Sunday, November 17, 2019

Old Age

It's so rare to read about the truth of old age, isn't it?

Ronni at Time Goes By does.

But many bloggers are almost apologetic about even talking about the downsides. And there can be many or few of these, depending on health - financial, mental, emotional, physical.

Or is it wearing the brave old face thing through adversity. Exhausting in itself, right?

I remember my father chugging along, even though it appears that he also had PVD (like me now) judging by his grinding-halt-when-walking-syndrome the last time we trekked Sherkin Island and we had to summon a kind driver to ferry him the rest of the way to Silver Strand and then back to the pier. He never shared any of his ailments with his children and he lived alone, soldiering on. Brave? We like to call old people suffering silently brave. But is it? Is it shame? Is it fear of being a crashing organ recital bore?

So what is old age? Hard to define. But as one old wag put it: Old age is five years older than I am now.

I'm way past my allotted three score and ten now - which used to be extreme old age a century ago. I've outlived my own mother by over twenty years. More of my contemporaries and friends are dead than alive. Let that sink in.

This interesting article was forwarded by a friend who is younger than I by about 7 or 8 years. But as we age into 75 do we get greedy? Will he change his opinion?

Quote:
But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

Is there a point to living beyond 75? Do we continue to suck greedily on our health resource services costing so much tax dollars from the youngers who support us through their taxes? And yes, I know we contributed in our turn to the elders of our time. How long does this go on? Till we drool our way to being spoon-fed and diaper changed? I mean we think it's never going to happen to us but hey, I've seen many being carted off who didn't think it would happen to them either. Last case in point a man I had a few coffee dates with.

I am more conscious now of "last times". I know we can't go home again but I truly believe we are never quite aware of the last time we're experiencing something, or being somewhere or being with someone until we are startled suddenly into the realization: yeah, that was the very last time.

And we weep quietly. Bravely alone. Or stay removed and stoic. But that isn't a choice. It's how we're built.

What sayeth you?

19 comments:

  1. Well, I don't think it's greedy to live past 75. Aging is so variable. I have patients in their 80's who are more active than I am. (Although, to be fair, they have more time not consumed by work.) But I have no sense of certainty that I'll get to be old. I hope I do.

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    1. Yes SAW and I also think "well, it will never happen to us, I'm ageing differently than others." I was doing my annual 10 mile road race 5 years ago never suspecting my legs were on the last one.

      And I hope you get old too.

      XO
      WWW

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  2. As above, it varies so much from person to person. Undoubtedly there is more dignity when dying younger but I think we have to accept now that the medical profession can keep us alive to a much older age and the will to live is strong, and society just has to adjust and adapt to the fact. On a personal level, the choice to die at a time of your choosing will become more widespread throughout the world.

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    1. Yes, we already have dying with dignity here Andrew but the bubble of illusion can surround us when bits of dementia strike and I am witnessing that with a dear friend. And yes we age differntly but the parachuting 80 yo is not the norm, much as we'd like it to be. The norm is a fairly fast deterioration in my observations.

      XO
      WWW

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    2. You're right. There are no rules. My mother at 84 is so unsteady on her feet and can barely walk without a wheeled walking frame. Our friend at 83 is much more mobile and has such a great outward view of the world. She does use a motorised scooter for distances and walks with extreme back pain. Then there was a friend who died at 82, who smoke and drank heavily all of her adult life and she was the most active of all three until her last few months. Aside from some eye problems, probably smoking related, she was never sick. Yep, no rules.

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  3. There'd better be a point to living past 75, because I'm planning on doing just that. My dad died a month before turning 75 and mum made it to 78, but my maternal grandmother made it to 96, and several of her ancestors were well into their 80s, so I don't see why I can't aim for 96. I hope to keep my mind though, not become someone who doesn't even remember what books are for and who is visiting me and so on.

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    1. I know, we all want that River but we don't have a choice. My mind is excellent but the flesh is weak and that totally took me sideways, I was so active. But a long ago smoking habit came back to haunt me.

      We just never know, do we?

      XO
      WWW

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  4. My late father's generation was made of different stuff I guess. When he was 91 years old, he drove himself to the airport, handed over the keys to the buyer of the car that he had driven at the airport, signed the transfer papers and flew to Pune to spend the rest of his life with me. For the next four years he lived a fairly healthy life except for a fall during the 95th year which started his downfall as it were and the last few months of his life was hell for him as well as for me and my son who were looking after him.

