By Leon A Smith
November 23, 2010
Yesterday residents at Nightingale enjoyed a visit from Michael Palin who spoke of his career and travel and a large group of residents had the opportunity to chat with him over tea……….
……and on Friday I had the pleasure of celebrating a 101st birthday with one of our residents here at Nightingale.
Margarete is an amazing person – kind, gentle, softly spoken with a glint in her eye.
Margarete is one of 12 residents at Nightingale aged 100 and over – I like to think it’s the way we look after our residents!
Receiving a tele message from the Queen on a 100th birthday was (decades ago) a rarity and a very special occasion. Today they are increasingly common. There are more and more people living to this great age. The average age of residents at Nightingale is 89 with many residents in their mid-90’s. So great has been the increase of people living to over the age of 100 that even Buckingham Palace has had to cut back on the number of tele messages that it sends – messages only being sent on a 100th birthday and every 5 years thereafter!
Reaching such a grand age can be a mixed blessing – the quality of life is of course paramount to us all but this is often dictated by the quality of our health, either physical or intellectual. We often read of the importance of keeping one’s mind active and eating healthy food. The truth however is more like a lottery. Sadly dementia is random and non-selective in the people that it strikes – academics, scientists, doctors and teachers are just as likely to develop dementia as those with less intellectually stimulating jobs and/or those occupations which involve manual labour. Yes, of course, it makes sense to eat healthily and to keep occupied but in the end to enjoy a quality old age is very much a matter of luck.
Notwithstanding all of this, at Nightingale we endeavour to provide as much stimulation as possible – both intellectually and physically in order that people’s minds and bodies are occupied through simple exercises such as Tai Chi and/or classes in our Activities Centre including ceramics, painting, and cooking. To a great extent many of these activities are diversionary and we all know that keeping occupied can keep our minds from more pressing and perhaps less pleasant matters.