Ideas of what I can do for an elderly lady(40 Posts)
I volunteer with my dog, and we go to visit people. Think Pets as Therapy, but this is at someone's home, one on one.
A lady I currently see is unable to walk. She has carers five times a day who help to get her up and get her meals for her etc. From what I understand, she goes to bed whenever the last carer of the day turns up, so sometimes it can be quite early eg. 6pm. She is unable to move around the house by herself.
She's so lovely. We have chatted about families and holidays, childhoods, our pets, current affairs. She struggles with her hands and is unable to knit anymore, and she also has very bad cataracts, so is unable to read. I had no idea her eyesight was so bad until today. She has a washing line outside the living room window with bird feeders on and likes to watch the birds, but can't see them well. She can't really see the TV either. She doesn't have any friends or family locally, and I gather people like me are her only visitors besides the carers.
Whenever I ask if there is anything I can get her she says she is OK, doesn't want a drink as it means she will need the loo, for example. When I get there I put the leftovers from her lunch out for the birds to encourage them to come into view for her, and make sure she is warm enough when I am there and before I go.
Can anyone think of some ideas of things I can chat to her about, or something we could do together?
Audio books might be fun - you could listen to them together or order her favourites from the library for her to listen to in the evenings? So glad she has you for company xx
My grandda was blind in his later years. We had a lot of help from blind veterans society (you don’t need to be a veteran). He got a dab radio with really easy buttons to listen to classic fm, and a proper magnifying glass that would also read out his post/letters
I got my dad an Alexa to make it easier for him to have the radio or music on.
Could you bake a cake together? If she sat down with a whisk and bowl and you measured the ingredients out so she could mix it up maybe.
Or can you look into getting a wheelchair that you could take her out in.
You sound lovely, thank you for caring about this lady
Is she due to get cataracts done? Maybe a bird feeder you can stick on a window would be more visible. Agree audiobooks, radio/alexa, kindle which can do text to speech. Freeview tvs can access radio. Could you help organise things so she can find them easily?
There are bird feeders that suction onto the windows that would bring the birds a little closer. Thank you for caring about her x
I was also going to ask whether there is any medical reason why this lady can't have a cataract operation, or whether it's just that no one has thought to refer her.
I am younger, but registered blind and have other disabilities, so using my hands can be quite a task… I would definitely recommend audiobooks, or even a radio… There are some stations that are great because they offer a mix of everything… I’m not that great at technology, but there are some radio stations for visually impaired that will read all kinds of things, from different newspapers, to audiobooks, some even have cooking shows…
I really like sensory things, so different material… I don’t have much hand strength, but I really enjoy the feel of different things like clay or even play dough and stencil type things so I can create things… or anything with a different sent… Plug-in candles, I’ve never tried these, but it’s on my list. Since lighting a lighter is so difficult for me, and I’ve never tried matches, candles are quite challenging… And for somebody who has lost her sight later, and also has problems with their hands… I wouldn’t go for those…
I was going to suggest audio books too.
Make sure she has music/a radio. You could listen to things together, or just have it on as background music whilst you chat. She could maybe turn the radio on by herself when you aren't there.
Could she dictate letters for you to write to her friends/family? I would hope they might reply!
Would she like you to do her nails? Might help her feel "better" about herself.
Take a selection of wild and wacky flavours of something like jelly beans, and see if she can guess the flavour. We used to have this, as well as crisp flavours, at our PTA quiz.
My mum likes to reminisce about her childhood, and growing up during the war. Particularly about family members/neighbours from that time, who I have never met! A lot of older ladies I know like to talk about the Royal Family.
Would she appreciate an afternoon tea? Small, dainty sandwiches, scones with cream and jam and little cakes? Might be a nice treat.
Singing a few songs together might be nice.
By the way, there are lots of options now for audio described films. I’m not sure if she likes that type of thing… Netflix has plenty of audio description on the films. Not sure if the library might have an a thing with audio description as well, but it’s great if you can’t see. Even my mom enjoys it, because sometimes when the movie has a lot of dark scenes, you know what’s going on.
