We do cling to life don't we? And the more we age, the more we cling. I took huge risks with my life back in the day. Cliff climbing, racing a motorbike at 100 mph (by myself) - on a flat straight road, mind you - but still, one false move and bingo, meat on the pavement, driving way beyond tiredness, falling asleep at the wheel, jerking awake, driving in blizzards on highways in the dark. Pushing myself far too far in road races. Unkillable. That was me.
Friends and I
joke are semi-serious about when Alzheimer's or dementia comes knocking at our door. Stashing little supplies of pills, looking at towering cliffs with a keen evaluating eye on the ocean below. We'd stop that baby in its tracks. Or would we?
I have observed the onset on this mental breakdown in fellow tenants or listen to the anecdotal evidence. Two recently "forgot" to eat and were carted off in ambulances to go on an IV for a week to bring their bodies back into balance and then released to their own devices back into our building. Only fellow tenants checking in on them. Families all on the mainland. Apparently forgetting to eat is a sign of the "middling stage" of dementia.
Point being jumping off cliffs will be forgotten along with the meals we're forgetting to eat or the pills we don't know what to do with. Dark humour there.
I have been here long enough now to observe some of the final stages of mental collapse. Stoves unplugged permanently, licences yanked, cars sold, medications put into those automatic dispensers that beep at you, all services paid for by family members if they can afford it, helpers, launderers, cleaners, companions. shoppers, Then evacuation to long term care, quietly, silently, with no farewells.
Offing oneself when the time came is now a long ago idea, buried with all the others in the dark grave of yesterday's plans.
Interestingly enough, anecdotal again, it's the readers and doers and creators and puzzles-solvers that don't join the legion of these sufferers. And I do wonder if mental acuity along with exercising of the brain regularly keeps that particular wolf from the door. Learning new skills is a good workout however challenging and frustrating it can be at times.