Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In need of a fairy godmother

My job involves working with older adults. I consistently try to find new and exciting programs that will keep them educated, active, and ultimately, more healthy.

I've done this job for over 11 years now, the longest I have stayed at any job.

The numbers that I work with have dramatically increased during that time, but the hardest part is it a constantly changing group as we experience the losses of those who have become friends.

While doing this job, there have been some programs that have needed just the "right" time, "right" staff, and "right" members to get the project going.

We've started several new programs this year, but my "pet" project was for those who were newly single.

My best example of how quickly and radically life can change for the older adults is when a dear lady was trying to get to the airport, to catch a flight to visit her children after her husband of 50+ years died.

It was our one day of ice and snow in Dallas and she hit something that blew out both tires.

The city was still asleep, save for this woman trying to uphold her end of the commitment of the reservation for a flight out of town. She had absolutely no idea what to do and drove her car for miles until she could get to within walking distance of my parents' home, where she knew she would be taken care of.

This woman did not even know how to adjust the seat in her car.

Realizing she is an example of so many others, whom I have no personal experiences with, I pressed forward with my plans to do a program specifically for the newly single, with the goal being to help them re-establish an identity as an individual.

Most of the age group we work with have been married 50+ years and many to their high school sweethearts, so to start over again, for some, is too overwhelming.

I thought we would have a day of looking inwardly, with a counselor on hand, to help clear the way to establish an identity.

Well that one session has now turned into eight, at last count, and they are asking for more.

In the meantime, I wanted us to press forward and begin working on our outward appearance, with the ultimate goal of them participating in our fashion show as models for our upcoming BIG event.

As we age, our eyesight sometimes is not as good as it has been and many times people will turn up with spills on their clothes, a need for a shave, a real need for a good moisturizer, and just an overall pepping up and helping them with this process.

We are down to the wire with our group in trying to achieve this transformation and today they were to learn how to walk across the stage as models.

This group has presented challenges that I have not experienced in all of this years in working with older adults.

There are some who are extremely outspoken, some who are painfully shy, some who are just very nice people, but none who are looking like models yet. In fact, I'm not sure we have made any progress at all!

The class did not start off on the best foot and soon there was a very animated conversation as to whether Barbra Streisand was pretty or not, which went on to whether it is better not to say anything, if you do not have something nice to say, to a lengthy discussion on the type of music they want as they are modeling, to how to even walk across the stage.

I looked at our line up.

Those who should have not had facial hair did, those who wore hose needed some lycra in them, the wigs were not quite where they should be, and support garments were missing!

I need a fairy godmother. If you have one, please send her to me!

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