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November 27, 2016

[Bumped] The decision of modern man to live in the here and now

is reflected in the neglect of aging parents, whom proper sentiment once kept in positions of honor and authority. There was a time when the elder generation was cherished because it represented the past; now it is avoided and thrust out of sight for the same reason. -- Ideas Have Consequences

Posted by gerardvanderleun at November 27, 2016 2:56 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

"Elderly" means something very different today than what it meant even a generation ago.

Both my grandfathers were born in 1900. One died in 1971, the other in '72. No one at the time thought they had any but a long life, not their widows, not their friends, not their children nor grandchildren.

Today when you learn someone died at age 71, you automatically ask, "Oh my, what happened?"

My generation, the Boomers, is the first in human history that has the generation-wide, rather than occasional, experience of dealing with very aged parents. My wife's father is 97, my dad is 89. Both our mothers died in their late 80s. This was almost unheard of for my parents' parents.

That means, when it comes to dealing with the elderly, we are making it up as we go. We did not learn from watching our parents when we were growing up because our parents buried their parents when they (our parents), were still in their 40s, maybe early 50s. And when their parents died, they died in overall excellent health, except for whatever took their lives. By that I mean my grandparents' generation rarely went through long-term dementia, long-term physical disability, long-term chronic heart disease or other medical condition. My mom's dad was hale, hearty, fully mentally capable, and physically energetic until only four months before he died of Hodgkins Disease.

Now most of my age peers are trying to help truly elderly parents cope with multiple chronic ailments and physical disabilities that only worsen over time. In fact, a lot of retired men and women are taking care of very old parents, at an age when those parents had no such responsibility. And often, may usually, those aged parents are mentally diminished to boot.

Mr. Weaver says, "aging parents [once had] positions of honor and authority... ." Yes, they did. And when they did, they could still remember what they had for breakfast that morning, they could recall their children's names, they could still see and hear well, they were not beset with arthritis (because they did not live long enough for it to set it) and so could still get around on their own - in short they were not almost completely dependent on their children or someone else to take a bath or conduct a bowel movement.

It's not "the past" my generation is thrusting out of sight in dealing with our parents. It is the future, because that's us only a couple of decades hence. And it sucks.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at November 23, 2016 11:54 AM

Avoided and thrust out of sight hell. It's the day before Thanksgiving. My 83 year old wife has spent all day prepping a big feast that most of my six AARP-eligible kids and families will show up for tomorrow. Same on Chirstmas, Easter, July 4, her birthday, my birthday.... In between times they show up for advice, to borrow stuff, to get stuff fixed, to "borrow" money, to go swimming.... Never a dull moment. Maybe we raised 'em wrong.

Posted by: BillH at November 23, 2016 1:19 PM

MY MIL, the last of the big 4, is 84 and still lives in her own house but I can tell she is slipping. I noticed this a few years ago and told my wife that we won't pack her up and ship her off somewhere and try to erase our consciences.

Nope. No way. Though that is exactly what my wife's 2 brothers will prefer to do.

Unh-uh, ain't gonna happen.

I'm a designer so I already have it all figured out.

We'll build on, a mother-in-law cabin. Right next to ours, connected with a covered walkway. She can live as she sees fit but we'll both be close by if she can't. We'll have it no other way and nobody else matters.

See, it ain't about my mother in law. It's about me. Always me. I care. About her and about me. I can't bear a guilty conscience, nor will I.

Besides, I'm pretty selfish. I've known my MIL for more than half my life and there is no way I can turn my back on that. When I committed to my wife in 1984 I took on ALL her baggage.

The only way this won't happen is if I'm not living, but my wife and I made a pact and she will see it through, otherwise her ass is mine on the otherside, and she knows it.

Posted by: ghostsniper at November 23, 2016 2:38 PM

At the end of this month my mother will be 102.

Posted by: Vanderleun at November 23, 2016 2:57 PM

And a very happy birthday to your mother Gerard!

Posted by: Terry at November 23, 2016 5:15 PM

That's sort of amazing. 102.
I've never seen anyone that age, in person, but would like too. 90, yes. 102, no.

Posted by: ghostsniper at November 23, 2016 5:46 PM

102. That's unreal. And the thing is, I've seen a clip of your mom I think when she was around 100 and I swear she seems 25 or 30 years younger. I don't know how she does it. She must have found the fountain of youth. I'm 65 and I feel like I'm wearing out fast. Damn it.

Posted by: D S Craft at November 23, 2016 7:42 PM

I was once a nurse's aid in Malta Montana. I worked at the Good Samaritan Nursing Home and took care of one Miles Henry, who, back in 1980, was 103 years old. His hair was still mostly black. Few people came to visit him. Of his 12 children, all that remained alive, most having died as children, only 3 lived long enough to have children and grandchildren. One day, he was visited by a great grandchild, in her 60s. She told me that there was a book written about him. I believe it. His children died mostly in farming accidents, under the hooves of large horses, killed by wagons, diseases, accidents and wars. Yet he outlived most of them. He was one of the most serene men I'd ever met. Had all his wits about him.

