Inappropriate language

Mouse ears  Myosotis  Forget-me-not to listen to our every word.

Mouse ears/ Myosotis/ Forget-me-not to listen carefully  to my every word.

I am thinking about ageing; specifically, the inappropriate language we use to describe the ageing process. We speak about decline, deterioration, dementia,  diminishment and loss of dignity. Our words depict a downward spiral, and a negation of being.   We talk of growing old, yet that is only what happens in numerical terms. In reality we grow younger. We become part of a re-creation, a transformation, of our body and mind. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is really not so curious at all.  Most of us will become infant-like towards the end of our earthly life.

My mother spends most of her time in a day chair. She is bone-weary. She finds it hard to accept her ‘re-creation”. She misses her walking and reading, and a clear mind.

In a quiet moment during my recent visit, she said,” Someone said to me,  I think it was Pop, ‘Don’t get old, K….., old age is a bugger’.”  We chuckled wryly about her father-in-law’s statement. In today’s terms, he was not old when he gave his words of wisdom. However, he followed his own advice and died in his early seventies. His stubborn daughter-in-law  took no heed but, now, at 92 is beginning to understand the aches and pains and ennui  that prompted those words.

Yet, despite the undeniable physical discomfort associated with increasing years, my mother’s perspective on age and that of my grandfather are part of a culture that sees age as a disability,  an indignity, a vexation and a condition that requires separation from mainstream society in nursing homes or gated retirement complexes*.

Is it possible to change our perceptions of ageing by changing our language? As does John O’Donohue…

For Old Age

May the light of your soul mind you.
May all your worry and anxiousness about your age
Be transfigured.
……
from John O’Donohue’s ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’.

Without devaluing a long life and the wisdom gained, could we not accept and cherish the re-creation/ transformation we undergo as the years add up?. Can we teach ourselves to look forward to a time when we are as helpless and loved as a new-born baby?  Can we  learn to say to ourselves, ” I am not growing older. I am growing younger by the minute. And I am fine with that.” A tall order!  But not impossible.

Matthew 18: At that time the disciples came to Jesus
and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Although my mother follows the Christian faith, her confidante and special companion for many years has been  the Laughing Buddha. Some years ago she gave me a Laughing Buddha, too. He sits on my table and keeps me company. The Laughing Buddha speaks a universal language. It has no age. It is timeless. Can you hear it in his laughing smile?

 

* As I have said in previous posts, some retirement communities work well for people. They provide security and good living conditions.  However, I still find it odd that we consider it acceptable to ‘corral’ the older members of  our society. We would not, perhaps, accept these types of living situations so easily for other age groups, so why do we readily allow special areas for the elderly? Is it because of the profit that can be made from their perceived need?

© silkannthreades

149 thoughts on “Inappropriate language

  1. Boomdeeadda

    As I attempt to age with grace, I’m reminded that it’s a bit of a double edge sword. Ever conscious of the double chin if be photographed and constantly battling my love of baking -vs-
    the waistline. Still, bottom line, it beats the alternative. As comedian Craig Ferguson says, “this ain’t no dress rehearsal”

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Definitely beats the bottom line, Boomdeeada. And never forget that double chins and luscious curves are part of some of history’s great masterpieces/works of art.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      🙂 There you go, Cindy, putting a big silly grin on my face, with your lovely comment. Thank you. No words required; just keeping posting your beautiful photos and travel tales and I will be happy.

      Reply
  2. LaVagabonde

    Funny to read this today. I’ve been thinking a lot about this same subject over the last few days. My 90 year old grandmother, who has always been so strong-willed and full of faith, is suddenly fed up with the pain and other tests of age.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Julie, there seems to come a point where life suddenly becomes too wearisome. It’s possibly as hard to watch the weariness as it is for the person to experience it. What amazes me is the forbearance of our elderly ones. I had severe back pain for 4 months and I thought the end of the world was nigh, yet my father has had years of pain and, until recently, he carried on regardless.

