Aging With Grace

Aging Gracefully Is Not Always Easy

Aging gracefully is not always easy if you’re ill or incapacitated in some way. It’s hard to keep a smile on your face when your body doesn’t function well or you can’t remember your grandchild’s name.

Since I have been helping to take care of my aging mother, I have begun to question this business of  “growing old” and living to the age of Methuselah.  Among many variables, medical science has done much to increase the expectancy of human life.  Most people will live well into there eighties and life expectancy is increasing all the time.  That’s all well and good… unless you are ill or incapacitated in some way.

For instance… what good does it do to have a body that functions but have a mind that can’t remember one thing from the other. The older you get…. the greater the chances you will have some form of dementia… especially if you live into your eighties.

Alzheimer’s, the severest form of dementia, is increasing every year. Between 2010 and 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s will increase from an estimated 5.5 million up to 14 million, as the Baby Boomers enter the age of highest risk.

When our elderly get sick, we rush them to the Dr. and load them up with medication that will extend their life well beyond the body’s natural ability to survive.  Sometimes I think the only real winner here is the drug companies.  One elderly lady in our local rest home put it this way,  “Medical science has keep us alive until go into a rest home where… we just rot away.”

Laws often bind doctors, hospitals and nursing homes into keeping a patient alive even under the most adverse conditions… often beyond patient and family wishes. When is enough… enough?

My mom is 88 years old and, up until this past year she has had very good health and a pretty good mind despite the fact she sometimes loses her purse.  Early last spring she contacted the flu and not only lost her physical health… but lost her ability to think clearly.  She is now confused most of the time.  She went from being independent to needing almost around the clock care in a matter of a few days.

Just as she was beginning to improve, she contacted a bacterium that has taken a toll on her body again.  We’ve loaded her up with all sorts of vitamins, antibiotics and the like… and for what?  She’s weak, miserable and confused…. and we are undertaking around the clock care again.  She will never recuperate to the point she was, even a month ago.

I know… I can just hear it now.  “God is in charge… and he will take her when he’s ready.” But, perhaps He’s saying, “Hey, butt out and quit cramming all that stuff down her and let me do my job.” We just need to listen.

What’s the alternative for her and for us?  Home health care?  Rest home?  Do we continue family care?  When can she say, “Enough is enough?”  When can we say, “Enough is enough,” without legal consequences?

Upon some investigation, we found that an individual does have a right to say, “I’m done!” and stop all medical intervention.  There’s a little legal document that’s called, Advance Health Care Directive.  This document is separate from a Living Will or can be a part of a Living Will.  It’s a directive that you can detail as to what medical care you wish to have withheld… in the event that you become incapacitated.

It covers everything from withholding artificially supplied nutrition and hydration to food and water.  It can include withholding surgery procedures, CPR, antibiotics, dialysis, respirators, chemotherapy, radiation, medication and all other life prolonging procedures.

It’s the best way to make your medical and health care wishes known to your family and doctors.

Each state has it’s own requirements, and restrictions. You need to follow the guidelines provided by your state.

In looking into my mom’s trust, we discovered that she had stated and signed such a directive in 1995… we just became aware of it.  It will make it easier for us to make decisions on her behalf.

We want what’s best for our mom.  And, now comes the big question… when is “Enough… Enough?

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Baby boomers are now the caretakers of this older generation.  Except for medical procedures, home health care in not covered by Medicare… so companionship, household duties, dressing, feeding and companionship are the responsibility of the family… unless you can afford to put your loved one in a care facility.

Aging With Grace

Aging With Grace

Aging With Grace” could be the motto for my mother and her friend, Mavis. Their anti aging formula of “Keep On Trucking,” has certainly worked for this pair of elderly women. Evelyn, my mom, is 88 years old and Mavis is 89 and, they’re still going strong.

Mom’s kept her youth by adhering to healthy eating practices, vitamins, (no drugs) and exercise. She walks at our local mall several times a week. You might say she believes in “healthy aging.”

(However…. even though she passed her drivers test a couple of months ago… her driving is a bit scary. “Who is that darn little white haired lady straining to see over the steering wheel… going 15 miles an hour?) Mom?

Mavis has some health problems…but that doesn’t keep this 89 year old woman from putting in time furthering her “career.” She still stands on her crippled and swollen feet… cuts, perms, colors, and sets hair for her friends…. for those… of course… who are not in rest homes or dead. (When they die… she provides her final service and magic touch at the mortuary… and it’s on the house!)

Mavis has been doing my mom’s hair for over sixty years. Mom started during the “dark ages” when a wash and set was $.50. Today was no exception. I drove Mom to her hair appointment for a cut, color and perm… and she paid a “dark age” price of $15.00 for her new dooo. Unheard of!

The fact we had to get Mavis out of bed because she had forgotten and… it took her one hour to dress and… she couldn’t find her hearing aid and… it took her 6 hours to cut and perm Mom’s hair… is perhaps…an indication she’s aging a bit.

If the truth be know… I believe Mom might be her only customer… as several gals just entered homes for the aging to live out their “twilight years.

Oh my gosh… the salon! I don’t believe the salon even begins to meet county or city standards for a home business… not by any stretch of imagination. Her mirror is covered with hundreds of photos of friends and family that must date back to the depression. And, I believe every small memento and gift she’s ever received, since she put out her shingle over 65 years ago, still adorns her workstation. Clutter… oh my gosh!

And… who am I to criticize? These two women can teach me a few things about “Aging With Grace.” They love, support and serve each other… Mavis still does a great job with Mom’s hair… and Mom is still willing to sit for 6 hours and listen to Mavis talk.

I’m not too far behind these aging women… I can only hope I do as well. And clutter… you should just check out my basement.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. Would you believe it if I told you… Mavis has not a gray hair in her head. No dye… no rinse… and no lie? Now… if that’s not aging gracefully… I don’t know what is.

P.P.S. Now if we can just keep my mother from repeating the same story over and over again. “By the way… have I ever told you about….”