For many people, summertime means freedom from work and studies. Abdirizak, 26, from Vantaa, missed having something to do and volunteered with elderly people.
– I do have time to play football and go swimming in the evenings and on weekends. I just didn’t want to be at home all summer long, he says.
Abdirizak likes to help people, and he had met elderly people earlier during language training. He wanted to become more familiar with elderly people and get some experience at the same time.
On the first day as a volunteer at an assisted living home for the elderly, he pushed a wheelchair for the first time in his life. Now he notices from the head position of “Martta”, who sits in a wheelchair, when she has something to tell or needs something. Or she knows that game pieces can’t be put within the reach of “Lauri’s” hand, because otherwise he puts them into his mouth.
– I have a feeling, that I learn something new every day, Abdirizak thinks.
Among learning other things, his Finnish skills have also developed hugely during the summer. The elderly have been very interested in him and he has had to use Finnish, even though for Abdirizak it has always been easier to listen.
– The first word I learned in the assisted living home was a rollator, the young man laughs.
Abdirizak’s main task as a volunteer has been to keep company to the elderly people. Naturally, it has been easiest for him to socialize with those elderly who have no memory disorder and who can still talk.
– My best friend in the service home is Martta. We discuss a lot together and I take her to shops every week.
Still, Abdirizak also gives attention to the elderly who are suffering from a memory disorder.
– You can’t expect that an elderly person asks you to play. You have to be active yourself.
It’s being active that Abdirizak highlights as one of the attributes of a good volunteer. He also mentions cheerfulness and patience. According to Abdirizak, it must be understood that the elderly are different. When you are patient yourself, you learn to know them and you can find the right way to do things with them.
Abdirizak got so excited about working with the elderly that at the moment he is in the same assisted living home in an internship. He plans to start practical nurse’s studies in the future. If the internship had not been possible, Abdirizak would have continued as a volunteer.
Suvi Hiltunen / Elderly care trainee in Valli ry
The names of the elderly in the article have been changed.
Translation: Kati Merikoski