      Reply
  3. ordinarygood

    I’ve been thinking about the word that describes my “occupation”. I have just updated my Will and on the old one I had myself as “Facilitator” which is what I did in my paid work. In fact it is still what I do in all aspects of my life today…..so that is going to be my “occupation” ! Feel free to use it too!
    I remember a man who did a lot of community work describing his “occupation” as “Citizen at large”….and I quite like that too.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Facilitator sounds perfect. As does citizen at large. Now, of course, you have me wondering what I put on my will. I have a feeling it is the usual ‘home maker’. 😦

      Reply
  4. Letizia

    You are so right, each year is really a gift. Given the alternative. I noticed with my grandparents, that there was a period when being older was a gift (the experiences, the wisdom, the family – despite the aches and pains) and then at a certain point, a burden (when my grandmother suffered from a stroke and then dementia).

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, there seems to be a point where things change very dramatically and it’s hard, then, not to feel a burden or be a burden. My mother worries that she is being a burden and a nuisance. It’s hard to reassure her that she is neither.

      Reply
  5. BEAUTYCALYPSE

    So wise, dear A. This is something that bothers me all the time. Why do we just drag the elderly away? Why are most charities about babies and animals (I do care for both, for the record)?
    Why do we focus on staying “younger looking” instead of learning how to support our bodies throughout the seasons of life?
    Well, this is for sure something I am working on.
    Plus, I don’t want anti-aging. I *want* to age (otherwise I’d want to drop dead now if we’re logical), but I want to keep growing and developing, mentally and physically, with the fragilities that might come.
    Am talking to a psychologist friend about keeping our mind and soul “alive” and protecting it from the wilting, as awaited by the society. Want to write a series about this in fact. So important!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am pleased to have your support on this important subject, Nath and I look forward to your series. I don’t want anti-aging either. That’s a ridiculous concept and amounts to fear-mongering, and there is quite enough fear around growing old as it is. And I certainly don’t want to wilt in my soul, even if my body droops and wilts. Here’s to our future as gracious spirited human beings. 🙂

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yes, that is the best part. The blackcurrants are ones that I froze from last season’s crop. Decided I had better use them up now that I see new blackcurrants forming.

        2. BEAUTYCALYPSE

          I love blackcurrants. However I’m not getting them in a decent quality here 😦 They are either tiny and too tart, or huge and watery. Meeeh.

  6. April

    I have been thinking about this recently. I think if I want to live to be an old timer — at least 100, I need to take care of my body a bit better, and change my way of thinking about ageing in a negative way. I’m actually starting to believe myself–I know I can do it, and it won’t be with a walker or wheelchair.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Finishing what I started | silkannthreades

  8. shoreacres

    This is unrelated, except for the fact that I’m old enough to remember a singing group from around 1965. I just found out, about ten minutes ago, that Judith Durham and the Seekers are from Australia. I didn’t have a clue. Granted, Australia isn’t New Zealand, but it’s pretty darned close. I found some YouTube clips of the group at the Sydney Opera House, and so on. Their music is so happy — like this.

    Reply
  9. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

    Gallivanta, you are right again. I’m convinced the elderly in the US are shoved aside for three reasons: 1) They no longer have a network to help them take care of the tasks they absolutely can no longer do and 2) It’s a massive money making machine but the most shameful one of all is in #3) Let’s get mom and dad someplace where we no longer have to worry about them.
    Two weeks or so when Tom was in the hospital and I was sure he was experiencing delirium, a woman at the table next to where a friend and I were having a quick cup of coffee perked up and said, “Take advantage, I got mom in a nursing home on that criteria alone.” I didn’t want to engage in a conversation with her about delirium and how it’s not the beginning of the end but a normal occurrence in a hospital under certain circumstances.” I don’t think she would have been receptive to anything I had to say.
    This is a terrific article and great food for thought.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Sheri, the lack of a network is a big issue everywhere. There is the well-known proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” and I believe that can be extended to “it takes a village to care for an older person”. But not necessarily a retirement village! How sad that there are people with so little empathy for the sick and the elderly.

