Thinking about Aging

Andrew and Haley and I drove out to Provo this past weekend to spend a few days of their fall break visiting Tom’s mom.  After a couple of years of falls and mini-strokes and various ailments that come and go, she has reached the point of needing someone in her home all the time, “just in case”.  Luckily for everyone, there are two grand daughters living here with Leone and they have done a great job of managing schedules and learning the basics of caring for an older person who needs assistance getting around and performing basic self-care.

The kids and I have spent the last three days hanging out with Grandma.  We’ve watched some movies, we’ve shared some memories, we’ve eaten together and laughed and generally enjoyed her company.  She’s been pretty sharp, mentally speaking.  But it’s gotten me thinking again, about the difficulties of growing older.

One of the best parts of becoming an adult is that you are the “master of your own fate”.  Well, maybe not the master of your whole fate, but there is certainly a large measure of independence and privacy.  Then you get old and your body starts betraying you.  Suddenly, you can’t take such things as driving a car, or walking up steps, or even getting up from a chair for granted.  Your reflexes slow, your vision fades, your hearing is unreliable, your thought processes falter.  And there are all these people who start telling you when to get out of bed, when and what to eat, where you can go or what you can do.  And yet, you aren’t a child – you have a lifetime of experience.

For caregivers this is tricky – how do you maintain as much independence and dignity as possible while still keeping the person you love safe?  For the person being cared for it’s also tricky – where does dignity lie?  can you accept help without feeling helpless?

It reminds me that the phrase, “endure to the end” isn’t some meaningless phrase – we really do endure clear to the end.  There isn’t a cessation of challenges when we reach a certain age.  We don’t get exempted from exercising grace and fortitude just because we are old.  I have loved spending time with my mother-in-law.  She is, as always, thoughtful and funny and self-deprecating.  I’m grateful that she is as strong as she is and I hope we will have more time together.  But I can’t deny that time moves on whether we will or not.  Things change, events slip further into the past, people I have loved have died and I can’t call them on the phone anymore “just to chat”.  I am so grateful to know that these separations are temporary, and that live goes on beyond the grave.  I do like imagining the amazing reunions that lie ahead of me, when all those I love will be together again, never to be parted.

1 thought on “Thinking about Aging

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      Loved this post. Brought back all the feelings and thoughts I had while caring for my parents. You’re right about the “enduring to the end” it isn’t easy and perhaps may present the biggest challenge of all. Thanks for sharing this.

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