We’re all going to get old, let’s face it. And I for one find it absolutely terrifying. From the superficial; I don’t want wrinkles, to the more serious; how will I afford a care home?
For a while now I’ve been volunteering with a charity called Contact the Elderly, where a group of us meet up once a month, both young and old, usually in someone’s home, eat homemade cake and drink gallons of tea and just chat. No iPhones, no laptops, no TV (unless it’s Wimbledon time); just good old fashioned chit chat.
There are volunteer drivers, like myself, who are assigned a local elderly person and we pick them up and drop them off afterwards. Mine is Liz, who regales me with stories of when she danced on the stage of many a West End theatre. While I drive, we listen to to music hall songs and sing along.
I’m not telling you this to be holier than thou, I’m just trying to spread the word, as for a long time I wanted to somehow help elderly people but didn’t quite know how.
It’s a subject close to my heart. My dear old Granny, who died at a whopping 94 years of age, suffered terribly from dementia towards the end. However, before that, when my Grandad died, having been married for 69 years she lost her purpose – and her best friend. My Mum, like many children do, saw her every day to ensure she was never lonely and to reassure her that the notion of someone breaking in to her house to steal her paperweight and replace it with a cheaper version, was of course nonsense. If my Mum knew that for at least one day a month, she didn’t have to make that hour long return trip, that someone else was keeping her fed and watered and entertained, it would have been a huge weight off her mind. After all, this is something that affects the whole family.
That’s why Contact the Elderly, and many other charities like it, are so great at ensuring elderly people aren’t forgotten. For those with families it offers some respite for the ones around them, for those without, it’s a vital lifeline to the outside world. Sometimes it’s as little as popping round for a cuppa, or knocking on the door to say hello, or inviting someone round for a Sunday lunch; to us it’s nothing, but to some elderly people, it’s everything.
If you read this blog, you probably love food; be it cooking it or stuffing your face with it. Worldwide, food can be the most sociable experience. It’s so easy to get caught up in the humdrum of modern life, let’s not forget the power we have, as food lovers, to share and interact.