If we live long enough, we know what aging means. It’s not what we are told or read, but us being old and the experience is not a pleasant one. Does the caregiver want to be cared for? Does the reader enjoy not being able to see the print on most pages? Does needing help to dress sound welcoming? Does forgetting your recent thoughts bring smiles to your face? Where is the joy of getting old when travel demands too much? And, of course, there’s much more that does not lend itself to what we refer to as “good times.”
I can go on and on listing what old age brings, and I am certainly one of the lucky ones. At 96, I sleep well, eat well, write essays daily, walk, breathe on my own, remember events with clarity, and still love and look forward to dialoguing with old and good friends. So, at least for me, old is still old, but a remarkably slow decline is my good fortune. To be clear, I’m thrilled to still be around with my Lenette and would like it to continue for as long as possible while I am not a burden.
So, age is what it is, and problematic to boot. This is compared to what we had when we were just a bit younger. Or put in another way, being old can be a sudden happening or a slow walk up a steep hill.
Is there preparation for old age? I don’t think so. We may read, hear, see, and talk about it, but being there is the only way to know. A lonely journey that every person who lives long enough will experience. Being part of a community of individuals walking their path alone is helpful. No question, we each know this.
So, our younger family, friends, and associates can and do help by accepting our reality and helping when it is obvious that we need assistance. Also, it’s important not to make us feel older and less able. If we are lucky, we know our situation… Unless that, too, is gone.