Getting Old isn’t for Wimps

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Getting Old isn’t for Wimps

Getting old isn’t for wimps


Joe Montana, one of the most accomplished professional athletes of all time, played into his late 30s. He was asked — with four Super Bowl victories and two most valuable player awards, but at the cost of accumulated injuries — why he kept playing? His answer: “What if someone told you that you will never get to do again what you love the most?”

Moving into old age brings a series of all the things you’ll never get to do again: loved ones you’ll never get to see again; ideas your mind will not be able to contemplate, no matter how smart you once were; places, such as your beloved home, that you’ll never live in again; memories you’ll never have again; social status you’ll never enjoy again; and, for many, the biggest insult of all, personal independence you’ll never have again. Getting old is an insult to your self-esteem, to your physical comfort, to your identify as an adult. No wonder the elderly yell at folks to get off their lawn.

It’s not all bad: young grandchildren to spoil, then home to their parents to deal with the consequences; no dreary job to go to or worry about being laid off; free or cheap health care; discounts; for many, fewer financial worries; less need for shopping, as you probably have enough clothes to last your lifetime; you’ve bought your last car, your last home, and last pair of Nike Jordans; failures, forgotten, successes, remembered (maybe, even enhanced); and finally, you’ll never be tempted to look like this

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If you describe the elderly as cute, intolerant, dumb with technology, or other condescending labels, think again. We find young children cute, because they’re innocent of most of life’s experiences. By definition, older people have more life experiences than younger people. Intolerant? Everyone is more comfortable with the world they grew up in, because they are experts in negotiating that world. Same for technology. Familiar is easier, but don’t forget, older people dealt with less automated machines, less technology that (to borrow from the old Apple motto) just worked. Telling Siri to place a phone call does not make you more clever than someone who dialed rotary phones for much of their lives.

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To say that old people don’t like change is silly. With decades behind them, most older people have survived many downs, and have a wide repertoire of adapting to change. They just don’t like turns for the worse any more than anyone else does, and they’ve had more of those than have most younger people. As I stated above, turns for the worse will continue. In more detail, as you get older, you must adapt to numerous unpleasant changes:

  • Loss of family
  • Loss of friends

  • Loss of vision

  • Loss of hearing

  • Loss of mobility

  • Loss of memory

  • Loss of independence as in ability to drive, care for self, etc.

  • A shrinking support system

  • Decreased abilities

  • Fewer choices

  • Decreased activity

  • Decreased socializing

That’s a lot of losses. Old age isn’t for wimps.

As a care manager/care consultant, you have an opportunity (and often, a responsibility) to be the most effective member of their non-familial support team. That team may include doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel; caregivers; a bill payer; one or more lawyers; a member of the clergy; a power of attorney (a relative, or not); a spouse or partner; an adult daughter or son; a brother or sister; and so on. These people may all agree on proper care. And lions may lay down with lambs.

As a care manager, you are the candidate to be the one who knows and coordinates how all these professionals will work with your client. As a care consultant, you may be charged with getting those lambs and lions to co-exist. Being a care manager/care consultant is not for wimps either, but as with most challenging professions, training, support, skill, and experience will make for a satisfying career.

Priniciples for review

  • Your clients are experienced with life, more than those who care for them.

  • While losing certain physical and cognitive facilities might make you dependent, it does not make you a child.

  • Old age brings mourning for many kinds of loss.

  • There are some good things about getting old.

  • The care manager/care consultant profession is demanding and satisfying.

Published by Gary Bloom

Gary Bloom writes about learning, counseling, computers in education (and occasionally, some other stuff). He's a counselor, working in Edmonds.

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