Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Presents for Elderly Bedridden Ladies

I have noticed that people are not always enthusiastic about visiting elderly friends. Actually, the elderly who are bedridden need friendship more than ever. Many of their acquaintances have passed on and making new friends is almost impossible.

It is always a celebration here when visitors come to call.

My old nurse came to see Bea today. Charlotte lives in Connecticut and took care of me when we summered on Cape Cod in the late 40s. Unfortunately, the visit doesn’t last long …

“Hello, Mrs. Grabbe,” Charlotte says, inching her way towards the head of the bed. “I’m so glad to see you!”

“Why, hello, Charlotte. How nice of you to pay me a visit!”

We chat about past visits and memories for a minute or two. Then Bea closes her eyes and announces, “I need to sleep now.”

The tone of her voice makes it sound as if she were truly exhausted, near death even. This is her method of disposing of visitors. Bea doesn’t really want to sleep. She just doesn’t feel like talking to strangers and does not recognize Charlotte.

One way to break the ice is to arrive with a present that can then be discussed while the bedridden person sorts through memories and summons up those involving the visitor.

It is a challenge to find presents for elderly bedridden ladies. Fragrant flowers are always well received, but they die, an unwelcome reminder of mortality.

Here are a few suggestions of long-lasting gifts which will keep the souvenir of the visit fresh for weeks to come.

Lavender lotion – Elderly skin needs lubrication on a regular basis. Lavender is soothing and helps the bedridden person to relax.

Fleece bed jacket, throw, or a shawl – The elderly feel cold. Fleece is soft, warm, and always welcome.

New nightie – It should have long sleeves, be short and easy to launder.

An enlargement of your photo in a frame – This is a good choice, providing your elderly friend can still see, which is sometimes no longer the case.

Candy – The Vermont Country Store has oldtime favorites, including several types of licorice and Necco wafers. Giving the old taste buds a jolt with a blast from the past will sometimes produce memories long forgotten.

CD – A favorite big-band tune can bring a smile to the face of an elderly person. Bea has really enjoyed her France Sinatra CD.

High tech:

A heat-pack pillow that goes in the microwave – Ideal for arthritic pain. There are a number on the market.

A wedge pillow – An extra nice wedge always comes in handy for keeping to one side or the other.

Of course, the elderly person will also receive the gift of the visit itself. Life tends to be monotonous when one is bedridden. The elderly need to feel they have not been forgotten. And, as the Eagles once sang, “Seeing old friends is good for the soul …”


Blogger joared said...

This is great, all these ideas of gifts for the elderly bedridden patient. They are all so very appropriate, too.

Yes, it would be nice if more people made an effort to visit others like your Mom. I think there is sometimes an attitude of, "Oh well, she doesn't recognize me anyway" or ... "She won't remember after I'm out of sight." I have to wonder, though, if those precious few moments of recognition don't have some deeper significance.

What you are writing is really meaningful for so many non-caregivers as well as caregivers. We should all remember at any age, if we're not caregivers now, we may be sooner than we think. Caregiving isn't always limited to the elderly, though I realize the focus of your blog is there.

8:53 PM  

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