      Reply
        1. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

          Gallivanta – I think of the rural areas of Kansas where I grew up and we were 60 miles from nowhere. My closest childhood playmate was 25 miles away so it was a real event to have the opportunity to have an entire day to have together. On the opposite end of the spectrum, growing up in a farming community, I saw over and over how important the total community worked together. It could be the men and their sons helping another farmer get his crops in or vaccinate calves. The same was true when my mother had a serious injury but Dad still had 35 or so hired hands that needed to be fed. The woman of the community gathered together and by noon, a lavish meal was on the table. As I matured and returned home for numerous visits, I felt nurtured that the same people were calling and checking on each other to make sure everyone was okay and often making plans to get together later in the evening. The community living in rural America works hard (as a rule) to keep their communities strong and they take care of one another. Here I am rambling on again but your thought provoking blogs do that to me. Sheri

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          Sheri, those are lovely memories and it’s good to know that the community spirit of rural America lives on. In our rural communities there are similar traditions. In the town where my father grew up, there remains a strong sense of community to this day. One aspect of the town that I admire greatly is that the people support and fund their own small care facility for the elderly. It is a loving caring place which is integral to the rural township.

  10. Alexander Lautsyus

    That subject is too philosophical. In different cultures and countries the relation between generations are dramatically different. This is why on my opinion there is no one way to behave. It depends on the person, on everybody of us. We have to make our own choice how to treat our predecessors.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I do agree that there is no one way to behave. The UN Principles for Older Persons state this clearly, too, ” Older persons should benefit from family and community care and protection in accordance with each society’s system of cultural values.” But, even though our ways/choices may be different, I love that we can connect and exchange ideas and thereby engender (potentially) the best possible ageing scenario for each of us.

      Reply
  11. Sheryl

    I’ve also thought a lot about how older people are perceived. I tend to see elderly people who do really interesting things as role models–but I know that many people don’t look at aging the same way that I do.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I enjoy the company of older people and always have. I hope younger ones will/do enjoy my company too. But, yes, for many ageing is not a positive experience.

      Reply
  12. Mary Mageau

    Yes, we may get slower, but our minds grow sharper. Our physical senses may not be as keen as they once were, but our hearts grow kinder, more forgiving, less judgmental and more loving.
    Perhaps we are not growing older but are growing better in the things that really matter.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I do so hope we are growing better in things that matter. I hope I am a nicer and better person than I once was. However, I do recognise that for some being kinder and more forgiving etc is often hindered by something as basic as insufficient money to pay a winter heating bill.

      Reply
  13. diannegray

    My mother is in an aged care facility and it’s wonderful (thank goodness!) She needs to be there because she is in her mid eighties and was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last year. The cancer cracked the vertebrae in her spine so she finds it very difficult to lift her head. She’s now in remission, but definitely needs full-time care. On the other side of the coin my hubbs family want to place my MiL and FiL in aged care and I am dead against it. They live on the farm where I live and I help out by cooking and cleaning for them. They’ve lived here all their married life and absolutely love the place. I hate the fact that the children (all except for my hubbs) what them to now move into in a home because they’re “elderly” and MiL is showing early signs of dementia. Totally unfair, I say.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thumbs up for another wonderful care facility. So glad you have found good care for your mother. It’s also wonderful that your in laws can remain on the farm near to you. Fingers crossed that it can stay that way. My parents have access to a good homecare package with RSL HomeCare. It wasn’t easy to get; required some severe falls and hospitalization to get any substantial action. Did you realise that across the Cairns Health Board region there are about 70 hospital beds taken up with people waiting for aged care facilities? That is a staggering cost to the health system. http://www.australianageingagenda.com.au/2014/10/10/seninors-stuck-in-hospital-awaiting-aged-care-inquiry-hears/

      Reply
      1. diannegray

        That’s a very interesting article, thanks for putting me on to it. Last month my hubby found our elderly neighbour unconscious in the sugar cane field. Long story, but he is now in hospital waiting for a bed in a nursing home. It’s certainly not easy getting them any kind of help.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Not easy at all. The fact is that even if we wanted our parents to go into a nursing home in Cairns, or they asked to go into a home, there is no place for them to go. 😦 So keep up your good work with your in laws. 🙂

