…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menopolysocksicated - The Re-Run

So, you have clicked on the title to be reminded of what's involved when menopolyxinaemia hits in the dress-ups department. Or you have made good use of the menoctionary page…

Ready then for a lovely Sunday tale of International day amongst the aged and demented?

Anyone who has had anything to do with the elderly for more than five minutes in a community home will identify with this… and I suspect most of my readers will.  Throughout my life I have tended towards working with the senior members of society rather than the younger.  Partly driven, I suppose, by having to carry a body that has always been 20-30 years older than it's apparent years and thus understanding the nature of what are normally considered conditions of the aged.  Partly because I simply prefer their company.

Anyway.  The place to which I was attached for the five years prior to leaving for India was a Masonic institution.  The Recreations officer is a tireless and enthusiastic lady who, quite frankly,  has possibly the most thankless task in the place.  Aged care in general (and I think this is probably true globally) is not seen as a glamour position and I hate to say, it but a great many families do that dreadful thing of settle in the oldies, then visit twice a year.  If that.

Not all of course and it was wonderful to see when grandkids and pets came to visit on a regular basis.  The light in the eyes of the visited could illumine the room.

Back to the subject.  Every month, there would be a theme day for getting dolled up in all sorts of silliness - the nurses.  Getting the elders to participate was a battle.  But they loved to see it.  Normally it would be involved with a colour theme or a holiday (Australia Day being the main example) or just straight fantasy - fairy day was always popular.

YAM in Scottish storyteller mode...
Annually we had International day. Given that we had residents and staff with roots from many parts of the world this was a major event; instead of just the midday meal time, it would cover the whole day, starting with different breakfasts, exhibits of culture, talks, videos and, in the afternoon, a show put on by the staff with regional dancing and singing.  Whilst all were covered, there would be one country picked as the focus for that year and the talks and food would focus on that.  Invitations would be sent out and this was one of the occasions we noticed otherwise invisible relos turning up.

Many of the residents still had majority mental capacity, but of course there were a percentage who had various forms and stages of dementia.  Almost always, though, these and other such events triggered their memories and we'd get insights  to their lives which were rewarding, rich and downright raucous in some cases.

Unless assisted, many of the elders were inclined to the senior condition - senopolysocksication.  Back to front dresses and shirts, mismatched shoes, interesting colour combinations.  In one case, dressing was just too much trouble…

One big hit with nearly everyone, was the India focus day.  I brought in as many of my saris as I could and they were a great hit.  One lady didn't want to give hers back!  Getting them wrapped was like a game.  Asking a dear little thing with advanced Alzheimer's to turn to her right is a futile task.  Ask her to look for the elephant with the orange men on top that she just told you about works a treat.  Instead of lift your left arm, Betty, asking the disgruntled "Sundowner" to reach for the door handle was a successful choice.  On it went.  At first there was reluctance, but once it was seen how graceful and bright the cloths were, they were queuing up - even one gent who, needless to say, was Irish and wanted the green cloth!  Not all were successfully tied in traditional style.  Concessions had to be made to physical condition and patience.  But on the whole they were a pretty bunch.

Wouldn't you agree?


  1. Oh, I love this, Yamini. The sari certainly is a flattering garment, isn't it?
    My parents were in a care facility...not together, because Dad got a bed there first, and it was in the dementia unit, where he needed to be. Mom was still in a lovely assisted living facility when their doctor found a bed for her in the same care facility as Dad. Not in the same wing, but nearby.
    My brothers visited almost daily (there was one or the other or both of them there each day) and I'd fly out to the west coast for a week every couple of months, staying in the care facility's guest suite. I got involved in activities in both units (for Mom's gang I played name-that-tune) and one of my brothers brought singers in as often as possible. My young brother and his wife brought their young children in at least once a week.
    My sister was good about visiting Mom, but reluctant to see Dad, who was no longer his old self. No one pushed her, and eventually she started to show up.
    It's a hard time for a family, but can be made a happy and joyful occasion by the kind and caring people who work there.
    Luv, K

  2. Hari OM
    Yes, Kay, there are those who can deal with it and those who can't... The key thing is that the elders themselves should get the very best possible at the close of their chapter.

    The sari is the most forgiving garment I know and even dear ol' "Paddy" looked good in one!!! Hugs, YAM xx

  3. i would indeed agree, Yam, and those dressing-up days sound like a great idea. Sadly neither of my parents lived to the kind of age at which mental deterioration became more likely, but we're dealing with gradually failing memory in my beloved mother-in-law and are starting to realise how important memory triggers are.

  4. Hari Om
    One of the very best triggers are the old family albums - if they are available - or indeed, photos of well known events in order to get them talking about where they were - or what they were doing at that time...

    I'll be posting more on this as the weeks go by; (hmmm is that a song title???? Meno...)


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