What I Have Not Lost
Right now, I am sitting at my computer, drinking my coffee. I just made a call to the daughter of a neighbor, who lost her mother and is concerned for her father, in his 90s, who is giving up his driver's license. I am grateful that I still have my drivers license and do not look forward to the day when I have to make that choice. It is very difficult for older adults to make that decision and to give into other "life-style changes" and decision-making that they used to be able to make on their own. It is frightening to give up one's own power and independence. I want to be more of a listener. I hope I am more honest, open and willing to live my compassion, to listen to fears and the concerns of the elderly and disabled, who resist the forced changes in their lives, imposed upon them, often against their will. Many of my 90+ friends and clients are in a state of grief and shock that their "Golden Years" are not what they expected. When I listen to the complaints of the elderly and disabled people I keep my mouth shut and my ears open. I have not yet lost a long-time spouse. Many individuals who are now alone had one marriage that lasted for over 65 years. I have not lost many long-time friends and other peers and colleagues. I have not experienced the myriad of changes, in technology that separate me from communicating with the outside world. I have not lost my vision to "macular degeneration" or my hearing, or my range of motion to arthritis. I have not lost my mobility and my strength to do the things my mind wants to accomplish. I have not lost my sense of accomplishment and being a part of the world. I have not had the home I lived in and raised my family in sold and my possessions sold, so I can be admitted into a nursing facility. I have not lost the ability to cook the food I like or eat the way I want. I have not had the embarrassment of not being able to get to the commode on time or of voiding or eliminating on myself and not being capable of cleaning myself. I do not want to beg to be able to experience the outdoors and fresh air and sunshine, because I cannot get there on my own. I can still read, paint, draw, write, enjoy movies and the music I prefer (not music that the younger generation thinks that all old people like.) I can still command respect. People don't call me "baby" and ask if I need my "diaper" changed. (People I know now often miss being able to have the privacy and dignity to take themselves to the bathroom and care for themselves.) Most people I know, who are quiet, are only quiet so they will not have repercussions or "be a bother" to CNA's and nursing staff. They think it is easier to be "good" even though it is their new "home." I wish that people engaged in true conversation with the elderly. People with dementia love attention and know, deep down, who really cares and who does not. All of us do, even if we have sound minds, we often do not have hearts that are open.
I am a writer who gives a shit about elderly... we will be older sooner than we hope