School for Care Helpers: Danish

Today’s class was Danish, or “national language” time for the Danish students. The theme is “Quality of Life” and “The Five Senses”. How does this relate to elder care?

First of all, 35 of us first-year students at the School of Eldery Care Helpers (basic course) gathered at 9:00 a.m on Zoom. We were told that today and tomorrow would be a two-person teamwork, so the first thing we did was to announce the pairs. I’m glad my partner is Birthe (estimated 58), a serious and sweet lady!

The first task was “List five things that are important to you to achieve a quality of life. Then talk about it in pairs and summarize it into five things you agree on”. Below are the five I listed.

It’s all about love (Kærelighed), communication (Kommunikation), home (Bolig), fresh air (Frisk Luft) and hobbies/friends (Hobby/Venner). Starting from here, I talked with Birthe and we settled on five things that are essential to a quality life: love, family, nature, memories and communication.

At 11:00 a.m., Zoom convened and the next task was presented. “Take an hour’s walk. Using the five senses, write down what you notice during the walk and discuss it as a team. How did you feel after the activity with the five senses?”. I set off on my usual course: following the path of cherry blossoms, streams and woods to the sea. The temperature was still chilly. The smell, that seemed thicker than usual. The sound and feel of my stomping on the ground. The people I’ve met. The color of the flower. A birds’ chirping. The scent of the tide. I took notes on a lot of things. When I talked to Birthe after I got home, she told me that Birthe had met our classmate, Christer on the way and they had walked together. She also told me what she’s written down in a bit exciting tone. As we talked, I realized many things. For example.

  • The mood is dependent on the weather. When the sun is shining, it just brightens your mood.
  • When we are conscious about the five senses, it gets more fun and curious.
  • It increases self-compassion, optimism and satisfaction.
  • Even on the same walk, the feeling is different when you go alone or with other people. When you are alone, you walk quietly and observantly, but when you are with someone, you talk a lot about what you see and hear.

Yes, I wanted to share what I was seeing and smelling with someone else! When we eat,  “It’s good” or “It’s bad”. When we see a flower, we briefly exchange a comment on the color and smell. By sharing these small sensations with others, people may feel a sense of happiness and quality of life.

At 1:30, we convened again on Zoom and our homework for tomorrow was given. “Compose a poem based on what you have thought and seen today. Do this as a team too”. As a result of my discussion with Birthe, we decided to write one poem independently for the time being and to see how it would go tomorrow.

I wrote the poem in the imaginary world of what it would be like if I were to get old and bereave my partner. It’s a crappy poem, but I’d like to share it in my next blog. It’s my very first poem in Danish, anyway! Now, I can’t wait to see how tomorrow’s class is going to be.

At the inception of the school, I was wondering what we were going to learn for more than three years at a care helpers’ school. Nowadays I realize that I’m learning about aging, life, dignity, and many more important things as a person…