Tag Archives: getting old

When I’m Old

25 Apr

How will you move when you’re old? How will you get in to bed? Or out of it? How will you maneuver around your home, your yard, your neighbourhood? What habits do you have now that you’ll have to change in order to be safe?

Do you ever think about things like that? I do.

I often joke that I’ll be that person who dies alone in their apartment from a totally preventable fall and is nibbled on by their cat before being found a week later. It sounds ghoulish and stupid, but is a thing that could happen.

I’m lazy, and used to being tall and able to reach just that little bit more so I can grab something I need. Which means, instead of walking around an obstacle to get what I want, I lean over it. Leaning to the point where I’m on tiptoes on one foot, while the other leg is kicked out behind me to balance out how far forward I am leaning and I’ve got one arm stretched out in the hopes I can reach with my fingertips what it is I’m after. If I try this when I’m old for sure I will topple over and if not die, get injured.

My thinking right now is I’m capable, so who cares? Except, what if I don’t recognize in myself the signs that signify change, that will make that maneuver unsafe? What if I don’t notice my balance isn’t as good, or my core strength, or my ability to stand on one foot? Maybe I won’t be acknowledging to myself how I am more prone to injury, or that my arm can’t stretch as far as it used to, or that the strength in my arm might not be good enough to pick up that item I want. There are a lot of things that change within our bodies as we age, some changes happen slowly and we either adjust without realizing or don’t realize the changes, don’t adjust, and then harshly get confronted with our decreasing ability when we have a fall.

It is so much easier to see the changes in others, and so incredibly easy to ignore the signs in ourselves.

It might seem obvious to you that a man in his late 80’s shouldn’t be walking a distance that leaves him shaky, weak and sweaty, to run a couple errands when he could easily have those items delivered. But to him, being able to make that walk, run those errands, is proof that he isn’t as old as the years say, he is still capable of taking care of his wife and himself, he has usefulness.

In our bullheadedness to prove we are useful, and not old, we make stupid decisions, refuse to make lifestyle changes, all to prove to ourselves and others we what? Have value? Are independent? Are capable?

Society takes away so many things from our seniors that we grow up thinking are markers of entering adulthood. Their drivers licence, living in their own home, making medical decisions, cooking, working. And sure, some of those things might not seem like a big deal to give up, I mean c’mon, who really wants to be cooking everyday? Not me! But if all of a sudden my microwave and toaster were taken away and my cook top was disconnected, so I can’t cook, even if it is for my safety, how will that affect my self-worth?

Just to be clear, I’m not saying things like licenses, and living alone, and solo medical decisions, are things that shouldn’t be changed. Eventually we all become unsafe drivers (some much sooner than others lol), we all become unsafe living without some level of care, we can become isolated and depressed from being alone so much (do you know how many seniors are isolated and depressed? A lot! Go visit your grandparents people!).

I thought, because I work with seniors, I already knew all this and I dunno, was aware? But oddly enough, I saw a series on YouTube by The Try Guys about becoming old that made me think about aging in a more specific, how will I be physically affected, kind of way.

There are four videos in the series, I recommend the first and the third. By wearing a special outfit they physically feel what it is like to be old, their range of motion is decreased, their stamina is lower, a bunch of things are affected, and they try to go through their regular day like this. It showed how grocery shopping, baking, exercising, simple walking, all these things are harder, and in ways I hadn’t really thought of.

Did you know your arm won’t reach as far up as it does now, so getting things from the top shelf at the grocery store will be difficult? Even though I have contact with seniors on a regular basis, I never put that together in my brain. Sure I know their range of motion for arms is less than mine, but in how many simple day-to-day tasks does that affect them? A whole bunch more than I ever thought of I bet.

The videos got me questioning things but it all culminated in my head when I was getting in to bed one night. I like a high bed, I climb in to my bed, one arm holding a hot water bottle, the other holding my iPad or a book or the cat, so I put one knee on the bed, and climb on to my bed with no arms keeping me balanced or providing aid. And remember, I like a tall bed, so I’m going up on to a bed, not down or level with where my knees are when I’m standing. I do this, every night, without thinking. Just sorta climb up in to bed, then scoot around, get comfy, and pull the blankets up.

One day I won’t be able to do that. Hell, one day I’ll have to acknowledge it is unsafe for me to be in a high bed and get a lower one, and the only way I’ll be able to get in to it is by sitting on the edge and slowly swinging my legs up on to the bed. The entire way I get in to bed will have to change to accommodate my aging body. It might seem a silly thing to be contemplating, how getting in to bed will change for me, but it is one small thing that will be part of a larger amount of life changes I will have to make.

I’ll probably have to change the style of living room furniture I have, I have a low chair but I’ll need to invest in higher ones, I’ll have to have less items in my little hallway so it can be clear of any hazards, I’ll have to have more lights because my vision won’t be as good, I’ll have to stop leaning over things to reach items, I’ll have to leave outlets exposed instead of hidden behind furniture, there’ll have to be fewer cat toys lying around waiting to trip me up.

All these things are silly I suppose, but they have been occupying my mind lately, the changes I will have to make to accommodate my body as it ages and becomes less physically able to do the things I want it to. I wonder, will I be the person who acknowledges the changes I have to make and adapt to them willingly, or will I be the person who insists on doing things I shouldn’t be doing anymore to try to prove I still can when in reality I’m just putting myself in unsafe situations? I think I’ll probably be a mixture, adapt well to some changes but poorly to others.

To think, all this introspection because of some YouTube videos! I should be more careful what I watch lol  I’ve linked to the two videos I’m talking about just below this sentence, in case you want to risk watching them. 🙂

 

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