Chapter sixteen : Aldinga Life Care
So from 1998 through to 2006 it was wall to wall quiz nights, but unfortunately not everything was running smoothly. Life has a funny way with it sometimes. In January 2003 my partner, Mos, suddenly, right out of the blue, had a seizure, which led us both down a path that was completely unexpected. Over the next three years, my poor darling had over 100 of these horrible attacks, and all put down to oestrogen induced 'menopausal seizures'...
Life became very difficult for us at that time as we struggled to present the quiz nights. I had stopped spruiking in 2004 so I could be around if needed, and during this period if a quiz night came to the end of it's run, I asked the agency not to put me in another. Mos had her last seizure in Dec 2005 so things were definitely starting to look up. Halfway into 2006 we are now six months down the track and no problems at all, so for the first time since 2003 we had six whole months of no seizures, wonderful.
By 2006 I was down to two quizzes each week both at Shenannigans, a popular pub here in Adelaide. We had been there a long time, over three years on both Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons. I finished at the pub in July 2006. Even though Mos hadn't had a problem since Dec 2005, I was still living in this permanent state of anxiety, not knowing if there's going to be another one, any tick of the clock. So now just in case I'm needed, I would be around all the time.
Now a different problem emerged, when there's no money coming in, you soon go through your savings, and ours began to run out early in 2007. This prompted me to sign on at the local unemployment office and, at this stage, I was very relieved to discover that as I was over the age of 60, I could if I chose to, elect to do some sort of volunteer work for 30 hours per fortnight and if I did that, I wouldn't have to go through the process of having to find a job.
I didn't want a job, I didn't want to leave Mos on her own and I didn't like being too far away from her at all. I discovered the perfect solution!! Right at the bottom of the street where we live is a nursing home with over 80 residents.
It's called Aldinga Life Care, and I was able to do my 30 hours a fortnight there, for about two and a half years, until I turned 65 in May 2009. I could be home in just a few minutes if anything happened to Mos.
You know it's funny and I'm embarrassed to say it, but I would have passed the nursing home hundreds of times before and never really knew it was there...
I would like to point out that Mos is fine. It's now January 2015 and ten years since her last episode way back in 2005.
I don't have those constant feelings of anxiety around me any more.
It's funny how things work out isn't it. Because of all this I was introduced to volunteering and, in turn, nursing homes which gave me another fascinating perspective on life. I really enjoyed my time at Aldinga Life Care and I learned a lot about older people. They like a good laugh and they like to feel safe, and with my entertaining experience and being an inclusive type of performer, it worked out perfectly for everyone.
Just Clowning around
We played skittles on Mondays we used to have about twenty residents playing.
I called Bingo on Tuesdays and built that from only three players to over twenty players in just a few weeks.
Then on Wednesdays I got together a singing group.
I was also fortunate to go on lots of coach trips to local beauty spots like
or a bit of whale watching down on the south coast at Victor Harbor.
I also met the Pryers when we went to see their show, but more about them later.
In early December 2007 the group of singers I got together from Aldinga Beach Court had their first public performance. They performed at our Xmas Show and did four numbers:
I got a Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts,
Medley: Side by Side, Bye Bye Blackbird, Heart Of My Heart, Side By Side
Que Sera Sera
I'm Getting Married In The Morning.
It was fabulous they did really well and enjoyed the applause, I'm proud to introduce you to the 'DAGS'...
Des'Aldinga Garden Singers
Ethel Gladwys Irene Hilda Max
This pic was taken in 2007 and sadly both Ethel and Max have both passed on since and Gladwys has moved to a different nursing home.
Des' Aldinga Garden Singers also performed two songs at this year's Carols for Xmas.
Mary's Boy Child and Away in a Manger
Once again they were received very well.
Well done to you All !!
One of the residents was a lady called Mabs Somerfield, who has now passed on, after reaching the age of 105. I remember driving her to her bank one day, it was about a 15/20 minute car ride. I asked her how far back in her head could she go, she thought for a moment or two then proceeded to tell me about the dress that her mum had made for her on her 10th birthday. She then described their classroom, and teacher and told me of the games she used to play. She was going back 95 years!!
Mabs was an avid sports fan and had been all her life. In fact this lovely lady won the weekly Footy tips competition more often than anyone else. She simply knew her stuff! I used to talk cricket with her, and do you know, she used to go and watch Sir Donald Bradman, our world class cricketer. That's gold folks, pure gold. I have never known, nor spoken to, anyone over the age of 100 before. What an absolute priviledge. For her 104th birthday she went up in the Channel Ten helicopter with Jane Reilly a local weather presenter.
Mabs was a good joke teller too. Now that's a special skill, and she had it in spades. Wonderful lady I'm glad I met her.
I 'retired' in May 2009, and a few months later was asked back to do the singing again. I started back in Jan 2010 so at the time of writing this, in June 2011, we are up to about week 78!!
We switched the venue of the singing to the main hall in January 2010, so hopefully we could accomodate more residents. The old room we used to do the singing in only held about a dozen, and if wheelchairs were involved it could be a bit squeezy. The change of venue also meant that they had to go much further to get to the hall, but it does not seem to have dulled their enthusiasm. There are anything up to 35-40 residents turning up every Friday afternoon for an hours worth of singing. I kid you not you can visibly see and feel their spirits rising. It's wonderful. They love it. I love it!!
I've now been involved with the nursing home coming up to five years, and I'm quite sure that I have made a small difference to quite a few of the residents.
You can too, so I urge you to volunteer. There are nursing homes all over the place, they all need help, and if you are able to run some activities, even better.
As at Feb 2012 I decided to take a break from Aldinga Life Care
A bit of 'Me ' time is called for, I think.
To Be Continued ....................
The Radio Riverview Project
Earlier this year 2013 I was asked to submit songs for two CDs for the Radio Riverview.
It's a new initiative for people with Alzheimers and their carers
Disc 1 is for the 60s and Disc 2 for the 70s
The idea is that carers can play these CDs in order to help with memories
Each Cd is presented like a radio program, with news, sport and music from that era
It's a winner and is certainly helping a lot of people
Mos and I at the Radio Riverview launch
Videos from Aldinga Life care No 1
I'm Leaning On The Lampost
I've Got a Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts
Get Me To The Church On Time
Oh What Beautiful Morning
Videos from Aldinga Life Care No 2
Hallejula I Love Her So
Ferry 'Cross The Mersey
Videos from Aldinga Life Care No 3
Have I Told You Lately
Save The Last Dance For Me
Videos from Aldinga Life Care No4
Chattanooga Choo Choo
Little White Bull