By Debbie le Quesne

Making friends and building connections with the elderly

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It’s Friday and the weekend beckons. I always find the days immediately after Bank Holidays a little odd as I struggle to get back into the rhythm of work after three days off.

I posted a piece a couple of days ago about new approaches to dealing with isolation issues with the elderly and I confess to thinking the problem had the potential to get worse, rather than better as financial restraints grip our economy.

Thoughts of loneliness in old age, the elderly whom I know personally facing that very same problem and what we could all do to make things a little better had refused to leave my head.

I desperately wanted some cheery antidote to ease me into the weekend break and help re-establish ‘normality’, whatever that is in the West Midlands Care Association world. Then, unexpectedly, I stumble on this . . .

In a casual trawl of the social care headlines I find that tea parties, organised by younger people for older ‘friends’, are popping up under the radar.

At 22 Bobby has a brilliant social life with his partner Matt in west London, but he makes no bones about the fact that he “can’t stand anyone between the ages of 16 and 55,” says The Guardian on line.

With their housemate Lucy, they started giving tea parties for Contact the Elderly in their Hounslow flat in 2011 as a new year’s resolution.

They host one every month on a Sunday, which is a particularly lonely day of the week for its members who are all over 75 and live with little or no social support.

The article says that Bobby wants to protect his older friends from the isolation he likens to “a form of torture for prisoners of war” but he deeply values their conversations too.

Love it!

“Older people have such great stories to tell and so much life experience to pass on. They’re just so funny,” he is quoted as saying.

Helping older people earn money from this wisdom and experience is what drives Rich Brown, the 30-year-old commercial director of another London-based business, The Amazings.

“What we found was that there were lots of people aged 50-plus who, rather than we provide services to them, were able to provide services themselves. The idea was to turn that amazing wisdom into something that will pay that person money,” he says in the newspaper’s piece.

This is creative genius.

In a diverse, modern society, pressured by increasing workloads for the employed and social dislocation for many unemployed, it’s easy to lose sight of ‘external’ needs. When they do come into focus, however, the big question is ‘where do we go from here?’

How can we galvanise that moment of sudden awareness and create action?

How too, can we build societies where it is entirely normal for young and old to live and learn together?

Honestly, I haven’t a clue. But I’m encouraged by my new knowledge that Bobby, Matt and Lucy, along with The Amazings, have found an extraordinary way to help that could never have been anticipated.

Enjoy the weekend.

Written by debbielq

August 31, 2012 at 8:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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