Feb 23rd, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Macular Degeneration and Other Handicaps

The top 10 concerns of senior citizens includes health issues. Judi Dench, the actress, and I have one in common.  We have been diagnosed with macular degeneration.  You may also be a part of that growing league of those who are beset by this incurable disease.  The worst part is that ‘wet’ macular degeneration in particular can lead to blindness if not treated early.   People who have ‘dry’ macular degeneration experience a decline in vision, but may not become altogether blind. Click on those links above to get more information from the Mayo Clinic.

As we grow older, we seem to be confronted by more and more health issues for which there is no cure, no reversal, no treatment. Drug companies work tirelessly to come up with means for addressing one or another of these threats, but often to no avail.

As in the case of macular degeneration, I was told flatly by a rather insensitive retinal specialist that there is just nothing to be done. Period.  While that is likely altogether true, a more gentle bedside manner would be preferred as we, who are older, begin to deal with more and more threatening limitations.

Accepting Limitations a Part of Productive Aging

Overcoming handicapping conditions may not be possible, but accepting their implications and adjusting to their reality may be.  If, over the period of the next several years my vision continues to decline, as it likely will, I will need to be ready for what that means for me. It does not introduce joyful anticipation, but it does introduce the need to be in touch with what may and can happen.

This is only one of several invasions that may attack us broadside.  Diagnoses have already been made for several conditions that prove challenging and unsettling.  Treating them, in so far as is possible, watching after them to reduce their progression, and keeping one’s physician apprised will all continue to be necessary.

Where and when possible,  find a means for staying ahead of the insidious diseases and handicaps that work their way into your daily existence. It’s an ongoing challenge but one worth the journey.  Physical exercise and brain stimulation are still the two keys to productive aging.

For example, after retirement, my first assault was the crashing of my thyroid.  There followed on that several other periodic physical changes that I experienced, including moderate (sometimes severe) osteoarthritis.  When struck with prostate cancer, that was the really big and dramatic one.  And following on that, there were numerous side effects.  While clear of any evidence of cancer, the loss of stamina, incontinence and other discomfiting experiences have continued to take their toll.

Not to yield to the somewhat typical aging malady of complaining, I  am simply aware that the fight is on to try to beat down the persistent gnawing at my body that comes with aging.  The goal is to combat these invasions with as much determination, force and wherewithal as I can possibly muster.  Life is still good.  Life is still happening with an inordinate amount of pleasure and satisfaction.  Life is still better than the alternative.

Choices are still available for keeping yourself “a goin”,  as a friend of mine puts it. So keep “a goin'” and find ways to lift your spirits, inspire your soul, motivate your body, stimulate your brain, kick yourself in the rear and make life what it is intended to be:  good, productive, fun, pleasurable and fulfilling.

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