Today is international day of older people, an annual celebration since 1991 that celebrates the lives of older people and highlighters their importance and contributions to society. So I thought I would use this opportunity to talk about the things that I have realised while working with older people.
I am a support worker at a care company in my home town. I assist the elderly with dressing, preparing meals and help with general independent living within their own homes. I only started this job because I was unemployed and needed a job, however once I stated I found that I really enjoyed it.
There are many things that I have learnt while in this job and many of my preconception about the elderly have been proved wrong.
The main thing that I have realised is that age is just a number. Before I started I thought that this job would have me meeting people who are unable to do much for themselves, however I have realised that many of the people I visit are capable of independent living just need a little assistance with some tasks.
Many of the elderly people I visit are also very interesting people to talk to. They have lived through different decades and I love listening to their stories about the past. When there is a major event such as remembrance day, many of my clients will talk about where they where and what they where doing. It is amazing to hear these stories first hand.
Recently me and my mum popped into the travel agents to enquire about something in regards to her upcoming holiday to Turkey, the travel agent pulled up the booking and told us there where 2 adults on the booking. We queried this as there was meant to be 3 adults going, when she looked further into the booking she realised that a family friend that is going has now been classed as an OAP. We all found this hilarious as although this friend has recently had a significant birthday, she is not what I would consider as 'old'. On this holiday they will be relaxing on the beach, enjoying the sun and drinking alcohol. Its not the kind of holiday you would think of as an OAPs holiday. This just shows that although a computer system had decided she is an OAP, she is still enjoying life and she is not 'old'.
Overall I believe that my views of the elderly have completely changed over the last few years and if more people spent just a little time with older people they may also find that old in age doesn't necessarily mean old in personality.