Lifelong Learning Programme

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Personal Experience

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I know better what is good for you.

Kristína Vančová
Language: English
Country: Slovakia
Typology: health care professionals
A couple of seniors has been living together in one household for over 30 years. They do not have children. She handles the household and the house chores with a willfulness of a pit-bull despite her delicate body construction, pacemaker and developed asthma at the age of 88. He walks very difficultly only with an aid of a cane. He needs support with the morning hygiene, dressing up and self service activities. They are both oriented and can organize their ordinary day. Pavol is 89 years old and retired. His whole life he was working in his own fabric store. The store and everything related to it was his passion. His partner Helena worked for many years as his employee so their mutual world was both at work and at home. Pavol has difficulty with walking after a sudden brain stroke and mild difficulty swallowing and talking. His movement is complicated by a progressing morbus Parkinson. He has a permanent catheter because of a chronic urinary tract disease. However, mentally he is quite fit, as well as Helena. This creates tension between the partners because the current situation allows Helena to choose what they will eat, what should Pavol wear, in what weather he can go for his favorite daily walk around the neighborhood etc. He is not able to do it without her help and there is a possible risk of losing his balance. The nurse comes into the house daily in the morning for one hour and 45 minutes. She helps Pavol to get up from bed, wash himself, get dressed and works out simple exercises to keep his mobility and train his balance. Pavol handles all what he can by himself. He decides what the nurse will help him with. When the weather allows it they go for an hour long walk around the neighborhood during which Pavol likes to train walking up and down the stairs. During the whole time of care taking they discuss topics Pavol is interested in. According to what is new, Pavol is still interested in textile exhibition forums and new machines. He says if he had more energy, he would very much like to stand in his shop the whole day again. Sometimes he feels sorry that he was never brave enough to have children. During and after the war Pavol experienced a lot. He has old frostbites on his ears. The time period was very hard and he feared he will not be able to feed his family. And so the time passed and he has no children. He misses also the mountains which he liked to hike and so he enjoys, at least during his walks, to look at the surrounding hills even though they are small compared with the high mountains which he loves. The nurse is interested in Pavol’s mental world. She lets him explain to her things that are natural to Pavol and she does not understand them. They experience equal and funny discussions. They established a strange sense of humor between them, for example, when the nurse sees that Pavol has no more strength to walk and talk at the same time, she asks him politely if they could take a break because of her. Otherwise he, the experienced mountain man will tire her so much she will faint. Pavol is entertained, they sit down and he comments on the nurse’s physical condition, that she should do something about it, and they both laugh honestly. Thus Pavol rests without the feeling of inferiority. This way there is created a coalition between them. It helps Pavol to maintain his self-respect even though his body quite complicates it for him. From time to time the nurse intervenes the communication of the two seniors and reminds Helena a bit with humor that Pavol is disadvantaged but he can decide and he is able to as well. Thus, she allows Helena to express her worries and tension. She worries she will not be able to take care of Pavol if his condition worsens. That is the reason why she constantly directs him. The nurse assures both that they can always count on more professional support if needed. OBJECTIVES: Reduce the feelings of helplessness and dependency. Help both of the seniors with activities that are too burdensome for them. Reduce ongoing tension which is being created. Give space to the topics that are Pavol’s source and keep him mentally fit. MEANS AND STRATEGY: Provide company, humor and create a channel for expressing the troubling feelings. Express interest and, motivational, guiding and relief providing talks, support with self service activities, coordination and stability training with an aid of simple assisted exercises. CONCLUSIONS: The client needs social contact besides his partner, support in differing what he can do physically by himself and with what he needs to accept a help without becoming helpless and irresponsible. Both of them learn to understand tension coping strategies, that the level of their dependency on each other is rising, as well as the use of professional help. They seek resources for maintaining their self- esteem and well-being in physically changed conditions.

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