Just had another thought, could you help her research her family tree? My MIL and another older friend are obsessed with that!
Ask at your local public library, if such a thing still exits, about services for housebound readers.
They may be able to help with reading aids, like special magnifiers, and will almost certainly be able to provide free audio books.
There is a charity, now called ReEngage [used to be 'Contact the Elderly', much more sense, why do they re-brand like this??] which organises monthly tea-parties for lonely older people.
The local branch of Age UK may well be able to help, too.
Thank you for doing this. I have been a tea-party host with CtE/ReEngage for years now and all of my guests are a delight. It's always an honour to have them visit.
Thanks so much everyone, some great ideas! So glad I asked. I am writing a list and will work my way through
The optician said they could refer her for cataract surgery. She has been in hospital a few times before and I think was worried about getting stuck there. I explained that it is done as a daycase, and she mentioned being alone and not having the courage. And then transport. I work at the local hospital so was able to give her some info. Sadly I know our waiting list is approx a year, or was when I last checked
I am conscious that whilst I want to help her, I don't want to impose my views or make her feel forced into anything. I might bring her cataracts up again next week and see what she says. Even if she was referred, she could change her mind at a later date.
A little manicure session and/or nail polish is lovely - hand massage is a soothing personal touch and it's somehow easy to chat away when you're not being directly looked at.
Plant some indoor bulbs together.
Not all appropriate for her but things I've done as a carer
Hand mask (loads on amazon)
Chatting about perfumes/smells - this led to me popping some perfume and talc on
Videos on phone so easier to see - one woman loved watching head cams of people riding horses as she liked the sound
Chatting about places and she would ask me to describe them (like the Trafford centre)
Sleep or room spray or reed diffuser
Podcast on topic she is interested in. I dont know how often you visit but if you set up a couple each time you left that would be great.
Sounds like she is cognitively ok so you can discuss the options with her. If she could manage setting up an Alexa would open up options for her
My mum is blind with macular degeneration and what she loves is people spending time talking to her and asking about her life and where she grew up. She likes going out for tea and cake and what I do is describe everything to her so she has it mapped in her head
Some great ideas here, I just wanted to say thank you for being so lovely OP.
Re the potential operation - could you offer to take her (when the appointment comes up) and wait with her and bring her home?
That might help ease her concerns.
She might be able to afford it privately and get more of a handhold eg stay over night.
Do you think that is something she could afford/be interested in.
I imagine she just wants your company, you are doing a wonderful thing.
Does she follow the soaps/the archers etc? You could watch together in catch up and help explain what's going on, or discuss it afterwards?
Another vote for the housebound library service, if it is still going where you are. The audiobooks are great and usually come with a visit and chat.
Specsavers offer a service where they will visit people at home and carry out eyetests and advise on lighting and aids and so on.
I agree with ALL the previous suggestion, many of which I was going to suggest too!
Even just your company would likely be such a lovely thing in her life, that any extra time you spend would be very much appreciated.
Listening to 'old time' songs and finding out what songs she likes listening too.
Bring some colourful, bright flowers and ask her to help you arrange them in a vase. Just be mindful of the scents though. I personally find hyacinths overpower after a few hours, and lillies not only stain, but the smell reminds be distinctly of funerals!
If she doesnt have any eating disorders requiring specific carers, could you take a home-cooked Sunday roast type meal to her and eat yours with her?
My nan (aged 99 and also with dreadful cataracts)) loves hearing about any Royal gossip! I sometimes by a gossip type magazine and read out what is going on in their lives- she loves it.
Does she have any family you know of? I like the idea of writing to them on her behalf, but equally might be disappointing if no-one replies.
I should add that I too think its a lovely idea OP. Our local area offer a Sunday roast service for older locals to come over for a meal, which I was very eager to sign up for. Unfortunately though, we are on the 1st floor, and the criteria is to either have a lift or be on the ground floor, so I'm looking for ways to help in my area too.
Can you help her with the toilet or is that for the carers? I think it's awful that she doesn't want to drink a cup of tea with you in case she needs the loo.
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