Seniors: Coping with Top Ten Worries (Part 3 of 3)

Dec 17th, 2009 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

The two previous entries have addressed six of the top 10 worries facing Seniors.  There may be others, but these are the ones we have chosen to give focus.  Worry, by definition, should be one of the ten itself , for worry is a negative influencing factor likely to exacerbate and inflate the concern and condition which prompts worry.  Eliminating worry, in and of itself, will likely reduce many of the considerations which contribute to health related issues. 

Today’s concluding column addresses the remaining 4 issues( Immobility, Loss of Memory, Life Threatening Illness, and Death)  which make up our ten.  Previously, we addressed Sexual concerns, Loss of Energy, Loss of Social Acquaintances,  Loss of Spouse or Partner; Major Financial loss and Resuming Employment. 

*Immobility comes at us in more than one way.  Obviously, personal immobility which affects our ability to support ourselves, move comfortably under our own steam, and be more independent is the first of the issues in today’s discourse. Lacking the ability to be independently mobile means that much of our life style will be compromised. When the need for more dependence is introduced, the possibility for decline in one’s desire to survive can be influenced.  it is important when issues of immobility invade that all options be explored allowing maximum independence and free wheeling on the part of the person affected.  Among the more popular devices available today are walkers, which enable continued walking; mobile, battery operated three wheel vehicles which allow ready movement and agility to be free to go is another.  This device, however, requires assistance since it is heavy and must be transported in a van or other equipped vehicle from place to place.

Assisted Care Facilities allow these vehicles, but often charge extra for their use within the facility.  If purchasing one, a careful review of all the particulars will need to be made. 

Of course, another issue regarding mobility deals with driving, which is a subject requiring sensitive, but firm, discussion and decision making.  Other issues, including personal immobility, will need to be taken into consideration which will either allow or disallow a person from continuing to drive.  Remember, in this matter, you are dealing with safety issues of not only your charge , but of others who may be affected.

*Loss of Memory, Dementia, Alzheimer’s: Certainly among the scariest of prospects facing those who age are these three very threatening and debilitating possibilities.  We seniors joke about our forgetfulness, in an attempt to make light of the potential seriousness of the problem.  SCJ has a number of articles (in the “Senior Health” section of this site) that describe and define memory issues, dementia and Alzheimer’s.  We all need to remember that some loss of memory is normal in the aging process.  Dementia can be related to any number of causes including medication interactions, mini strokes, diet and genetic predisposition.  And it can range from mild to severe.  Medical and psychological testing is the only reliable route for diagnosing dementia.

Alzheimer’s is the elephant in the room when any of us talks about forgetfulness.  And, of course, the disease is much more than simply forgetting where you put your car keys.  It is a physical deterioration of the brain, which ultimately results in death.  Diagnosis is generally made from symptoms; treatment depends upon the severity of those symptoms. There is no known cure.  Those are all issues that create worry.  Good medical care and appropriate development of a support system are critical in managing both dementia and Alzheimer’s.   None of us can expect to go it alone when faced with such serious health problems.  Readers are encouraged to click on the articles in SCJ’s Senior Health section for more detailed information.

The emphasis for dealing with worries as we age is on coping.  Coping with any of the top ten highlighted in this series of posts means we search for ways to manage our own unique reality, facing that reality squarely, not manufacturing problems that do not exist, and looking to the future with confidence and the anticipation that we can deal with whatever we encounter.

*Life Threatening Illness comes in a variety of forms.  The “Big C” is the most formidable illness to invade a senior’s life. If diagnosed with a life threatening illness, one is drmatically confronted with a variety of questions:  what will be the method of treatment;  how long do I have to live; how will I deal with my family;  are my legal affairs in place; what are the issues I must deal with regarding a memorial service;  will I be agreeable to going into hospice; how will I choose to “enjoy” whatever remaining time I have?

*Death, a subject we have addressed here previously, is, of course, the biggest and perhaps most frightening issue to face us. It doesn’t have to be.  Adapting to the reality of death is a final choice issue. Recognizing its inevitability and dealing with issues surrounding it is the most healthy way to face death. 

Prepare yourself and your family.  Enable everyone to do their own grieving.  Assist dealing with the issues that must be faced, i.e.  memorial or funeral service arrangements, if any;  attention to legal matters, making sure everything is in place;  allowing for the opportunity to see everyone in your family in advance of your death;  Sustain your relationships in a healthy, loving, and sensitive way. 

Decide with others when it is appropriate, if it seems wise, to enter a hospice program.  See also our previous comments related to Hospice. 

If health permits, enjoy everything  possible, walks, conversations, shared experiences with your family.  If you have pets, invite them to your bed or lap.  If you have grandchildren or great grandchildren be sure you spend time with them, helping them to deal with your passing. 

Make time for your friends to drop in.  Give yourself permission to be alone, however, for you are likely to experience major fatigue.  Be kind to those who care for you.  Try to avoid any anger directed at anyone.  Give permission to your spirit to be calm.  You  are dying, do so with dignity.



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