Saturday, May 9, 2009

Think life is tough? Try being old

It's not easy getting old, and it's even harder being old. I watch my mother, now 88, as she struggles to recover from a broken hip and the surgery to replace part of it. Watching her is both heartening and heartbreaking—heartening because she still tries to go forward, to regain some of her independence, heartbreaking because she does so at the cost of her dignity.

At first, she had to be assisted because she couldn't do the simplest tasks. Later she had to be assisted because the fall that took her hip out also stole her self-confidence. She's afraid of falling, with some justification. But she should be more afraid of those who think that just because she's old and very hard of hearing, she has no feelings. Poppycock. Of course she does.

So, caregivers of America, please don't talk to her as though she's a baby. Don't talk about having to change her diaper. (Could just call it a pad instead?) And when she does ask for assistance, please respond. She generally doesn't ask for help unless she needs it because she's of that generation that doesn't ask. So don't stand around the nurse's station laughing and talking about last night's par-tay while she's doing her best to keep her bodily functions at bay.

It may not make one whit of difference to you that you're hurting, not helping one old lady, but wait about 60 years and then you'll know that it matters. It matters a lot. Every day. Remember that.

1 comment:

  1. Your mom is blessed to have family to advocate on her behalf. Think of all the ones who have nobody, who sit in their own waste until the nurses decide to respond and then chide them for making a mess!