‘Am I A Visitor?’

‘Are you a visitor?

The old woman placed a shaky hand on his knee and leant forwards to look at him

‘I was a visitor once but now I can’t leave’

The woman began to grip his hand with a look of both fear and confusion

‘Now come on Sheila let’s leave young Brain alone to get on with serving the teas, there’s a good girl’

The member of staff sat her back in her chair, put the blanket over her knees and placed the cup of the on the table next to her

‘Don’t mind them here Brian most of them get confused’ she said as she pushed the tea trolley along beside him

He’d decided to volunteer at the home rather than sitting in his hostel all day long. He was getting bored and didn’t want to get tempted back off the wagon by being around the other residents who seemed to spend all day in a drunken haze, arguing, abusing the staff or just sleeping where they slumped

Brian wasn’t judging them as he’d been there enough times himself over the past few years but now he’d reached thirty he wanted to clean himself up, get his act together and move on. One of the new volunteers at the hostel had told him they were looking for help at the home and that they were willing to give people a fresh start, not to judge them

This was his first day and he’d decided not to tell anyone at the hostel about it. Everyone knew everyone else’s business but this was just going to be for him. It felt good to be giving something back to people who were now in a worse off position to him for once

As he walked around it was the same conversation that seemed to come up again and again about once being a visitor but now they couldn’t leave. It was if they were all repeating each other. Perhaps that’s what happens when you spend all of your time around others with dementia or Alzheimer’s thought Brian

The walking around began to make him feel tired. He began to notice aches and pains in his back that he’d never noticed before. Being around old people was beginning to make him feel old himself. In fact in the hour he’d been there he felt as if he’d aged about forty years he told the staff member who was with him. Funny though, he’d forgotten her name already

Then he began to lose the thread of what he was supposed to be doing there in the first place. He couldn’t remember what drinks people wanted even though they’d just told him. When he did hand them over his hands were shaking so much he spilt most of them over the floor

He first noticed his hands. They looked like the hands of an old man but he couldn’t remember what his hands should look like anymore. His vision was getting blurry which made him feel unsettled and dizzy. He began to sway about on his unsteady legs

‘Oh steady my poor old love’ said the member of staff

‘Let’s get you up to your room before you fall over. We don’t want you having an accident do we now’

She led him by the arm towards the reception area. As they passed a mirror he could see the reflection of the staff member helping an old man, hunched and shuffling towards the stair lift

‘Am I a visitor?’ he asked her

He had a vague recollection of arriving here but wasn’t sure when or how

‘Oh no dear you’re not a visitor anymore’ she replied as she pressed the button that sent him on his way up the stairs