We can all help the elderly abandoned to horrible solitude

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From: Ruthven Urquhart, High Hunsley, Cottingham.

NOW that the subject of care homes is under the spotlight (thanks to the recent coverage by all forms of the media), I believe this controversial matter should continue to be allowed as much publicity as possible by those of us directly or indirectly involved.

We will all become old one day. Age is not just a number on a specific date; it’s the absence of youth, choice, conviviality and eventually life itself.

I feel very strongly that we can, and should, do more to help the aged as a society. Wherever we live, there are sure to be several private or state care homes in the area and with some, certainly not all, there is very little provision for any type of entertainment, and the introduction of some variety would improve the lonely lives of the elderly residents.

Can I appeal, therefore, to anyone with an hour or two to spare each week to consider offering whatever talents they may possess and assist with some sort of contribution? Quizzes, sing-songs, games or even poetry readings will surely enrich the lives of many so short of having any interaction.

My personal experience of various regular home visits over the last few years has demonstrated to me how much many seem to be boosted and uplifted by some such additions to their bored, detached and isolated existences.

Thus, we must not allow this section of society to be consigned to a nether world, simply a waiting room where they are almost out of mind and virtually out of sight. We must never let them feel they have outstayed their welcome.

Ageing is so frightening as we tend to severely neglect the old, possibly because we are strangely in awe of them. We sometimes ignore or abandon them and leave them to their horrible solitude because we cannot face the inevitable truth that someday someone will banish us.

A big part of loving is listening and during my visits I have often felt compelled to pause, and try and lend an ear to whatever subject on which any resident especially wishes to speak or reminisce.

I have so much respect and admiration for all the carers I’ve encountered. Many, however, have not received much training with senior dementia cases. I admit to sometimes feeling a shade guilty, for after having spent an afternoon in the company of care home residents I am left much better entertained than they! If just one person who reads this letter and complies accordingly with my request, at least I shall feel that I have achieved some reward.