  14. ordinarygood

    I’ve been thinking about your post and wonder what word or words people who are no longer in “paid employment” put on official documents where “occupation” is required. “Retired” has been suggested to me but that word irks me dreadfully. Do I put “writer” because I write a blog? Do I put “craftswoman” for my knitting etc, “gardener”, “genealogist”, “domestic duties”, “household manager”, “photographer”, “bird lover”, “grandmother”, “proof-reader and mentor” and so on.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Lynley, that has to be one of the most obnoxious questions in the entire field of form filling. I never know what to put. On this last trip, through sheer brain fatigue, I wrote housewife. On occasions, instead of retired, I have been tempted to write ‘plain tired’. What about ‘human being’? I suppose statistics are useful but, like many people, I don’t fit into the boxes and options that are given. 😦

      Reply
      1. ordinarygood

        I am glad I am not the only one who feels rebellious over this question….perhaps in the great statistic gathering scheme of things it does not matter a jot! Who would ever try and join up the dots between all the myriad of forms we have to complete. It will be interesting to see if anyone comes up with a great word we can embrace fully!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Judging by the number of times we have to answer the same questions on a multitude of different forms, I am sure no one connects the dots. However, perhaps, somewhere there lies a report in a Government department which tells us that NZ plumbers take more 7 day holidays to Outer Mongolia than taxi drivers. 😀

  15. Clanmother

    A wonderful post and discussion. A couple of years ago, I read Composing a Further Life by Mary Catherine Bateson. (daughter of Margaret Mead). We are living longer and having, on average, better health. That presents us with opportunities to explore new options. The problem that we face however, is that we have difficulty leaving the life that we had in the past. We do not have the strength of youth, but we have the strength of experience. It is how we use this experience. Growing old is not for the faint of heart, but it is a privilege that is denied many. I think that you will like this quote:

    “… as we age we have not only to readdress earlier developmental crises but also somehow to find the way to three affirmations that may seem to conflict. … We have to affirm our own life. We have to affirm our own death. And we have to affirm love, both given and received. [p. 88]”
    ― Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Not for the faint of heart or those with weak knees, the heart and knees being the very parts of us which actually wear out exactly when we need their strength the most. 😉 I do recall that you referenced this book for me once before and it is lovely to be reminded of it. I am noticing this time, the word affirm and in particular the very challenging, ‘ affirm our own death’. I think I am managing acceptance which is several degrees below the action of affirm. This poems speaks to me of affirmation.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I might even be naughty and include the Government in that money-making role. 😉 It is sad and I feel particularly sad when I see our All Blacks so heavily invested in the profiteering side of aged care. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11325559 Perhaps they see it as doing a good service to the country. Maybe one day, they will indulge in philanthropy and set up free homes or free home based care with their profits. We can hope. 🙂 The Govt of course is happy with this set up because it helps relieve them of the responsibility of providing for the elderly and presumably adds to the tax base at some point.

      Reply
  16. kazacrafty

    I agree there are negative words but also positive words associated with aging, at least in the UK,we talk about “gracefully”, “dignity”. I agree proper care of the elderly is expensive and rarely done well but when it is, it’s beautiful.I had a patient who had a brain injury, his wife decided they could no longer live independently and she could not live without him. There wad a fantastic home in the city i worked run by and for the Jewish community. The couple lived together, able to still share the same bed, they had a little flat with 2 rooms and a little kitchen area, he had full time nursing care but they had their privacy and independence.when children and grandchildren visited, the garden around which all the living accommodation was built was fully visible from their website so they could watch the children play. The home also could take patients with severe mental health disabilities. For me this was dignified and responding to human needs. I’m Catholic, it was sad that only Jewish patients could be referred, I hope the lesions lessened from this home can spread.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That sounds wonderful and I am pleased to hear of an example of good quality care. Our churches used to own and operate elder care facilities but now most of these “homes” are run by profit making commercial enterprises. That doesn’t necessarily equal ‘bad’, just as church doesn’t always equal ‘good’, but I am sure there are better ways to provide care, such as your example. I am encouraged that you are hearing positive language around ageing. I have also seen a wonderful small nursing home owned and operated by a small township community. I would happily go there.