    I am now 76 and am confined to my home so that I can be close to my medical needs which I can carry around with me but which will make it very embarrassing for me. I live a contented life but, would prefer to not live like this but, I am unable to do anything about it other than accept my condition and do the best that I can under the circumstances.

    I hope that my experience helps.

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    1. I hear you Ramana and I remember how well you coped with your challenging father. I guess we need to make the best of it as you have but I find I wrestle with that, I try to make it less of a struggle to meet my responsibilities and I must say that a solitary home-bound life has a certain appeal where there would be no expectations on me.

      XO
      WWW

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  5. Oh, if it weren't for David, I would live a lonely and helpless life. Thankfully, he is so nice to me.

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    1. Partnership can have its assets but also its downsides Gigi, you are lucky you fit so well with David.
      I'd prefer to be alone than be in a toxic partnership.
      XO
      WWW

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  6. The only thing we really know about old age is that we don't know anything until it is upon us. Like you, I have been a runner and active all my life - yoga, hiking, etc. but last spring I got bursitis which woke me up to how sudden these things can happen. I continued on with a trip to Japan by myself (I am 76) but am more aware than ever that this is not forever. BTW I have been a reader of Ronni's almost since she started - when she was still in NYC. That's probably how I found you. Love her. She tells it like it is.

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    1. So very true Mary, we are taken unawares as you say.I remember doing the Dublin women's marathon with my BFF and within a year she was dead and then another few I was diagnosed with PVD. I do think it is better this way though. Otherwise we'd worry too much beforehand.

      XO
      WWW

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  7. That quote hits the nail on the head. How many of us are living long past our ability to enjoy life to the full? "We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic." Indeed. That's how I remember my mother because she was declining mentally and physically well before she died and I have no memory of her as a lively, alert, physically fit woman.

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    1. It's very complicated Nick, I never know even how to be honest when others ask how I am feeling. I find I'm slipping either into dishonesty or hard truth depending on the day that's in it. Life is certainly more complicated for me anyway, when I have the least energy for it.

      XO
      WWW

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  8. I have already outlived my mom's age at death (45), my brother's (67), and my maternal and paternal grandfathers (67 and 56), and as I approach my 70th birthday, I'm coming up hard on my father's and maternal grandmother's (both 72). We're not a long-lived family, and I've lived with that knowledge for a while now. I've done all I can to protect my health, but things do hit out of the blue. I was jogging 3-4 miles a day at 50, playing the violin with a community symphony orchestra, paddling down the river in our kayaks, and was felled over the course of a week by an auto-immune illness I didn't know I had. Then I have had two brain surgeries in the last three years. I struggle with feeling like a burden (financially and physically), but then a fifteen-year-old granddaughter calls and says, "Grammie, we've been talking on Facetime, and are all making plans for all the granddaughters to get together at your house next weekend. Just wanted to let you know." I made it to a protest of the planned execution of someone who was not given a fair trial, because there happened to be the perfect confluence of place, outside temperature, my symptoms that day, and my husband's availability to drive me. I've got 100 get-out-the-vote postcards waiting to be addressed. But I struggle some days for the mental clarity to edit my novel. No one tells you that auto-immune illnesses sap your mental abilities as well as your physical ones, and anti-seizure meds and brain surgeries certainly do! I practice a lot of "the wind blows in and it will blow out again" statements on the bad days, assuring myself that there will still come productive days, when I can earn my keep on this world.

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    1. Thank you Linda for sharing your struggle, it is hard on some days to cope, just to carry on. I have more tests on my legs coming up and I struggle at times to define my symptoms, is it pain, is it just legs like cement and inability to move them and no one to provide answers apart from me. And like you I feel like there is no end to it.

      Writing and sharing sure helps me. And doing what I can to be of service to others when I can.

      You are doing amazing work in spite of, because of.

      All I know is we can't too hard in the rear view mirror as it just gets us down.

      Big hug to you.

      XO
      WWW

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  9. I'm 81, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 20 years ago. I have no diabetes related complications due to near-obsessive self care. I walk for an hour every single day but having done so, I give myself permission to be prone on the couch with my cat and the NYTwith a clear conscience for the rest of the day. I also play pingpong with another 82-year-old lady 3x a week. I've lived alone for the last 40 years but recently my daughter moved in to live with me simply because I had an extra bedroom and it was located near to her workspace, to which she bikes every day. And it relieves her mind that I'm safe and careful.

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    1. I admire you greatly Whimsy, how wonderful that you manage that walk, I tend to come to a grinding halt, even more so lately and wish I could break through that barrier.

      XO
      WWW

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Comments are welcome.

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