It's little surprise that so many older adults enjoy listening to the radio. What with deteriorating vision or being frail or unwell - with mobility often compromised - they are often unable to indulge in traditional media pleasures the rest of us hipsters take for granted.
Why radio will never go out of fashion
Vices such as watching television, reading a good book or wallowing for half a day with toast'n'coffee over the Sunday paper is simply no longer feasible.
Popping on the 'wireless', therefore, makes perfect sense!
Not that they are missing much, surely? Because it seems telly these days has become unrelenting with it's bombardment of
rubbish 'reality' shows targeted solely towards a younger, more impressionable, audience. It leaves mature adults unable to relate and feeling overwhelmed at such bad taste and absence of depth. (Big Brother, The Batchelor and that heinous House Wives series leap to mind here)
Instead, having a nice string of the golden oldies crooning away on the radiogram in the front room works beautifully to lift sullen moods and put some zing into a lonely pensioner's day. Memories of happy, sprightlier times are jogged by meaningful tunes, as well as offering the much-needed company that a senior living alone may now be lacking.
“Hearing Vera Lynn always reminds me of my Edith and the times we used to sit in the back of the truck on our way to the dance at the town hall. Drinking home-made cider we'd pinched from my Dad's basement, giggling our heads off... we felt sooo naughty!”
Talkback radio, too, is ideal for supporting a socially secluded elder through periods of loneliness and the despairing need for human interaction. They get to stay fully up to speed with the latest news and affairs of the nation (usually in the middle of the night when they can't sleep) plus share opinions and views with like-minded people of the same ilk.
Similarly, for the older gents who adore and can't live without their sport. Sadly, thanks to 'old people' medical conditions, they are no longer physically capable of enduring long hours attending a footy game or cricket match in person.
To quote one of my favourite elderly clients, 89-year-old Bert with his 'gammy leg and dicky knees': “The logistics alone would just about kill me!”
Instead, he attaches himself to his little black trannie (circa 1973) via a pair of well-used, nicotine-stained earplugs and lies back in his armchair to bellow at “that frigging umpire” until he nods off with the excitement of it all. Earplugs or headphones are superbly handy for senior citizens who are hearing-impaired. They're also a godsend for the unlucky spouse who otherwise gets stuck tolerating the din!
"Jeee-zuz, Ref...my wife's gotten pregnant from less than that!"
However... as marvellous and new-age as all that is, I have other clients I visit who can't manage their broadcast transmissions to save themselves! And it doesn't matter how ridiculously enormous the knobs on their radios are, or how basic the design or how simple the technology is to operate... THEY WILL STILL FIND A WAY TO STUFF UP THE SETTINGS!
Today, for example, I arrived at 87-year-old Jack's home - where I was hit with that adorably sweet melody 'Sweet Child of Mine' as it boomed off the Richter scale, making the crockery in Jack's glass cabinet rattle.
“Oh, I've tried fiddling with it, Dollie... but since I started my new pills I've lost the feeling in my hands a bit. Can't seem to land it on anything except THAT racket.”
Poor ol' Jack. In all the fluster, he'd dealt with ear-splitting Axel Rose the only way he knew how - by shutting all the doors and stowing himself away in the spare room. It never occurred to him to end the wickedness by just switching his radio off at the wall!
And he's not alone:
“Damn thing has a mind of its own. I set it on a nice bit of Sinatra, but the next day
it's somehow flicked itself over and I'm left with that lot screeching at me”
(Alice Cooper, anyone?)
“Oh, I hadn't noticed... I thought I was listening to Roger Whittaker"
('Eye of the Tiger'... good for what ails ya)
“My son will be here later, I thought I'd leave it for him to sort out. Didn't want to meddle in case I broke something. Plus, it means I get to see him more often”
(Led Zeppelin at brekky time... for a 'Whole Lotta Love')
”Bloody things been making an awful noise since I dropped it down the back of the bed/in the sink/onto the cat!”
(Who DIDN'T get their kids to sleep with that delightful 'Smoke on the Water' lullaby?)
Let's face it, as someone clever once said “Radio: It's like television, only the pictures are better!”
Which subsequently explains, in relation to my beloved clients intent on keeping their minds stimulated as they age, why I seem to be always adjusting their knobs!
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