Some bloke sang about dolphins making him cry. It’s not Dolphins that make me cry it’s older people. Especially now all my grandparents have died in the last few years, which I’m still incredibly sad about.

Many moons ago as part of my training I worked with older adults and was saddened and enraged by the way they are treated like second class citizens. Treatment choices that may be available to young people just wouldn’t be offered and attitudes of staff member in hospitals to older adults with dementia often had me crying in the journal library where no one went.

So when I finished training, I was drawn to working with children just because I seemed to have more of a skill in that area, but I never forgot the impact that working with older adults had on me. Their gratitude when you went to see them, their politeness, their warmth and their frailty on some occasions. Doing this type of work left a indelible mark on me.

As some of you who follow me on twitter will know, the recent Age UK ads with Sir Ian McKellen on never fail to make me bawl it. He’s speaking in the voice of a lonely older lady who can’t do much because of her arthritis. It moved me so much that today I picked up the phone and offered to volunteer for my local Age UK. There’s a massive range of volunteering opportunities http://www.ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer/volunteer-in-your-community/ from helping out in a local day centre doing things like serving meals, giving manicures (a particular talent of mine)to teaching older adults how to use IT, which can be a real life line, to being a befriender and visiting lonely people who can’t get out much to collecting or working in charity shops. I prefer to work at the ‘front line’ face to face with the people I want to help.

Please visit the website and think about helping older adults. Think about how you’d like your parents (and eventually YOU) to be treated when you get older. These people have given so much to our country and suffer from going hungry in hospital, being dehydrated in care homes, given not very nice treatment in state carehomes and sometimes treated with a lack of dignity.

I know this is a bit of a depature from my usual brand of nonsense, but this is something that’s really close to my heart.

A special mention goes to shadowsans on Twitter who has just now made some enquiries to volunteer. What a good man.

We can all really make a difference to someone.

One thought on “Volunteering

  1. Oh Dr Angel, I truly admire you (and shadowsans). Truly saintlike, and I do hope it works out for you. In my shop we have about 350 customers a day and well over half of them are pensioners. We have a hardcore posse of maybe sixty or so of the active elderly who are among our regular sit down customers and it’s a real eye opener and a big pleasure to be part of their lives. You tend to hear the same stories over again and you get to know an awful lot about their families and histories, and you quickly become immersed in it all. Love them. Even the deaf ones who you converse with at megadecibel volume and the forgetful ones who you have to remind what their favourite drink etc is. Bless you.

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