Aging Means Losing Some Things, While Gaining Others

Sep 4th, 2009 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Dictionaries are so old fashioned.  The Internet, as with so much, has pretty much relegated the dictionary to the dust bin of history.  Too bad, although anything you want to access can be found, and quickly and in larger print, on the web. The latest edition I own is “The Oxford Desk Dictionary,” a worthy volume published in 1995.  Fourteen years is almost a century now.  There are 5 references to age.  Aging is succinctly defined as “show or cause to show signs of advancing age.”  “Aged” comes out with a one word definition just plain old “old.” 

What we have here is a very limited understanding of age.  That definition is more erudite.  It is to the point: ‘length of time that a person or thing has existed.” 

Not much about what happens in the process.  Not too detailed about how one gets from X (birth) to Y (death).  The definition is worked out one day at a time.  Most of us, most of the time give little thought to what a working definition is of age.  We just go about doing it.  A day comes and it goes.  A morning breaks and night falls, a couple of pretty serious accidents, particularly so if you are older.  Aging means we lose some things along the way.  Many of us are accused of the loss of cognitive ability.  That seems presumptuous, why all of us forget stuff. Some are told we weave when we walk.  Is that before or after our favorite cocktail?    Accusations are impolitely suggested when we are told that our living alone may pose some danger for oneself.  They seem to overlook that on some days my attitude could pose lots of dangers to others who might live with me. 

What aging loses is likely irreplacable.  What it gains is new and formidable undertakings that add up to the challenges of an Olympic style contender.  You just try to mount all those steps in a pre handicapped accessible public building. See how you fare!  You try eating the meals prepared at assisted care facilities and wonder why it is necessary to still have your own teeth.  You try to read that small print on the bottom of the screen and realize why there is profanity because they cut it off so quickly.  You try reaching the phone in time when you are clear across the room and it only rings 12 times. 

What we gain through all this morass of difficulty and jungle of complications is patience.  We gain tolerance.  We try to be kind.  We pet ourselves on the hand to remind ourselves that “they” just don’t understand.  We gain an acquaintance with ourselves.  We know they talk about us and blame us for behaviors that they will soon meet for themselves.  But, we have gained an understanding of and an ability to forgive. 

Aging is an either/or experience.  You can either choose to do it with grace and class or you can be a (choose from among several four or five letter words, here). The former will likely get you a better class of service, if you are already in a “home.” You may even have better meals.  You will attract more friends, which is a healthy must for us seniors.  You can learn from your years of getting here or toss it all to the wind.  The choice is yours and the outcome yours to experience.



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