The Grey Brigade.
by Julie Grenness
(Melbourne, Australia. )
While I sit here, reflecting on my recent past, I shall share my recollections of the Grey Brigade. This little term can describe some of the elderly players on life's stage.
They are, or were, our parents, step-parents, or even one for whom I was a volunteer caregiver. I kept him away from the nursing home he dreaded, for as long as I could.
We retirement age boomer folk have been described as being in this sandwich. We are in our golden years, may have our own health, family, or relationships. But we volunteer or inevitably look after our ageing seniors.
Most of the Grey Brigade are now octogenarians or older. If we decide to look after them in their own homes or ours, there need to be routines.
We can guide the Grey Brigade in what to expect from the boomers. We can seek support staff and government funding from packages or respite care.
My routine for my late mother was to phone her once per day, fetch any supplies from the chemist or supermarket, and call in on a regular basis, with treats. If necessary, I used to take her to medical appointments.
My Mum had an at home care package. (Very expensive). It was for geriatric support and staff, for convenience meals and housework. Her local GP prescribed oxygen, so the visiting nurses supervised that.
On a regular basis, my late mother and stepfather needed the local hospital system. My mother was a retired nurse. Sometimes her behavior management and verbal aggression was not the best. This was especially in relation to that sensitive subject of incontinence.
So, her visitor now sitting here had to make lots of excuses, before I could liberate her like a Grey Brigade freedom day. Home to her own bed and a nice hot cup of tea.
At the same time, I was balancing my own mild physical disability and chronic fatigue, and being a free caregiver, right until the end. I managed to keep smiling, by establishing a pleasant, regular routine. The geriatric always knew what to expect. Breakfast, cup of tea, meds.
Nice and peaceful strategies are needed for the Grey Brigade. You might say that his verbs flew some days when there was male menstruation, but job done, weak grin.
The Grey Brigade caregivers do need an emergency strategy, in case of collapse, or breathing disorders. I always kept a current note of his meds, all typed up for any urgent paramedic, or hospital jaunt. The pharmacists are very obliging, and can sort the medications into days and times.
They even home deliver, if carers need to be at home to monitor the Grey Brigade.
Caregivers of the Grey Brigade are human, with emotions and feet of clay.
Self-care is vital for caregivers. From patience, tolerance blooms. This can happen to anyone in the golden age, our sandwich years.
Look for sunbeams and keep on smiling!