute or so before 9am. Thhis gives me well-nigh 3 hours with Barry before I walk down to the Maiden's Brush Road shops and catch the 12:36 number 38 bus back to Gosford Station where I unwind the entire journey.

Yesterday was an excellent example of a visit to someone in aged-care. We spent until 10am chatting, weeding, and digging in his 'garden'. He needs to be prompted with everything, and is not able to have a self-propelling thought. There is a lot of cut-through required to get him to do things without being disrespectful and condescending. As we walked through his four-[erson room, it was obvious that two room-mates had departed since Thursday of last week. As the morning progressed, another man was being bedded down into the vacancy. I expect another passing in the next couple of weeks. He was most adamant he did NOT want his hair trimmed, so we took my trolley and toddled off to the activities room.

I had prepared a canvas with a stylised wing of a butterfly for him to pain in bright, clear colours. They have canvases like this all along the corridors, and I feel certain Barry's brain and eye responds well to them. He can 'see' them. If this simple wing works and he manages to complete the task over 3 weeks, I will prepare more for him. The activity ladies helped us set up a table with newspaper, and water for our brushes. He worked, engrossed, for about 30 minutes. Next week, we have been offered the pots of paint from Hospital Art, which I appreciate. At Barry's behest, we sat down and talked through today's copy of the Daily Telegraph. The only word that I found that he could read was 'and'. So we read the pictures instead. They were about ANZAC Day and the death of Jon Mannam and whether peptides were involved. Then Barry showed me how he does his exercises, and down one end of the room, we lunged and stretched together. After a leisurely meander down the 'east wing' we returned to the activity room where a game of Bingo had been set up for 7 women, Robbie and Baz, if we could cajole him into it.

Cathy did well to get him involved, as he was mightily hesitant, not wanting to interrupt the 'chat' of the female participants, not that they chat much, it was just his rationalisation to stay on the side-lines. However, Cathy gave him 10 cards, at least one from each suit, and a swag of milk-bottle caps. Then came the hard yards. He had to 'read' the numbers AND the suits, both of which proved elusive when there were 10 cards still in play. He could manage the reading when he was down to only 5 cards. But, with massive dollops of encouragement, he stayed the course.

For the last 15 minutes we wandered the courtyards literally 'smelling the roses'. We chatted about how everything we did during the morning would go towards helping his brain to remain active. He wants the blood clot to 'dissolve'. I am more realistic than that than that. But I want him to know there are things that he can wander down and 'do'.


diane b said...

Such a difficult task but you have tackled it mightily well as you do everything. Just remembering the bus numbers and train times would agitate me let alone trying to encourage a stroke victim into activities. Bravo Julie!

Kay L. Davies said...

It makes me a little sad to think of Barry coloring between the lines with paint, instead of sketching on his own, Julie, but I know how it is.
These pictures remind me so much of visiting my dad when he was in a care facility. He loved to show off "his" garden where one of the care aides had encouraged him to help with the planting.
By the following summer, he didn't care about the garden at all, didn't want to watch TV, and didn't respond to his favourite music which we had brought in for him.
He was happy, though, when my brother Clint came in with a group of friends and joined them in their barbeshop-quartet arrangements. Nobody worried about a 5-man quartet in there.
In the months my mother was in care, and the years Dad was, I never once regretted flying out to the coast every 6 or 8 weeks to spend a week in the care facility's guest suite. I wouldn't trade those times for anything.