time waits for no one

old age 2

Australia has recently introduced plain packaging with very graphic images of the consequences of smoking in an endeavour to dissuade people from smoking. Perhaps we should introduce tours to care facilities for seniors as a deterrent in the same manner for those in the middle age category who refuse to take care of their health.

We received a call that Mum had taken another fall. It is as if her brain and feet no longer work in tandem, and even when we instruct her step by step it is a long and arduous task. I remember our Dad had the same difficulties towards the end of his life. One day he and I ended in quite a tangle when I could neither get him to sit nor stand, as he hovered between until we were rescued by nursing staff.

Nothing can stop the erosion of age, but in many ways my mother is responsible for some of what is happening to her. She was always resistant to going to the doctor for regular check-ups, was frequently difficult about, and in fact could not be trusted to take medication when she required it, and hid the true state of her physical and mental decline from the family. Before her collapse last year her doctor had asked her to return for a follow up and she did nothing about it.

She did tell one of her sisters, but swore her to secrecy  Her sisters are just as resistant to maintaining their health, but if that sister had just phoned one of us, maybe our mother would not have become so ill, collapsed, or had the heart attack that followed. The sister she told has experienced two bouts of cancer; one breast, the other bowel cancer, and so surely she knows the value of medical help. Then again, she refused follow up treatment after surgery for the bowel cancer. It is if they would rather die than trust medical treatment.

A visit to a seniors’ care facility shows not only that the old become invisible and neglected by the government they supported all their lives, but is also a sharp and painful reminder that age comes to everyone, and not always pleasantly. We can’t stop getting older, however we can do a lot about how we age. Keeping our minds occupied, our bodies moving, maintaining relationships with family, friends and the community, assessing support and medical treatment and being honest with yourself and others, in my opinion will go a long way to improving the quality of an old age.

Well may my mother have argued that it was her life and she would do as she wished, but the truth is, her life wasn’t her own. She was dependent on my sister for so many things in the last few years, and was only able to live alone in the family home because of my sister’s diligent care; her sacrifices. Yet so many times my sister’s efforts were met with anger and hurtful words.

No on has the right to expect another person to give up their lives for them. Parenthood is not a reason to expect children to exhaust themselves caring for parents who don’t play fair by doing their best to maintain their own health and independence.

Most children, especially daughters, do the caring though. Year in and year out they worry, and feel guilt because they can never do enough to hold back time. They carry the burden of walking behind and taking care of the details when plans and decisions are neglected until it becomes an emergency. They go home and weep for what has been lost, and for what is approaching.

The cycle of life goes around, but we need to take responsibility and plan to have an old age of quality and one that not only we, but our families may enjoy too. Plan for it now, no matter your age for it comes tapping on the shoulder in the blink of time.

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16 thoughts on “time waits for no one

  1. Very very true words. It is good to always keep going, and to keep in mind that we need to be prepared for when our parents and then when we need assistance. I intend to get myself into a senior apartments rather than be counting on my children to help me.
    And that plan includes putting away some money….those kinds of things are not cheap! The nicer ones, that is.

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  2. Oh, I’m sorry about your mother! That stage of dementia is horrible—as you said, it’s like the connection between brain and body has been broken. But yes, my parents hated going to the doctor, in spite of their paying $750 a month for very good health insurance. When they were told to take medications or come back for a follow-up visit, they’d either stop taking the pills after a few days, grumbling that they didn’t “feel sick,” or they wouldn’t bother to make the appointment. My father however had the fear of God instilled in him when he had a heart attack and a bypass; plus he was a bit more social and physically active than Mom, which probably explains why he outlived her.

    How I became my parents’ caregiver however, I still can’t explain. My sister and brother were the favorites, while I was the black sheep. Maybe the Universe decided I needed to learn a lesson myself about aging. Tomorrow, I’m going in for my physical. Next week, I’ll see my new gynecologist, who looks young enough to be my son. It’ll be odd, but I’ll keep reminding myself of my mother while being examined. Perhaps I should also print out this post and keep it in my handbag as another reminder.

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  3. You may know that I don’t have children. When people hear this, the occasional response is something on the order of, “But who will take care of you when you’re old?” Which to me seems like a pretty lousy reason to have children, to create insurance policies funded on the power of guilt.

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    • Whenever my younger daughter and I have an argument, she says, “Remember, who’s gonna push your wheelchair when you get old?” LOL! I tell her that I hope I’ll always be able to use my legs, even if they’re a bit slow. But I won’t expect my children to look after me. I’ve already told them, “If I ever become like your grandparents, don’t even hesitate to throw me in a home!” Children should not be obligated to give up their own lives just to look after a physically and mentally failing parent, especially if the parent did nothing to take care of herself.

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    • It soon gets to the point where children can’t look after parents anyway. We all work today, and we don’t have the training to lift and bathe and medicate old people, many of whom are on the heavy side these days. Lots of children live far from home these days too. I will find the penultimate facility for us all to blog on in!

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  4. A thought-provoking post as most of regulars on this site seem to be going through a similar phase. The Mole would be more than happy to head off to a residential care place of some kind and be in charge of the craft room. Ratty is more stubborn and would prefer being carried out feet first from his current domain. The Mole says this can be arranged……

    Ratty

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  5. I volunteer once a week with the library – taking a huge selection of books/audiobooks/DVDs to private care homes here. It is very interesting at what age and ability couples/singles choose to move into the facility. There are private cottages (houses) on the grounds for the more independent…. Care givers are paid when more help is needed – it is so far away from the idea of ‘nursing homes’ that existed in 1970s Britain.
    My great gran lived with us from when I was born until her death in the living room after prolonged illness. We had little normal life with her presence at all. Resentment was the norm and a totally unhealthy atmosphere prevailed.
    I see MIL having similar situation now with FIL. Just hard to fathom why…

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