      Reply
  17. utesmile

    Well my mum now 88 said don’t get over 80 that is when it starts…. and then she says in her mind she still feels in her 60s…. Nobody knows what is coming for us in the future and we all hope for the best. … I do love that laughing Buddha! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      And sometimes I am sure your mother feels as though she is 16. Each individual has their own path. My parents were very active until they reached their nineties but their aches and pains started much earlier. I am glad you love the laughing Buddha. I gave him a little pat from you. 🙂

      Reply
  18. shoreacres

    I must say… the forces attempting to infantilize citizens (especially women) in this country makes me predisposed to very much dislike transferring the concept to our elders, too. On the other hand, there’s no question that, as my mother aged, our roles reversed: she becoming dependent as a child, me becoming the one doing the parenting. More than a few times, I coped by reminding myself, “I’m the adult in this room.”

    Where we’re in absolute agreement is on the matter of isolating the elderly in so-called “homes” which have very little to do with any real sense of home. Some are wonderful. Most are not. Mom was able to stay in her own home until the last five weeks of her life, thanks to the utility she liked to refer to as “hot and cold running daughter.” It wasn’t always easy, although the situation did give rise to more than a few stories that were quite funny in retrospect.

    At one point, she landed in a joint where the first item on the agenda was dosing every new resident with Haldol, to help keep them quiet and malleable. When she seemed to have acquired severe dementia overnight, I began asking questions, and eventually was tipped off by a nurse. Since I had medical power of attorney, I had the right to get her off the psychotropic drugs, and lo! her mind cleared as if by magic. That sort of thing is what made me swear that, no matter what, she was not going into an institution. And she didn’t, until the time had come for saying goodbye to life, at last.

    Sometimes I wonder what will happen to me. There’s no family to speak of, and my friends already are beginning to disappear, one by one. I don’t have the financial resources to even purchase long-term care insurance, so the only solution I see is to keep myself healthy and compos mentis as long as I can. After that? Who knows? That’s the point where I get all Scarlett O’Hara-ish and say, “Fiddle-dee-dee. I’ll worry about that tomorrow.”

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Nothing wrong with a good Fiddle-dee-dee. More beneficial than Haldol, no doubt. My grandmother was able to live independently in her own home until just a few months before her death. With a little input from friends and family and community many of us should be able to do the same if that is our wish. The trouble, of course, as you rightly point out, is when friends and family are in short supply! Here’s an interesting solution; service dogs. Almost as good as a 'hot and cold running daughter'. :D

      Reply
  19. Poetsmith

    Your positive language and thoughts are an eye-opener for many people. Health issues are very delicate and sensitive and of course ageing is a global issue. Besides government funding and family circumstances, there is also the reality of younger people out in the workforce resulting in fewer possible carers in the home. I agree that the elderly should be treated with respect and dignity, and wherever possible, to be given a choice to remain in their own home and given opportunities to remain as active and happy as possible. Thank you for sharing your views. Best wishes to you and your family. 🙂 Love, Iris.

    Reply
  20. Cynthia Reyes

    There you go again — with another totally refreshing and relevant perspective, making me nod in agreement, and thinking about the subject. What a great idea.

    We do indeed use quite negative language to describe the things we fear – disability, aging, helplessness, dying.
    You’re asking us to shift how we think about aging – and if we can do as you suggest, then perhaps the language will follow . Or vice versa. Thanks for this.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you for your understanding of my slightly quirky ways. I am sure you appreciate that I am not trying to deny the truth of pain and discomfort and fear, but simply trying to find a way to acknowledge them with a more positive spirit than is the norm.

      Reply
  21. Juliet

    Gallivanta, this is such a thoughtful and pertinent post. I totally agree that changing our language is important as we age, and you give some really good examples. When I get back to town and am on broadband again, I’d like to put the link to this post on my Facebook Books page as I’m sure the readers of ‘Spirited Ageing’ will appreciate it a lot, and relate to what you are saying.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That would be wonderful Juliet. I realized as I was writing this that I was channelling some of the ideas I picked up from your valuable and insightful, Spirited Ageing.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Thank you Juliet. I have so many lovely comments on this post which I have yet to moderate. Do come back if you have time. People are so thoughtful in their responses.

