Science & Medicine

Arch’s Corner — (March)

I have learned something from almost every article and comment that I’ve read here. The same with posts to MPN lists elsewhere. Many times I’ve missed the kernel on first scan and on a more careful ‘reread’ I understood what was really being said (excepting some research speak).

All too often I responded quickly and foolishly without reading carefully. Usually there is as much or more said between the lines as on them and sometimes it’s about our losses.

Our MPN posts are like a two way street. We give something and expect
to get something in return. We post in order to fill many different
needs and expectations. Some posts are to soften a loss. There’s a
similarity of loss with the disabled or retired regardless of the
vocation and station in life they left behind, whether due to age,
disability, sickness or finances or being voted out of office.

Regardless of individual situations the so-called golden years are usually tarnished with losses. Financial security helps to extinguish the fading embers of our losses, but doesn’t quench them –financialinsecurity just adds a double whammy. We each suffer different lossesof course, but a major one in our retirement or disabled years is loss of self esteem as we are forced to accept a diminishing change from
meeting the needs of others to having our needs met by others.

I once played semi-pro baseball and single handed a 30 ft. sloop, now spinal stenosis and diabetic neuropathy plus the wear and tear of 90+ active years won’t let me stand or walk for five minutes without sitting down. I once had a thriving practice, now I sit and wait and wait interminably in someone else’s waiting room.

In our final years or with an overwhelming disability when the gold
has worn off our lives and only the base metal remains, transitioning
from eating steak and enjoying wine to swallowing mush and ‘blue-john’
has no savor. I’ve seen many very old, very weak people in some of the
best nursing homes slowly starving due to their meals consisting of
gruel served with a turkey baster or left on the bedside table uneaten
during their four hour waking days, before their twenty hour ‘nights’
of zonked out sedation that makes life easier for the staff.

Pay attention to them spiritually as well as physically. Relieve their
pain with loving care, not just morphine. Get them out of bed and out
and about instead of tied into a chair to slip under the straps all
crumpled up and sprawled on the floor (did I mention that exercise
isn’t just for the young and vigorous anymore).

Give them something to do and think about. Fix their failed vision and inadequate dentition, provide them with something to read that interests them and try meat and vegetables that are identifiable as such instead of pureed mystery mash. Don’t forget the joys and rejuvinations of petting animals and watching children.

Touching even hugging isn’t infectious. You won’t catch despair, pain or bed ridden disability from treating those at the other end’ of life with a large dose of love and an infusion of respect as a worthy adult. Talk to them as one adult to another.

Easy for me to say, but you might be surprised.

We all know and want to deny that if we live long enough, loss  is
inevitable and these losses can never be recovered. The finality is
the worst of it yet we humans yearn to retain or return to our past
glories. The elderly, retired or disabled try to compensate for their
lost dignity and self worth by many devices.

Witness the many retirees on volunteer boards, commissions, blogs, advocacy lists and club offices with their insecure grasping for lost respect disguised by posturing self importance, recounting of past positions and strict enforcing of Robert’s Rules of order.

Need I mention the determined guarding of MPN list multiple rules and regulations imposed or made a requirement for belonging.. Yes, it’s quite true that retiree volunteers serve a purpose and meet a need, but it’s the same two way street of giving something and expecting to get something in return. All too often the exchange is unbalanced and the equation favors the giving over the getting. If the younger and more vigorous seem to do all the giving and receive little in return, I suggest that they reread the posts of the old, sick and disabled very carefully before answering.

Maybe put on their shoes and shuffle in them slowly and painfully for a while before answering.

Best, Arch

Take me back to the Contents

© Dr. Arch M. and MPNforum.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dr. Arch M. and MPNforum.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Comments on: "Arch’s Corner — (March)" (4)

  1. Kathy Van Meter said:

    The most humbling experience of my career was as a social worker in an Alzheimer’s facility. Activities were few and far between. Attention was most often paid in the form of feeding. I had to train as a CNA in order to assist with feeding, an activity that “management” didn’t want me to do, too many other responsibilities for the only social worker; paperwork rules. I attended a seminar on Alzheimer’s seeking any kind of activity that would provide stimulation/pleasure and was blessed to meet an activities director who suggested folding clothes. I don’t particularly enjoy it (the whole 7 kids thing) but figured I had nothing to lose. We started with towels and moved on to kids’ clothes. It was absolutely amazing! Folks who had done nothing but sit and stare, those hard to feed folded away. Some actually spoke a word or two. I now volunteer as a pastoral counselor and am so grateful for the time I have with my friends. Thank you, Arch, for consistently putting life in perspective. Peace………….Kathy

  2. Negativity seems the biggest obstacle faced by so many of us tarnished by old age. ‘Can’t’ finds its place in all the mantras I hear on a regular basis as I attempt to encourage the use of positive thinking and exercise – Arch, come and be my co-tutor on next week’s session. You definitely have the gift ….!

  3. Barbara Kurtz said:

    I couldn’t have said it better, probably because you have a few years on me that adds to your wisdom. And you are thoughtful.

    I have always admired the fact that most people as they age continue to persevere. The mere fact that they have survived a life is sometimes astonishing.

  4. So very true – it has been stated, “growing older is not for sissies”.

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