Jeanne Ellin: a chair to rest in, a peach tray to count in

Banner with Jeanne Ellin's quoteDecided it was time to make some admissions. I need to look at aids and adaptations to extend my independent life.

elderly lady with 2 grandchildrenFortunately there is a local charity which offers a free assessment so I made an appointment. The next step was planning. It would be two hours plus in the afternoon, so quiet days before and after and a good supply of home-made frozen meals. Dismayed to find my reliable taxi firm vanished from phone email and landline. Really anxious as I could rely on them to be prompt and considerate. Booked a new firm with hundreds of drivers.

Chose trousers and loose top for ease of measurement as a local chair-building firm will be attending with a trial chair. So well organised, glad to use a local firm too.

Arrived in good time and was offered a cup of tea while I waited. Had to decline due to lactose intolerance, so opted for iced water. They had run out of plastic cups so had my lovely chilled water from a wine glass. Wonder how much use it gets when they have plastic cups in stock.

The Occupational Therapist is gentle and friendly and the chair maker is jovial, very patient in making adjustments and explaining the process. The sides, back width and height are all adjusted, not unlike an eye test. He even advised on cat safety.

I was very taken with the fully recline function for mini-rests. They asked why I did not return to bed for these. I explained that it can take 20 to 40 minutes to rebalance when getting up from a fully laid down position because of vertigo. The Occupational Therapist said that was the sort of detail a funder would need to know. A funder, as if I was a building in need of conservation.

The chair maker will send me an itemised estimate so I can choose my options. I asked for massage and heating functions as alternate pain relief. There will be a choice of fabric, too. I caught a glimpse of a sky- bright brocade, wonder if it will be affordable?

When I am ready and have chosen, they will deliver and lend me the chair free for a weekend to test-sit. I explained that it might take me some time to gather the funds but that did not seem to be a problem. The Occupational Therapist said she would write me a detailed report that I could use if I was applying for a charitable grant and even offered to send me the details of possible sources of help.

After the chair maker has gone, taking his adjustable test chair with him, we discuss my other needs and I find, to my dismay, that I score as high risk of skin damage.

We looked at various kitchen related items. There were some really useful items, small and larger, that will make life easier. I am being prescribed a trolley to move drinks and food safely. It will be free and delivered to my home. How lucky I am to be in the range of such a service.

Other items I will get as I can but the advice was priceless. This visit did more than I’d hoped.

While I was waiting for my taxi home I read a catalogue of other helpful items they could obtain, including a bedside pole. Sadly not for dancing. But perhaps a little twirl and a pose or two?

I got chatting to the receptionist. He was talking very engagingly about the work and how they were trying to let people know what they do –  making peoples home suitable and supportive for their disabilities.

I suggested they have a small display dolls’ house showing what they could do in an accessible way. He loved the idea and wanted to take it further. I offered my help with the dolls part of the project. As he was chatting to the chief executive just before he spoke to me I am hopeful.

I got home to find the taxi firm had called my number a few moments before. So I rang and asked why. They said that since I did not have a mobile and they had wanted to let me know they were ready to pick me up outside the assessment centre they had rung my home!

Peach trays with the grandchildren

elderly people in homeWent to see my twin grandsons with a little home-made activity. A pair of peach trays, the ones that hold four peaches, and a set of coloured sticky dots.

I placed one dot in the centre of each cup; red, blue, yellow and green. Then I suggested that they find something to put in each cup of a matching colour. This went well and segued, boy led, into a counting game.

B boy found a number of yellow and green plastic balls and lined them up to count. One, two, three, four, five green balls; one, two, three, four yellow.

He has learnt to count to ten and he kept trying to get past nine, then starting again. His brother, Q boy, solved the problem. He brought over a tenth ball.

”Yellow pompom,” he said. So the count was completed. Again and again and again.

Preparing for winter

There have been a number of issues with services and support in our complex. Meetings did not seem to progress matters. I suggested we contact media and perhaps our MP. My fellow residents were hesitant so I suggested as a compromise that we mention that if no change was forthcoming we would. This was minuted. This week we were told that our next meeting will include the presence of a national manager. So we shall see.

Today is the meeting. As advised in the Henpicked article, I chose my ‘costume’ very carefully. A black linen long skirt, heavy weight with a slit topped with a large pearl button and my lovely zipped pleather bomber jacket that is printed with multi-coloured flowers. Debated wearing my studded Doc Martin’s; decided not as it is so hot. Plain black rope-soled open-sided leather shoes instead. Oh, and red lipstick. Battle ready.

A very successful meeting at least as far as promises go. We shall see. News on the new heaters. One of the residents was better informed than the staff and manager, no surprises. It seems that it is all about to happen. Oh, warm for winter, I hope. I asked for notice and help in moving my furniture and the manager seemed to say this would happen.

Jeanne Ellin

About Jeanne Ellin

I am a poet working at living a creative life in a one room flat, companioned by a menagerie of chronic health problems. I began this series of posts after being inspired by two women younger than myself, who, fearful of their imagined old age spent in ill health and poverty, committed suicide. I explore every year as a bonus of adventures, with moments of discomfort or fear, but with unexpected treasure to be found - helped by a sense of the ridiculous, a world perspective and creativity.