  22. Wendy Macdonald

    I love the forget-me-not picture and the verse you quoted to go along with your wise words. Whatever we lose physically with age can be more than made up for if our spirit has been gaining ground.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

    Reply
  23. Marylin Warner

    You and I share the same interpretation about Benjamin Button, and also many of the references to aging. Recently, on one of my visits to see my mother, I recognized an elderly man sitting along in the reading room. I thought he looked familiar, and it turned out he had been my 9th grade civics teacher 41-years ago. We had a nice long visit and then I pushed his wheelchair down to the coffee bar and bought him a Pumpkin Spice Latte as thanks for being a wonderful teacher. He began to cry. His children and grandchildren live nearby and visit occasionally, and though they love him, they were never in his classes and saw how he taught.
    He wanted desperately to be remembered for what he’d accomplished, and the difference he’d made in the lives of his students.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      What a lovely meet-up for both of you. My parents love connecting with people from their early years but there are so very few of their peer group left now for those meet-ups. Not being able to share memories gets lonely. Your teacher would be proud to see what a wonderful citizen you are. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Do join me, Sheryl. This morning my mantra was “Another day growing younger!” 😀 It could also be “another day growing stronger and bolder.” Lots of possibilities.

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  24. Mrs. P

    I like this perspective. As I sit here with my father as he teeters on the edge of his rebirth, I can only hope he feels that encouragement…for your words certainly have given me comfort.

    Reply
  25. Lavinia Ross

    Old age, barring illness or accident, is the last and most difficult challenge we will ever face in our lives. How well we ascend that mountain depends on many factors – our genetics, our personalities, relationships forged with family, friends and our community throughout our lives. We are all like books in progress, some chapters already written, the ending still unfolding. Perhaps it will be a complete surprise. The focus on what is important shifts like desert sand with age and circumstance, marking our season in time. The clock now runs forwards, and backwards. Days seem to pass with increasing rapidity, while we note from year to year the things that are harder and require more effort to do. Eventually, should we journey long enough, comes the inevitable return to the cradle and inability to care for ourselves. There is no descent from this mountain, only the door to Eternity at the peak. What will we want our legacy to be? Will we leave the World a better place than we found it?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      This is a comment to treasure. I haven’t replied till now because I have been reading and rereading it, taking in all your thoughtful words and ideas. I am positive that you will leave the world a better place than you found it; I would like to as well but I am not as positive about my contribution.It needs more work. 🙂 Old age is certainly a huge challenge no matter what language or words we use to make the most of the experience. I am glad I have your company on this journey.

      Reply
      1. Lavinia Ross

        You will also leave the world a better place. Each in our own way. 🙂 We take care of Rick’s mother, who is 93, in our home. It is a lot of work, but well worth the effort. She has her own cat, a chair on the porch for sunning, she’s clean, has good food, and lots of love. She knows she is one of the lucky ones.

        Reply
  26. Britt Skrabanek

    I agree that aging is seen in a ridiculous light in our society. Heck, even turning 40 for some people is an excuse to whine that life is over. It drives me nuts!

    My grandmother, who passed away a few years back at home, was a feisty thing all the way up to the end. She worked as an Avon saleswoman well up into her 70’s because she enjoyed staying busy and socializing with people. She also stayed active as long as she could. Keeping our minds and bodies active keeps us young, so that is all very important. But, we as a society, really need to change ageism around.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      You know when I made to feel really old…..when I am driving along in my usual sedate manner in my little gray car and I get hooted at by aggro male drivers (and sometimes younger females) because I don’t whip through intersections or round corners fast enough for their liking. The ageist assumption is that little car and gray hair female equals stupid ancient person. That drives me NUTS. That’s probably ageism and sexism, all in one!

      Reply
  27. Aussie Emjay

    I think nothing “ages” elders more than corralling them together. We need youngsters amongst us to keep us from growing “old”. There is so much lore that the young could learn from the older people around us.

    Reply
  28. Steve Schwartzman

    My wife works at a nursing home here in Austin, but in her home country of the Philippines that kind of arrangement is quite uncommon. For one thing, almost no Filipino family could afford it. For another, there’s a long tradition there of having three or even four generation living in the same house. It’s just assumed that an elderly person can live with a younger relative.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      My family and I are deeply grateful to workers such as your wife. My parents live with my sister and they have a team of home care workers (Government funded) who come in each day to help with basic care. They are marvelous. In New Zealand where I live, we have just re-elected a Government which has a stated policy of not increasing the wages of care workers. Almost all the other parties said that, if elected, they would increase wages for care workers and give them better working conditions. I guess for most people it isn’t a big issue, which makes me sad.

