Posts Tagged ‘Aging’

Locking up grandma

January 10, 2014

I recently returned from visiting my mother. She’s in an assisted living facility and we are investigating a memory care facility, although she does not need it yet. The memory care facility locks the residents in. While touring the facility, one man suggested I put her there now, so she can adjust to it. What? She doesn’t need it yet, she’s happy where she is, and they want me to move her? I would certainly be unhappy to be put in a locked facility when I didn’t need it. It would seem like imprisonment. No, more accurately, it would be imprisonment.

I don’t resent the freedoms I’ve given up with age, because it is the price I pay for living as long as I have, but I am aware of them. I have many limitations that I didn’t have when I was younger. I spend more of my time and energy staying healthy. It takes me longer to do many things. I have trouble learning my students’ names. The list goes on.

My mother was unhappy when we persuaded her to give up her car. I don’t blame her, because having a car means freedom to go places. I will be unhappy when I reach the point I cannot work, since the ability to work is another kind of freedom. She is in her nineties. She may never need to go to the memory care facility. She could go into a nursing home or die before she goes there. I am not going to try to lock her up until she needs to be locked up.

It takes me more time to be healthy as I age

June 15, 2013

A woman who was more than a dozen years my senior told me that she always understood that she would look old, but didn’t realize she would feel old. I realized I would feel old, but I didn’t realize how much time it takes to be old and stay healthy.

I don’t have the demands on my time as when I was the mother of young children. Also, our better financial situation means that I can pay for things to be done that I used to do myself. Our condo association arranges for the snow to be shoveled. I can buy convenience food or eat out. My husband is retired and does a lot of the shopping.

It takes more and more work to attend to my health. I take more medicine just to stay healthy. Two different doctors have given me a program of exercises they want me to do daily. That comes to more than an hour a day of exercises, if I include my cardiovascular exercise.

My doctor sent me to two different specialists in the past year and my dentist and ophthalmologist each sent me to a specialist. The routine things take longer. One of my fingernails keeps splitting. I have to take care of it. I move slower and tire easier than I did years ago, which means the tasks I do take longer.

Yet, I am healthy. I took only one day of sick leave this past year, and that was the first in years. Today my husband and I took a walk to a Subway restaurant, bought lunch and returned home. The total distance was about three miles. That isn’t impressive, but I’m pleased I can do it in my late sixties. I work full time, which means generous vacations, since I teach at a community college. But I like to teach. I’ll be teaching second session summer school, which is optional.

I suppose too much leisure is not really good for anyone, but I didn’t realize that I would be spending so much time trying to keep healthy.

The Neighborhood Grandfather

September 20, 2012

Mr. Rodman  lived in a yellow house a few doors away from us. I would go to his backyard where he often sat and talk to him. Sometimes I knocked on his door. I don’t remember what we talked about it, except one conversation about keeping squirrels from his bird feeder. He made stilts for most of the children in the neighborhood as well as a few other wooden toys. He had a fancy workshop in his basement with all sorts of power equipment.

Did he ever be too close or make me uncomfortable? Once. He let me use his power sander, insisting I wear goggles. He stood right behind me, which seemed mildly odd at the time. I now know he was ready to keep me from hurting myself. That was literally the closest he ever came to me, and he never touched me.

It was a more innocent time. No one worried about sexual abuse. If he lived today, he would have been a lonely old man, because children wouldn’t have been allowed to visit.

I’m not saying we’ve come too far. It is better that we are aware of possible problems and protect children. But we’ve lost something as well. Today’s children will never know a Mr. Rodman, the man who loved children and had endless patience with them. I can regret the loss, without wishing for change.

Preying on the elderly

March 12, 2011

On her 91st birthday, my mother received a call saying she owed money and should pay it immediately. She did not gather enough information to be certain where she incurred the debt since she hung up on the person when he became offensive, but before she did, she told him to mail her the details. In the week since the phone call, there was no explanation in the mail.

I cannot guarantee that my mother does not owe this money, but it is not for her credit card. I checked. Her medical bills, rent, and utilities are paid for by a trust she set up decades ago. My mother’s memory is poor and she might not remember a debt. She knows this, which explains her phone message, saying she would like to pay it promptly.

