Thursday, 5 July 2012
When to call it a day
In my mind I'm 35, but just now and then a wake-up call has reminded me that bodies wear out (yes, even mine).
It became necessary to give up cleaning the brass every week in St. M's, just too exhausting.
Then the crazy weather this year has caused my 'jungle' to grow like the beanstalk and it seemed sensible to get some help in getting it under control.
A few days ago I asked one of my friendly neighbours to show me how to order some of my household shopping online.
None of these were things I had been prepared to even contemplate a year ago, but there is no sense in clinging desperately to doing everything without help. Admitting to advancing years is the first step, the second is to decide which chores to hand to someone else and be kind to yourself.
Since falling over my neighbour's cat and banging my head, I have realised that slowing down, however reluctantly, and taking time instead of moving at the speed of light probably makes more sense.
Accepting the need to let some things go and not to cling desperately to a way of life which is unsustainable does not mean a lowering of standards, just points to the need to look for changing priorities.
I have just finished watching the BBC1 programme on Getting Older, where four well known figures each spent 2 or 3 days in a care home.
Though each of them was able to leave at the end of that time and those they had spent time with could not, it was good for each and every one of them to experience at first hand the drastically restricted lives of the inhabitants of the four very different homes.
The thought of having to end my days in any such place has always been, and still is, my worst nightmare, yet for many people it is the only possible way.
John Simpson was in a Star and Garter home where many of the 'guests' were in an advanced stage of dementia.
Tony Robinson, Lesley Joseph and Gloria Hunniford all had experiences which, however good (or less good) the home, left them quite shaken and disturbed.
One thing which stood out a mile was that, without exception, every single person in each of the homes, would rather have been in their own homes.
The loss of freedom. The enforced communal aspect of life. The physical decline and also mental decline partly due to lack of stimulation, and the routine with no variation was mind-numbingly obvious.
And for me, one of my pet hates, and one which is a staple of such places, the manner of address, with remarks like "we are not feeling so bright today", however kindly meant, is patronising in the extreme and would elicit a somewhat rude reply if addressed to me.
I think I would go along with John Simpson's early comment, before his experience, that he would rather take a pill than go into a care home.
It was a well-made and well presented programme, but a chilling reminder of what might lie in wait for those of us without family as we get older.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:48:00 pm