      Reply
  29. restlessjo

    I’m pretty sure I’ll have a struggle seeing it in those terms, Ann. I’m more of a mind to squeeze out as much enjoyment as I can before lapsing into senility. But that’s very cruel for my surviving family. I do worry for Dad as I watch his increasing struggles- helplessly.
    On a cheerier note- those flowers are beautiful, and I don’t mind a chuckle with the Buddha. Thanks for making us think.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      There are definitely struggles, Jo, and perhaps some of them are too large and difficult for even the sweetest of words to transform but I would like to think it’s worth a try. I am glad we can both enjoy a chuckle with the Laughing Buddha. He’s ever cheerful. Does your father still live independently?

      Reply
  30. vsperry

    I would agree on the unnatural process of “hiding the elderly”. It does seem horrible that it is a for profit thing, however, it is easier to take care of the needs of the elderly in one place. I have been wondering if there could be a way to “hide” them in plain sight…i.e. have a floor in an apartment complex that is set up for aging or building a home in the middle of a village and not on the outskirts where they must take a bus just to go to the store.
    I am not sure that I can come to terms with changing my mindset on growing older/younger though. It would be a “herculean” task for me.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It’s probably a herculean task for me to change my mindset but I am giving it a go. 😀 I am sure there are lots of innovative ways we can care for our elderly. Unfortunately what is possible, and what is not, usually comes down to how much money is available. 😦 One way to make a difference is to ensure that our homes are built to universal design principles so that we can be safe and secure in our homes for as long as possible.

      Reply
  31. quarteracrelifestyle

    I know what you mean here. My grandmother died at 97 and was the youngest 97 year old you could ever meet…she was mischievous, had a great sparkle in her eye and never did think of herself as old. My mother also didn’t think of herself as growing old, though she suffered alot of ill health in her later years she refused to acknowledge she had anything but many years left in her, but passed away last year at 86. My father died at 67 and sorely resented his aging.

    Reply
  32. Tiny

    I’ve never used those terms…dislike them. At a luncheon last week, I met a young lady of 90. She looked great, was in good spirits and we had an interesting discussion at the table about life. Her perspectives were truly inspiring!

    Reply
  33. LucyJartz

    I think you would like “Musings with Marnie” or “Gilead’s Balm” from Marnie Wells, a dear Christian friend who is caring for her mother with alzheimers while raising a rather large family and sharing her precious moments. I find her insights meaningful and real, yet also uplifting.

    Blog and email signups: http://comeinandrest.us3.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=41c427b53e7e792b1d87a5d6d&id=d18f76694c

    on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gileads-Balm/119206944801733

    Reply
  34. LucyJartz

    Since you brought up aging, I will share one of my experiences from my job at a funeral home. Most of our burials are the very old, as it should be. Recently, we had a funeral for a woman over 100 years old, and there was no picture made, not even in her 70s, and no biography written – which seemed very sad to me. Though I searched, I could not find out much about her long life to share with the few who came to honor her (for even her children and grandchildren were old, and most had preceded her). I think retirement homes and hospices should regularly ask, “What do you want people to remember about you?” They should record the answers on tape, and in writing, and share them at the funeral.

    Just my opinion, as I research families to fill their register book with valuable ancestry information, the stories are what is most often missing.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I just deleted my response to you; so let’s start again! Hospices and retirement places do take histories but they are not used at funerals, I suppose because of confidentiality issues. And it is very sad when a person comes to the end of life and there is no one to tell the stories. Often times at a funeral, everything is such a rush of grief and emotion, that even those who know the stories temporarily forget them. 😦 At the recent funeral of my father’s cousin I was impressed that the Returned Services Association sent a representative to give an account of his war service. He was only in the army for a few years but that war service is still honoured. It would be a good idea if we were more pro-active about recording stories specifically for later use. If my blog survives there will be lots of stories about me. 😀

      Reply
      1. LucyJartz

        That is an awesome thought. I love meeting you through your blog.

        Our funeral home offers pre-planning services, so it is less stressful later on. Sometimes people come in with a prepaid that their relatives purchased 50 years ago, and paid a tiny fraction of what it costs today, but everything is covered by the contract except the county and cemetery fees and whatever it costs for an obit at the paper they choose. Amazing really.

