At our visit a few weeks ago, this amazing, vibrant woman looked beaten as she deals with physical illness and worse, emotional loneliness. She still has family near by and in fact even lives with one of her daughters, yet she’s experiencing devastating loneliness. She’s the last living of all her siblings…..all eighteen of them! Yes, you read right. Her mother gave birth to twelve and one set of six was inherited when her mother who outlived three husbands remarried one of those three! She feels alone and separated, with the deaths of her siblings.
Another woman I loved very much, my mother-in-law, suffered from Alzheimers. It was awful watching this debilitating disease steal my mother-in-law’s mind. She, like my aunt, was also an amazingly vibrant woman. But when this disease moved in, she changed into a woman who lived her life vicariously through “her programs,” the game shows in the morning and then the soap operas that came on each afternoon, until she reached the stage of not being able to cope with the world around her in any normal fashion. I was devastated the day we moved her to a nursing home because we were, as a family, unable to properly care for her any longer. The disease caused her to become aggressive and argumentative and was unwilling to take medicine or respond to everyday situations.
Dementia is yet another villain stealing our elderly. One well-known man in our neighborhood actually laid down in the road to nap without understanding what he was doing. (Thankfully he was rescued and not harmed.) Arthritis and osteoporosis robs victims of their ability to stand and move freely, while falls cause broken hips and shoulders that are determined to not heal quickly, causing isolation and loneliness, much like my aunt is experiencing now.
I’m no different than anyone else. I’m not crazy about “growing older.” But the reality of life is, we age every day. It’s what we do with our lives, every single day, while we still are able, that makes a difference. Yes, age absolutely does change things. And while the changes can be frustrating and debilitating, we have much to offer those around us as we reach what is sometimes known as our “golden years!”
The garden of life is forever changing from early Spring, to Summer, then late Fall and finally Winter. Some say our “golden years” aren’t golden at all and perhaps that is true when we consider all the health issues that seem to “dump” on us as we cross those 50, 60 and 70 year milestones. So I challenge you to be as productive, in as many creative ways as you can, while you still can! Use your unique talents and abilities to enjoy your life, and make other’s lives as happy and fulfilled as only you can do, and you’ll be happier for it and truly make your "golden years," golden!