Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Facing Reality

It didn't exactly come as a surprise, but one of the features of senior living that I hadn't devoted much thought to is the frequency of loss among this age group. In the year since I've moved in, a few residents of Independent Living have been moved to assisted living or nursing care, and two or three others have died.

None of these people have been close friends; it's just that a semi-familiar face (in one case, a man I've worked with on a resident committee) simply disappears, and is soon mentioned in an administrative publication.

In addition to those cases, the number of people transported to the hospital after falls or other disasters is and always has been impressive. I've signed a lot of get-well cards.

Somehow, when I lived among the younger, such things seldom came to my attention. It's sad but rather different when I hear that some old acquaintance across the country has died. That somehow seems less shocking and more understandable. Of course the main shock comes when a much younger person dies. One of my younger cousins died recently of cancer, but that wasn't entirely unexpected.

Here at The Clare, many residents are in their eighties and nineties (the oldest is over 100). We 70-somethings are getting a lesson on what it means to grow old. Some residents are remarkably active, regardless of age, while some seem to gradually fade away. For some, the deterioration is obvious; for others, all seems well.

All this is a bit hard to handle. All I can do is resolve to stay as active as possible (although my main activity of writing and editing is a rather sedentery one) and remain optimistic. If I live as long as my mother did, I'll have eighteen years left, but If I had followed my father's pattern, I would have died seven years ago. I know which I prefer, but the choice is not really mine.

At any rate, I'm learning to face reality without becoming depressed. I guess that's one of the realities of senior living.

3 comments:

musing said...

Hi
I'm new to this blogging stuff and learning all the tme.
You have a great site.
The George Elliot quote caught my imagination and, provided George doesn't mind, I will keep it close to my heart.
Ste

Nancy said...

At 78, I am having losses too. Perhaps worse than death is the terrible physical diminishment that many (including my husband) have. Adjusting to a life with vastly limited possibilities,and vastly increased pain, seems terribly hard.

Lydia said...

My husband's step-grandmother lived in a senior living building in Portland, Oregon. It had a nursing floor as a part of the package, and when she ultimately found herself there she told me that she thought she could "beat this stage." I know that all the deaths in her building must have gotten to her on some level but she seemed rather closed emotionally after living there for some years.

I'm glad you aren't depressed. And I really glad that you continue your blog!