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Amongst other things, this is a love story.... the theme changes occasionally... this year it is fitness and learning to love yourself.

6 April 2013

F is for freedom - A-Z Challenge - Words of Change. Day 6

freedom |ˈfrēdəm| 
the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Of all the stories I thought of today, one about an old lady that lived in a dementia ward keeps coming up - so I'll try to make it work - and just for a bit of fun, I'll try and use an F word in every sentence.

Florence was a 96 year old, fine featured polite lady.  She was on no medication, not even a vitamin or pain killer - this is rare amongst the feeble. At first glance it was hard to understand why she was being admitted to the dementia ward, her body was able and she appeared mentally stable. 

She was a suffragette, worked in factories, and an award winning artist. She still appreciated great works of art, but failed to recognised them as her own. She had Alzheimer's disease and had become a danger to herself, she got lost checking her mail and nearly died in a kitchen fire. For over 30 years she refused to leave home or give into the limitations of her disease. Her fox like ability to answer questions with questions, gave her the independence she desired. Her family, with best intentions, had to fool her into submission, and just this once, they hoped it was something she would forget.

A dementia ward is a safe place, all doors are fastened. The staff to resident ratio could be better, but most are designed to feel like a home. If you've never been to a dementia ward, or are suddenly forced to live in one, it can be frightful. Adults with child like minds, that never get smarter, forget their manners and where to put faeces. Florence was very afraid. The first few days she graciously asked to go home, and every night she would wait by the door, ready to be picked up or let out. After a week she became frantic, whenever a guest came to visit, she asked, begged and pleaded "please help me escape, I want to be free"

Florence eventually found freedom in safety, by smashing the little glass window that says 'BREAK IN CASE OF EMERGENCY'.  A state of the art security system was no match for Florence.  The sirens wailed, and all the doors and gates automatically unlocked. While staff tried to find the source of the flames Florence, the fearless, escaped to find freedom.

We finally found Florence outside taking a rest and waiting for...something she couldn't remember. She agreed to come 'home' because she was freezing. We requested more staff so we could focus on her movements - but that was never going to happen. The solution was an automatic sliding door to a fenced in courtyard, which meant she (and the other residents) had access to the outside world, with out needing to ask for permission. Yes, she was trapped by her failing cognition but her legacy includes, first-place for freedom.


Nelson Mandela - His Royal Highness the Majesty of Freedom deserves a mention, but for Florence, it means accepting responsibility for everything that happens in your life and letting go of all of your self imposed limitations. Allowing yourself to think, feel and say what you want, instead of what is expected. Simply, give yourself freedom to be you. 

Is freedom 'just another word for nothing left to lose?'  Probably, but that just means we
have nothing to worry about.