        Reply
  35. KerryCan

    As always, you write in such thought-provoking ways. I think we, those who growing older, could feel better about aging if there were any hope that we would be “loved as a new-born baby” is. But, really, that is not likely. In our growing helplessness, we are too aware of becoming a burden on loved ones or, perhaps worse, of having no younger loved ones on whom to become a burden. Our world is not easy on the aged.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Kerry, it really is likely that many of us will not have younger loved ones to assist us in later life. My sister in law suggested, a little tongue in cheek, that we group together and buy our own retirement house for siblings and spouses. Rather a good idea to manage our own retirement community! However, there are issues such as we don’t all live in the same country…..but, that said, we will need to be inventive to ensure our future care, of that I am sure.

      Reply
  36. Mary

    Nice to see you, this is a beautiful and bittersweet post. My parents are at this stage and it’s a wonder how quickly it approached, you see it happening and yet the full impact didn’t quite register until this year. What to do at retirement, my husband and I are at this stage – I imagine next year at this time things will be different for us. We’ll see ~

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The time does suddenly leap upon us. I remember saying to my parents when they reached their 80s that they probably had about 10 more good years ahead of them, and to make sure they did everything they still wanted to do within those next 10 years. And that I would help them to do so if they needed my help. Mostly, they heeded my advice. Now, I find it is time for me to listen to that same advice. Hopefully I have more than 10 years but one never knows.

      Reply
  37. ruthrawls

    I have only skimmed your post this morning, but plan to go back for a deeper read and review. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  38. womanseyeview

    Missed your posts but so glad you had a lovely family visit! You always write so gently and it’s sometimes easy to miss the radical thought within. I’m not sure I agree with the joy of becoming more childlike but you’ve really made me think…as you so often do. However as we age the constant pushing of for-profit retirement communities, trying to make seniors feel financially and physically insecure and talking about older persons being a drain on society (medically and because of state pensions) does get a bit wearing!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am not entirely sure either but I like to consider things from different angles. 🙂 But I am sure that I dislike the profiteering off retirement communities; a cooperative based community would surely be fairer and might ensure better wages for the carers. And the elderly should be considered a “gain’ not a ‘drain’ on our society.

      Reply
  39. Joanne Jamis Cain

    Good morning from the USA! It is nice to wake up to a post that not only feeds me spiritually but give me additional food for thought.
    On purpose, we are keeping my mother out of any assisted living or nursing home. She simply doesn’t want to go and she is (thankfully) healthy enough to still be on her own at 85.
    My thoughts on aging lately are – I should have been more understanding of aging aunts, uncles, grandparents seeing now what age brings on. The things I made fun of (sagging arms, etc) are now happening to me and it’s a humbling experience.
    Thanks for the beautiful quotes, especially Jesus’- he is just so profound.
    xo Joanne

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      What a lovely morning greeting! Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. My parents, like your mother, don’t want to go into a nursing home. Their parents didn’t and neither did most of the other elderly family members. They belong to that time/generation when everyone took care of the older ones at home. There weren’t many acceptable, or financially viable, alternatives. It’s wonderful that you are able to support your mother in her wish to remain at home. When she was ill I remember you made some lifestyle choices so you could offer her more assistance.

      Reply
  40. YellowCable

    I have to admit that it is extremely hard to accept “I am not growing older. I am growing younger by the minute. And I am fine with that.” That is very very tall order. But resisting the process adds even more trouble. I need to take the language from your Laughing Buddha (I hear him). (… Could I not resist just a little bit ? 🙂 …)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is a tall order, YC. But I feel that we would value the ageing process more if we saw it as a transformation rather than a decline. My Laughing Buddha is wise beyond words. 🙂

      Reply
  41. gpcox

    Although we have for ages behaved so rudely to our elders, I think it has become worse with the ever-increasing population, age longevity increasing and medical advancements and costs. We should revere our elders and try to learn as much as we can in what time we have left with them – but we’re usually too busy.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      We are often too busy, GP, and I am as guilty of that as anyone. But I do enjoy talking and being with all age groups whenever I can. People are so very interesting.

      Reply

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