Usually a person’s first interaction with elderly people are with their grandparents. I was at a disadvantage as all my other grandparents died either before I was born or when I was very young. The biggest experience of older people I had was when my Nanny Kelly (that’s my Mother’s Mum) came to live with us when I was only 10, and she would live with us until her she sadly passed away, 9 years later.
Having my Nanny stay with us was a culture shock at first as she was in her early 80’s when she moved over and I was only 10. Of course I enjoyed being around her, especially when we went to visit her for a month each summer in her house in London (which was way bigger than our cottage in the West of Ireland!) but it was different when she came to live with us, as our “normal” lifestyle had to change to work around her. Getting used to having Nanny around 24/7 took some getting used to, especially since my older brother and sister were teenagers (13, and 17 respectively). We were all used to our family of four, and now an extra addition had been introduced to our already cramped living arrangements.
Though it took some getting used to, after a while, we all adjusted, and Nanny Kelly became an essential part of our family unit. With her cheeky sense of humour, complete love of animals and her generous personality, we began to love her even more (though there were days when her cheekiness went a little too far, haha!)
The best part about spending any time with someone who is older, whether it be 5 or 50 years your senior, is that you always learn something. This was especially true about Nanny Kelly, she imparted her vast knowledge about everything from cooking to medicine (mainly home remedies, one of her top tips was using bread soda on midge bites or sunburn, which of course my Mum now also swears by), or her countless tales about neighbours and relatives from years before.
Elderly people are often seen as a drain on our society, even though they have already given so much to the world throughout their lives. They should be celebrated because if it wasn’t for them, none of us would be here. They’ve done their hard work (getting to any age is an accomplishment but especially over 70) and we should be happy to support them just like they did us and other generations.
This is why the UN International Day of Older Persons is such a wonderful idea, celebrating the integral part that elderly people play in all of our lives. Whether that may be my amazing Nanny who loved singing to our dogs (it was so cute) or any other significant elderly person in your life.
Nanny had many medications to take, and only a pillbox was there to help and when I started working in MediStori I knew that this toolkit could’ve been really helpful – not just for her, but for us her family caring for her. My Mum did her best to organise her medications, but there were many times there were accidental mix-ups. Seeing my Mum sometimes struggle with the cocktail of drugs my Nanny needed in the last few years of her life was tough. Mum took her role as Nanny’s carer very seriously, always putting Nanny’s happiness and comfort over her own (as many carers do), and when I told my Mum about the MediStori when I got my job here, she felt a tool like the MediStori could give back the power to the carer or patient, like she was, to help them properly self-manage their health and that it would have been so helpful for our family.
Having Nanny Kelly live with me for such an important stage of my life (basically all of my teenage years), definitely shaped the person I’ve become – which I will always be grateful for. Looking back on the time I had with her, it opens your eyes to the amount older people can still give to each of us, and our society. They are to be cherished – it should be celebrated that we still have this generation of older people still around, to pass on all they learned from their lives, all the knowledge and experience they have accumulated over such fruitful lives.
The UN International Day of Older Persons is on today, the 1st of October 2015 and is a day we should celebrate older people, and what they’ve contributed to our world. Though having a day like this is important, we should try and celebrate all the older people in our lives every day, for all they sacrificed and contributed to make us the people we are today.
Thanks a million for reading,