Posted by: Jewel at November 23, 2016 9:29 PM

Today, those under 55± have an obsession with how they look and fear the idea of growing older. Look at the ads for getting your hair back, being slim with the body of a twenty something. If people don't go blind when you smile, you're imperfect.

Having 'old' people around them leaks reality into their fantasy bubble; dealing with that totally violates the 'Safe Place' concept.
Besides, why would you want all that experience around when you already 'know it all'.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at November 24, 2016 1:36 AM

@veedub, remember this'n?


Posted by: ghostsniper at November 24, 2016 4:22 AM

No but at that time I was busy arguing with a bunch of NVA pajamaboys of the error of their ways. Some got the message, some didn't.
After that second tour, I said 'No mas'.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at November 24, 2016 4:50 PM

Up until nine months ago, my health was pretty good. On my last physical checkup with my doc I told him I felt better than I had in ten years. And I did. I was 82 at the time and felt like I was a hearty 65. Three months later I started feeling tired and my heart was racing. Anemia was the cause. A colonoscopy revealed a cancer. Off to surgery. The cancer was removed and no spreading was found. All my lymph nodes were clear. Whew, dodged the bullet!

But I came out of the operation with blurred vision and my heart was still working overtime. I was diagnosed with wet macular degeneration. Treatment is now underway - takes about two years to successfully treat, but my vision has cleared considerably. A cardiologist has been pursuing the cause of my racing heart. Two months of tests and they have no answers. I do take medicine to slow it down and that helps, but a more definitive fix would be nice.

In the meantime, the colon surgery was not properly closed up and I now have an incisional hernia that will require another major surgery.

Welcome to old age! Nine months ago I would have told you I felt like I was 65. Today I feel older, much older.

What happened? I've always been a gym rat, have tried to eat right, never smoked, and have always been mindful of my health. A year ago I had no problems with climbing up on my roof to make repairs or clean gutters. Today I'm very carefully avoiding climbing even a short step ladder. My doctor says to be happy I'm still alive. Well, maybe I should be, but I don't like being as infirm as I now am.

Some years back I bought nursing home insurance. My wife and I didn't think we'd need it, but it was the thought that we didn't want to be a burden on our daughter or family that motivated the act. Since my wife had open heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in June and with my sudden problems, we are very happy we bought that insurance. We didn't ever intend to get old. It just happened, and in our case, rather suddenly.

I had grandparents who lived long lives - three into their late eighties and one who lived to be 100. My parents didn't do that well. My dad died at 46 in an industrial accident and my mother at 79. She was a life long smoker and that undoubtedly contributed to her earlier passing.

I had always heard the aphorism that "old age isn't for sissies." I'm now learning what that means.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at November 25, 2016 10:50 AM

Good luck to you and your wife Jimmy J.

Posted by: ghostsniper at November 25, 2016 11:41 AM

Chin up Jimmy J. I'm a few years older than you and hit a similar brick wall. Keep taking treatment, keep tying to get that racing heart fixed (may be pacemaker time, was for me, racing heart combined with faintness), and make yourself to do as much as you can, and only as much as you can physically.

Posted by: BillH at November 25, 2016 1:19 PM

Ghost, BillH, thanks for the encouragement. One of the nice things about blogs. There are good people hangin' out and saying sensible things.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at November 25, 2016 2:43 PM

Jimmy, I'd guess they dosed you with chemo right after the surgery. That stuff will slow down amoebic dysentery.
This I know because in 2013 they cut me open, put in an illiostomy so I could heal. They thought they got all the cancer; the radiation and chemo was the butt kicker.

2015 I was back on the table for 7 hours while they chased the cancer again. In neither case did it metastasize. Out came that illiostomy along with everything else and I got to pick the position of the colostomy.

Think we got it this time, can't fine anything and the margins are clear. Great.

Today, I'm back on chemo, the bastard is back and after the PET scan they found two small spots in my lung. At last look by the surgeon, he said the tumor is shrinking. Right! At least there won't be more surgery, nothing left to cut.
I'm 73 now will be 74 in a couple of months and going through the chemo. This stuff affects the nephropathy to the point I can't walk for a couple of days after the treatment. Liquids taste like glass shards while drinking. I'll find out about radiation beginning of next month.

Wish you luck, hope they got it all and it doesn't come back. You'll see the doctor more than your family with all the follow-up exams.
You got my sympathy for what you are going through.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at November 26, 2016 9:50 AM

Wow, you guys are going through some amazing stuff, and still posting here the whole time! Makes my little *adventures* seem like chicken feed. I had 2 surgeries this year, one more coming up in the spring. Gettin old blowz. Good luck to all of ya!

Posted by: ghostsniper at November 26, 2016 10:24 AM

V.W., your mountains to climb have made mine seem mere hills. It reminds me of my childhood when I was to have a tonsillectomy. I was scared shitless. But so many other boys in my ward were dealing with serious injuries and cancer. Made my fears seem pathetic.

I have long ago adopted the motto that, in spite of what I may think, the universe is unfolding about as it should. We are all heading for a rendezvous with our maker. The only question is when? As we tread the upward tilting path we have to find our support, and yes, our sense of dignity from wherever it comes. In that way your courage and dignity are an inspiration. All the best to you.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at November 28, 2016 11:07 AM

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