“My hearing aid is in the printer” is not exactly what a person expects to wake up hearing first thing in the morning. It’s cold, you are wet from the shower, have no clothing on yet, can’t be late to work, and the old person in the house has already been up since 5:30 in the morning waiting. Now you have to figure out how to remove a hearing aid from the printer.
Life is full of curve balls and as we age, new and unexpected curve balls arise. Aging is the reverse of puberty, and comedians have been making fun of both for centuries. Are you experiencing stiffness in your joints, muscle weakness, saggy skin, blurry eyesight, raspy vocals, gray hair? If so, you are falling apart or you are aging and it’s not really funny. So, it’s necessary to have empathy for the older folks in our lives. They used to be as vibrant and cellulite free as we are today. Who knows what is actually rattling around in their brains, but I’m sure they are not expecting to drop something in the sink, the toilet or the printer. If you have a big heart and are caring for an elderly family member and hear things like, “I fell in the toilet, can you help me out please”, you deserve a gold medal. Especially if you wipe.
Aside from the potential for injury from a toilet fall, you have to consider things that could really cause life-threatening injuries to the elderly you care for and those around them. For instance, steps anywhere, dancing poles that were installed in your house in the 80’s or 90’s, glass and metal coffee tables, small pets, and of course cars. When your elderly guest walks out to their car numerous times in a ten minute period to look for his pillow and blanket, further consideration to hiding the keys should be taken. Black eyes, broken glass, squished puppies and wrecked cars are not good for the soul. If the elderly cannot remember how to defrost the windows in their gigantic Ford LTD, it is likely they are not going to remember which lever is the gear shift and which one is the blinker! A Smart car may not fare well against a Ford LTD doing 45 miles per hour through an intersection.
If you wake up with beautiful peace and quiet in the mornings, and never hear the sound of a garage door crashing in because your grandfather missed the brake peddle, then you are lucky. And since all you have to worry about is your own aging; fear not, there are life-changing, confidence altering products and procedures at every turn. For instance, there are: non-surgical face lifts, teeth implants, hair plugs, liposuction, scores of supplements, creams and concoctions, Viagra, permanent makeup, singles clubs for those over 55, and Florida, where everyone has the same hairdo and a Ford LTD. So do not despair.
If you are in despair, read this paragraph. There was a recent story on NPR about a female author who decided it was time to die and killed herself. Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate the story or the name of the author, but I vividly recall the interview with her daughter. The daughter relayed her mother’s decision years before her death (like an army of authors before her) that at some point in her life, her life would have no point and she would kill herself. She did not want to burden her family, and at the age of 70, was going to off herself. Well, her family worried for years while waiting with anticipation, and fortunately, at the age of 70, she changed her mind. Seven years later, after writing a book about aging, she finally followed through on her promise while her family was not expecting it, and killed herself. As much as it may be a weenie move and inconsiderate, it can also be perceived as a bold move and considerate. Nobody has to take her car away, rearrange their home and furniture, hide the Chihuahua to avoid its early accidental demise, or dig a hearing aid out of a printer.
Do you consider that a bold move or is it so Virginia Woolf? Is there really a right way to do die and a wrong way to die? Either way, someone is going to be upset, but you know the saying, “You cannot make everybody happy all of the time.” Tacky I know, but it is just one of many catch 22’s we find ourselves in through life. It’s just an option.
Instead of suicide, aging gracefully, peacefully, and accepting the weaknesses we will experience seems easier in the end. Getting our brains to cooperate will make aging even more peaceful and pleasant. Keeping my hopes up as I plan to visit my grandmother for her 101st birthday without my Chihuahua . . . Carpe Diem!