As the adage goes, “Tis impossible to be sure of anything but death and taxes”. We just finished watching “Being Mortal” the Frontline documentary based on the New York writer and Boston surgeon Atui Gawande. In short the film talks about what Dr. Gawande summarizes as the “unfixables; ageing and dying”. It sheds light on the uncomfortable subject of end-of-life care, and the heartbreaking, heavy, uncomfortable task of telling someone that they have a few months to live as well as the important conversations required at the end of life. Having a good life as long as you can. You can’t always count on the Doctor to lead the way. This documentary, and the book it is based on is simply about dying, but it discusses dying on one’s own terms. A difficult film to watch, and book to read, but a subject that needs to have light shined upon it.
Are you starting to notice changes in your aging parents? New dents and dings in your aging parent’s car? Your dad who never forgets a thing is starting to forget simple things? Your mom who spent her life making the house a home is having difficulties completing the most familiar tasks? The most organized aging friend is having trouble misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace their steps? These are just a few of the signs that something may not be well with your parent, partner, spouse, loved one or friend.
Well, not every one of these necessarily means that something is wrong; we all lose ability as we age, we all get forgetful, but when this becomes more and more noticeable it may be time to have a difficult conversation about the future of your aging loved one.
How much does one of your minutes cost, please?
At what interval do you determine time to be valuable? a minute? An hour? A year?
Now I understand that this surely must be all relative, right? For example, a millisecond is very valuable to s sprinter. A second can be the difference between life and death in an accident. A minute is important if you are running for a flight, thirty minutes is a lifetime waiting for your child to be born, and an hour is a blessing when you have a tight deadline. So the value of time must be only important depending on your activity right? Wrong!
You are old, and that’s ok. There is a quote by George Bernard Shaw that says “Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.” But whoever said you can’t be youthful in old age? Maybe your body tells you that every time you get up out of a chair… Or maybe your barber tells you that when you pay more for a haircut now than you ever did…and you have far less hair!
When did you start thinking of yourself as old? Try and think back. When did you first really say to yourself “wow, I’m old”? Can you remember? Was there a specific day you woke up and said, “I’m old”?