This thoughtful post is from WrinkleThink, a blog founded and maintained by Senior Living Communities, LLC, a Charlotte, N.C.-based company that owns and operates 12 retirement communities throughout the Southeast. It offers a fresh perspective – a bit different from the usual aging-related stuff in the blogosphere. It’s entitled Young Man, and the author is Jason D. Johnson:
I am still considered a young man. I know this to be true because almost every day someone addresses me as “Young Man” instead of my given name.
Yesterday was a trial run for me on what it will be like when I am not a young man. I started the day by waking up and realizing that I had a tremendous amount of sinus pressure affecting my left ear. This muting effect would haunt me all day, complete with a significant amount of crackling and popping making it difficult to hear, especially in noisy settings.
Then I received a set of stitches in my abdomen. Thus, those beauties rendered me useless in picking up heavier objects, bending over or stretching my body in any regard.
At my afternoon eye appointment, I, of course, got the ole eyes dilated. Always good fun, but yesterday I believed they administered the super juice on the dilation. My vision when reading was far blurrier than under normal dilation and it persisted way into the night.
And in that great night, the main drain line in my house split open in the basement. My wife was out of town, so I was left to fumble around in the basement with a flashlight, blurry vision, a bad ear and limited mobility (the stitches made it so I couldn’t stretch to turn on the ceiling lights and I couldn’t carry anything down the steps to help me reach the ceiling lights or fix the problem). I felt like…in short…a useless man. A useless man who now had to figure out a plumber I could trust.
However, I kid myself if I think that’s what it’s like to be significantly aged with various impairments to my health. I still ambulate with no hindrances. My hands bend without arthritis pangs. I only take one pill a day and I don’t have to take that one. My children don’t live hundreds of miles away from me. I still drive at night, almost every night without thinking twice about it. I have no sentimental bond with my house. I haven’t lost a significant loved ones to death. I still have the hope of more life in front of me than behind me. I haven’t watched the generations after mine overlook the traditions and values known to me in my youth. I am not concerned with my legacy. I have no dependence upon others to live. I am not…the list could go on forever.
This is a good lesson for all adult children to remember. We all think we know what it’s going to be like or what it is like for our parents to age, but we really have no idea. We aren’t them. We haven’t felt the tectonic shifts of psychology in our 60s, 70s and 80s. We haven’t yet felt our bodies give way.
So don’t emulate. Don’t guess. Don’t place your desire over theirs. It will only make the aging process…the caregiving process…the placement process…that much more difficult, should you guess wrong.