On Aging…

Time...

Science tells us that time is not constant, the mathematics shows it can move in all directions and at different rates. There is nothing in physics that shows any reason why events can’t happen in reverse. Although this is theoretically true our reality says otherwise. Past, Present, Future… for us time is linear, unwavering in its advance and never straying from its seemingly pre-determined path.   

As time marches forward I find myself celebrating the life of colleagues, friends and family more frequently. Some are fortunate to have lived long full lives while others are taken from us too soon.

I remember the passing of my great Aunt a few years back, she was one of the fortunate. I fondly recall the smile that never faded from her face despite the challenges of her final years. Alzheimer’s has taken its toll on what had been a vibrant, caring woman.

The whole experience was a genesis for some thoughts and ideas about growing old. I came to realize that in many cases there is one catastrophic moment that seems to push our elderly over the edge. The event is different for everyone. There are usually signs of the aging process beforehand but they only act as the pre-cursor to that one pivotal event. It’s the event that breaks our confidence, our spirit, our will and when it occurs the effects can be devastating.

For example, many years ago now my Grandfather was active, involved in his community and a respected businessman amongst his peers.  He survived a depression, two wars and two wives, brought four children into this world, or at least had a hand in the process, built a successful business, work diligently for the needy in his community and ultimately lived to be 91 years old. Although the ravages of time were showing in his later years he was still able to live with dignity and purpose.  That all changed when the garage attached to his house was deliberately set on fire. The insurance rebuilt the building but they could not rebuild the man or the sudden loss of confidence this event caused.  My grandfather lived at home for a few more years with my Uncle before moving into my Parents’ home but he was never the same. He no longer participated in the community, his church, his life.

For my Nana it was a fear of being left in a nursing home alone.  A fear that became reality when an outbreak of the Norwalk virus led to the home being quarantined.  During this time family and friends were not allowed to visit and seemingly her worst fears were confirmed. For my grandmother the end was quick. She had survived no less than six minor heart attacks over the previous two years and the home confirmed she did not contract Norwalk. It would seem the fear of loneliness and isolation ensured she was gone before the quarantine could be lifted.

As I move through my forties and I watch my father and mother age I wonder what their fates will be. I am already seeing the signs in my Dad. The shaky hands, the slower pace. Time is taking its toll and I just wonder what the catastrophic event will be and more importantly what role I can play to ensure when that event occurs I am there to attempt to rebuild the confidence lost. Maybe rebuilding confidence in our elderly will ensure the hands of time are slowed or temporarily reversed just as theoretical physics suggests it can be and those last days, weeks, months or even years are spent living and not waiting to die.

I guess only time will tell…

Copyright 2017 Greg Glazebrook, All Rights Reserved.

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