Local resident Miguel recently began his volunteering journey with the CVS, visiting an elderly gentleman who resides in an aged care facility in the Brighton area. Miguel’s story highlights the many rewards volunteering brings to both the volunteer and recpitent.
When I signed up to volunteer I was offered to visit a French gentleman that has proven to be a wonderful experience both for him and I.
During our visits, I offered my conversational skills on topics of personal interest in History, Art and Literature. For someone whose first language is not English, I was also keen to chat in one of the other languages that I speak (Italian, Portuguese and French). The assumption being that a conversation in a native language is more stimulating to someone who is experiencing cognitive decline.
Each time I arrive at the aged home, Pierre’s (not his real name) face completely lights up and he repeatedly states how happy he is to see me. I encourage Pierre to talk about where he’s at, about his immediate surroundings and whatever he remembers of his past. Conversations are limited by his poor short-term memory and by his cloudy memories of things past. I continue to chat to him, saying nice things about France, sometimes mentioning current news, or things about my own work and family life.
I often bring him something nice to eat like chocolates or cakes. Recently I brought him a chocolate éclair and on a previous visit some red wine, French cheese and crackers. He just loves this sort of pampering!
I had been told that Pierre is a chess player so when the opportunity presented, we launched right into it. I could tell that he had been a good and competitive player in his time, and he had moments of brilliant strategy.
I will now keep playing these games regularly, as I can see that Pierre really ‘comes out of his shell’ during our matches.
In my happy and extremely busy life, I find my visits with Pierre to be very rewarding. They are for me small ‘islands of peacefulness’, where I am able to focus my attention on one person fully and to witness the good effects of doing just that.
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