Alf always delivers
A great grandfather living with dementia is brightening the lives of residents at a Bupa Aged Care home with his daily mail rounds.
When 86-year-old Alf Terry delivers mail to residents at Bupa Croydon, he's also delivering smiles.
There’s a spring in his step, a song to his voice, and a purpose in his stride.
“Look what I’ve got!” he says, proudly carrying a hand full of letters.
This is what makes Alf happy.
Alf Terry worked for Australia Post for more than three decades, and in his mind, he’s the best postman there ever was.
“He was a postman for 36 years and loved it. Still loves it. Thinks he’s a postie even now,” says his wife, Lorraine Terry.
“I don’t think he will ever retire, it’s just part of who Alf is,” she says.
Alf was diagnosed with dementia nine years ago.
Lorraine looked after him for as long as she could, but when she became unwell she had to make the difficult decision to move him into care. She chose Bupa Croydon.
Alf has difficulty with short term memory, and at times mistakes his wife of more than 60 years for his girlfriend.
While it’s tough for Lorraine, she finds comfort in knowing that he’s being cared for by people who understand his history and his passions.
“It’s comforting for me because at home I’m just so lonely. And knowing I can come here and visit him whenever, and see him happy, makes a big difference.”
PERSON FIRST APPROACH
Croydon general manager Karen Cole says enabling Alf to be a postman every morning is part of Bupa’s Person First approach to aged care.
“Person First is understanding a person before any disease they may have,” she says, “So particularly in Alf’s situation, it’s the fact that he used to be a postman. That is being Person First with Alf. It’s understanding his history, what he likes, dislikes, rather than the fact that he is someone living with dementia,” she says.
“For Alf, being able to go out and check the mail, and doing the things that he used to do, means dementia isn’t an issue. It’s not a case of him having to remember, because he still has those memories. He’s able to connect with that,” says Karen.
The bright red post-box at the front of the home was hand crafted by residents who were part of a men’s shed.
When Alf see’s the postman arrive and fill it with mail, he knows what has to be done.
“He would see the postman drive up the driveway, and then he would be quite annoyed that we wouldn’t check it straight away. So now if he sees the postman arrive, we have to go out immediately to bring the mail in,” says Karen.
A LIFE TOGETHER
Alf’s wife describes him as a caring person, who always looked after her.
“We did things together. Everywhere we went, we went together. We never had any money, but it was nice. And I always felt special. Always.”
“He loved the outdoors, loved the people in it, and tells everyone he was the best postie in the world.”
We think she’s probably right.
Find out more about Bupa Aged Care, and our Person First approach to caring for people with dementia.