Elderly and Alone, Why?
Families Forget Sometimes
I often find myself feeling that I am nothing but a burden for my family and that I cause them much stress. They order me about and tell what I can and can’t do all the time. They complain all the time when I call them to ask for something or ask for a little company once in a while. They gripe about having to clean up my messes and they gripe about helping me get dressed, especially when my limbs just won’t go the way they are supposed to. I wonder how many of you out there feel the same way.
I finally began to understand what was happening; at least I think I did. I was bedridden for several months. When I needed something like help to the bathroom or a drink of water, the family would have to drop what they were doing to help me. They gripped, not because I needed the help, but because they had to stop what they were doing to help me. Like they had a large kid to care for.
Getting Old is Rough
Getting old means you can't move like you used to move. Your body won't do things like climbing or lifting; even sitting can be painful. Your insides betray you as well. You start with low or high blood pressure. Then on to your inside parts not working. Knee replacement, hip replacement, clotting issues, gall stones, diabetes, obesity, weak eyes, weak limbs, hearing problems, even loss of teeth, and weakness of your bones. Then, to top it all off, you begin to rely on your family to help you because you can't do the things you used to do. Your body is failing you and you can't fix it.
The Worst Part
Many of the elderly can't even get out of bed without help. It is a constant struggle to remember their medicines, so they don't always take them. It is hard to hear so they must keep saying "what?" when people speak to them. Showers become something they can only do on good days. And they get angry because the check book no longer balances, they can't remember a grandchild's name, or they are a burden.
But the worst part of growing old is that many people automatically assume things. Things such as older means dumber; older means deaf; older means you can't spell or do math anymore. The list is endless. And in some cases they are true, but not in all cases. Some of the elderly are fit, strong, and have a teenager's brain (so to speak). They don't need, or in many cases want, your help. The ones who do need help don't need your harrumphs, exaggerated sighs, or disciplinary attitude because they already know that they are interrupting your routine. They already know they are a burden. And they hate that they can't do things themselves any more.
Embarrassed, Among Other Things
I believe the elderly are alone because their families are busy with their own lives. As each day comes and goes, they do a daily routine, then home to get a few hours of sleep before they have to do it again. It is not something they are aware of because you were always the strong one. You kept the family together, healthy, and strong. You never needed help for anything. But now you do and they don't realize it.
You remember how strong you were and are embarrassed that you are not still strong. You feel that asking for help means you are weak and old. Are you? In some ways yes; in some ways no. But to have to ask for help because those stairs have doubled, or so it seems. You can't remember things. You can't even remember how to use some of the things you have. And you are no longer a 'spring chicken'. Sadly, only another elderly person can sympathize because they are there too.
To Top It Off
Yes, things are harder now, but you can do it! You know you can until you realize you need steps and bars on both sides of the tub just to get in and out. And those stairs to the laundry somehow got skinnier and longer. Time takes a toll on everyone. We all hope that we will rest and relax when we reach retirement age; but, surprise all you can do is go without or ask for help. Either way means your family will be angry with you for the intrusion. It doesn't get easier either. Joint aches, replacement surgeries, stomach troubles, graying hair, and that is just the beginning.
To All Those Adult Kids
Your elder family member doesn't want to be so dependent on you. They want to be independent. They want to do it themselves. They want things to be as they were. When you go to your parents' house, remember this:
Time slows for no one and as we age our bodies age. Help isn't a privelege anymore, it is a necessity.
Hope you enjoy these two little poems about getting old.
Staying with Family
I cried myself to sleep last night, a thing I often do
I felt I wasn’t worth my life, as they told me what to do
I let the tears fall on my pillow fearing that they might hear
For if they knew I cried again they would shout at me, the pair
They leave me here all alone as I wonder where life went
Unless they want or need something then it must be lent
A small silent accident would cause them much regret
Because I left them all alone without giving them a cent
Remember that the elderly have feelings. Don't hurt them more than they already hurt; inside and out.
I awake to the beautiful sun shining in my window.
I need to get up, get dressed and face my day (of woe).
I crawl and roll, slide and shove, trying to sit up.
My body only laughs at me as I knock over a cup.
Finally I am sitting up wondering when the shaking will end.
Getting up is difficult but I have things to which I must tend.
I grab the bed table to steady myself, 'till my legs stop wobbling.
I lean on the wall as I walk, on one leg I am still hobbling.
I find a chair and take a break from the efforts I have spent.
It is lousy to get old, I say; you get a back that is bent.
An arm with no strength, health issues galore, a body no longer well.
Time to turn the clock back to a me that I remember well.
(Don't we all wish that?)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Cheryl Simonds