I think it was a fraudulent attempt to get money from her. She does too, but still is trying to remember if there was some debt she didn’t pay. They didn’t take her money, but they took some of her peace of mind.

Nicer on the inside

December 31, 2010

My mother, who is 90, has a cluttered apartment. It isn’t exactly messy, but things are out. I was helping her organize, and to my surprise, her drawers are orderly. I always assumed that the hidden space would be less organized than the visible space.

I wish that all of us would be better on the inside than the outside.

They didn’t believe she heard a noise.

September 7, 2010

My ninety-year-old mother lives in a retirement community. She kept hearing noises at night that sounded like machinery, but they didn’t really believe her, because the noise would stop when they answered her complaint. At my suggestion, she bought a recorder and recorded the noise. She still doesn’t know what the noise is, but it mysteriously stopped immediately after she played the recording for them. It does come on during the day sometimes, but it no longer interferes with her sleep.

Am I becoming my mother-in-law?

August 10, 2010

My husband’s parents lived frugally. He worked in a meatpacking plant and she took in sewing, but I have never seen anyone else live so well on so little. They turned their backyard into a huge garden and canned or froze all of their vegetables. What they didn’t use they gave away strategically. When their neighbors went fishing, my in-laws were given fish. The sewing machine repairman serviced her machine for “free.” There was no formal barter system, but the returns were noted.

They were careful of money. They paid off their house early and never used credit cards. Lunches were carried and vacations were often camping. I don’t live that way, but I recently cut up a piece of paper so I could use the back for my shopping list. The other pieces are clipped to the refrigerator for future use. I may not become my mother-in-law, but I am imitating one of her frugal habits.

What if?

July 28, 2010

When my mother moved into the retirement community she now lives in, she did not like her apartment. She stayed there for two weeks and moved into another apartment in the same community. It cost her moving expenses, but she was not sorry she changed her mind, because she loves her apartment now.

Everyone makes major choices in life. I choose marriage and family over a career. I choose to stay home with my children and only worked part time when they were school age. Sometimes we are unaware they are choices until we look back. I met my husband because I choose a to take a certain course in college.

Although I sometimes wonder about the road not taken, I don’t waste my time regretting the decisions I’ve made. Like my mother, I am willing to reexamine things while change is still possible, but when it isn’t, there is no point in worrying about it.

Don’t give blood if you are 90. Part 2

July 14, 2010

My 90 year old mother collapsed and spent two nights in the hospital after giving blood. I called LifeSouth to suggest it was a bad idea to accept donors that are 90. They disagreed. They could not put a maximum age on blood donors because AARP will get mad at them.

They asked what I wanted, and I told them that I wanted to make sure that it will never happen again. Their reaction was to put some kind of flag on my mother’s name so she will be refused if she ever tries to donate blood again. There is no danger of that. Her memory isn’t what it once was, but she will remember this. I was not talking about it not happening again to my mother, but to anyone over 90.

I was  told  they will review their procedures. Sure. They might even spend five minutes doing so, but I’m sure they will continue to hold blood drives in the parking lots of retirement centers because they get more blood that way.

Don’t give blood, if you are 90

July 10, 2010

My 90 year old mother gave blood. Almost immediately after standing up, she collapsed on a nearby couch and was taken away in an ambulance. I am writing this 36 hours later and she is still in the hospital.

Was there an underlying condition that caused her collapse? Possibly, but they haven’t found it yet. I looked at two websites about blood donation and only one had a maximum age of 60. The other gave a minimum age of 17, but no maximum age. It is likely that a typical 16 year old is a better candidate for giving blood than a typical 90 year old.

The blood drive was given at a retirement community. I suspect that a relatively high percent of elderly donate blood. My mother sometimes feels a bit guilty that she is no longer contributing to society, and giving blood is a way of contributing. On the other hand, healthy 60 year olds usually don’t live in retirement communities.

They were speculating that her condition might be caused by dehydration and anemia. There is a simple solution for that: give her back her blood.