A friend of ours lives in a communal home made up of individual flats with shared living spaces, like the tv lounge, the activity room and other places where people living on their own can be together.
Mrs P visits the said friend every Friday and the thing that strikes you is how unfriendly a place it can be, at least in the way that the residents can be downright nasty and petty with each other.
I mentioned the activity room which among other things has a sewing machine, a joint purchase by the residents, which one of them has decided it is her personal property so she keeps it locked away. Then there is the man who has claimed a section of the road outside as his parking space and should anyone be so presumptuous to park there, he pulls his car in tight behind to make it very difficult for the trespasser to extricate their car.
Lots of other pettiness goes on but you get my point. Older people living together can regress to school playground silliness at a time when you’d think they would know better. But it reached a new low last week.
A recent resident is a man in the early to mid-stage of Alzheimer’s. He usually spends his days sitting near the door, buzzing people in and saying hello. His first question invariably is: ‘Am I all right today?’ and it’s important to answer in the positive or he gets very upset.
It can be difficult for his neighbours I’ll admit. He sometimes gets confused at night and knocks on the inside of his door, unsure whether he’s trying to get in or out. But he is mostly harmless which makes you wonder how the others can be so heartless.
Like other such communities, there are organised outings and there is a list by the door where you can pencil yourself in to join. But every time he does someone unknown crosses it off again. Because he has Alzheimer’s. and he couldn’t possibly be allowed to join in without a carer.
This week, the list went up for the Christmas lunch and the man duly entered his name again. Underneath he asked the question: ‘will someone be my carer?’
You would have thought that one of the other residents would have volunteered, but they didn’t and the only possible excuse I can think of is that being around someone with Alzheimer’s is too real a reminder that they might be next. Anyway, our friend’s daughter was so angry at their inhumanity that she put her name down to act as his carer.
Whatever the reason, I believe all the residents should be made to sit down and watch the video below. I mentioned it in yesterday’s Sunday Round-Up but make no apologies for publicising its message again.