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Voices Of Experience
Try a Little Tenderness
Theories on ageing, research and findings… have been very much part of my life for over 25 years. Now comes the practical experience as I myself am moving fast into the old/old age group. Some theories that I have seen tried out in practice don’t hold water for me. For example babies and young children – I have seen shiny young mums handing their little ones over to older people in resource centres – in the fond hope that this will give them pleasure and comfort and possibly joy – it mostly doesn’t. The mums are bouncy and proud of their tots – but the expressions on the older faces are usually not one of joy. Other people’s babies can dredge up all sorts of sad personal memories – loss, shame, incomprehension and downright irritation is often on the cards... I’m not talking about grandchildren – but of using this interaction as a therapeutic device. Be careful it so often does not work.

I will tell you what, in my experience, does – owning an animal. I’d been living on my own – seeing family some of the time – but increasingly rarely as the younger people get on with their lives. I did not know that I was lonesome – perish the thought – me!

However, since the arrival of rescue dog DollyLu – a rather fat oldish spaniel that was supposed to encourage a rather fat old me to exercise more – I have felt comforted physically and certainly mentally by her affection and cuddliness. I could hardly go around scratching people behind their ears – I doubt if they would have rolled over ecstatically and humming joyously. After the first two weeks, which were horrible – when toilet rules needed to be established, we began to love each other.

This plump hound has a great deal of presence – and yes she does now sleep on my bed – which is not entirely wonderful as she snores louder than any husband! But her warm body snuggling close by is as a source of happiness. Her rapturous welcomes are exhilarating, I now have a companion who I must shop for, bathe, and tend. I won’t say that this relieves the usual aches and pains of my existence – but believe me I am more contented. Do cats have the same effect? I can’t answer that as I’ve never been a cat person – but many of the warm feelings I’ve attributed to DollyLu must surely be the same.

DollyLu is beautiful, hugely affectionate and very much in my life – I would without
hesitation suggest you get your `aged parent’ a companion like mine – it might even stop them ringing you up so often!
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