I am becoming painfully aware of some of the most common health trends in the elderly. Declining sight and hearing are the most common. How ironic that in the time of their lives when they have the most knowledge and experience to share they are slowly being cut off from the world by no longer being able to see or hear it clearly. A stroke seems to be the next most common symptom of old age. Even though many of our clients are mobile and healthy, they often share the story of what happened after their stroke. And then there are those clients who can’t get around at all without the assistance of their adult children. They just reach a certain age where they can no longer drive or walk on their own.
Then there are the couples. I am in awe of couples that have been together for 50 years or more. Most of them seem so content and settled with one another. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to wake up to the same person every day for 50 years! It simply blows my mind. Again, their relationships are as diverse as the young. I know one elderly couple that just sort of tolerate one another in a “I’m stuck with you” kind of mode. And I once knew of an elderly couple in their 70’s who still slept together naked every night. How romantic!
My own grandparents, now in their 80’s, are still very healthy. They both drive. My grandfather still plays tennis every day (in spite of his bad knees) and my grandmother joins him several times per week. My grandmother also volunteers at the hospital, takes classes, and takes a trip to travel to a different foreign country every year. But they are also very set in their ways.
I suppose there is no set pattern to growing old. If you’re active every day of your young life you can be healthy and functional up until your last day. And the old seem to have some secret for staying married for life that our generation of multiple divorces could certainly benefit from. They are a walking wealth of history and knowledge. I’m looking right now at the file of a client that was born in 1913. Can you imagine? They were born just a year after the Titanic sank. Imagine the stories they could tell.