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Getting Old

Posted Oct 07 2009 10:02pm
Doesn't that phrase just depress you? I have a theory on this and I truly hope it holds a LOT of water. You can't stop from getting OLDER but you can stop being old. This is not a concept that my father can grasp. But then, there really aren't many concepts that he can grasp.

Here's the story - about 3 weeks ago my father had a very serious heart attack. They were able to put in a stent and clear some massive blockage and YES, save his life. But here's where I have to ask the question: for what?

My dad is 77 years old. He was previously diagnosed with Alzheimer's but after a hideous, horrendous and a whole other blog's worth of detail, they finally decided that he doesn't have Alzheimer's but a variation of dementia caused by blockage in some arteries in his brain. Well YAY for that. At least he's been properly diagnosed. Oh, did I happen to mention that for the past 6 months I have asked my mother not to accept a diagnose of Alzheimers without further testing. The drug, Aricept, that he was taking wasn't really having any impact. His short term memory is and was non-existent.

So he finally leaves the hospital for some care at the skilled nursing facility. Every few days he actually has a lucid day where you can carry on an adult conversation. The rest of the time, I'm not sure what world he roams through.

Yesterday I stopped by to take him an extra pillow. He made this request of my mother a week ago and she came back with a small travel pillow. That's not what he wanted - not sure where she came up the idea of a small travel pillow - but she's another trip as well.

When I got there, he broke down crying. He said he was having a bad day and that he was in a lot of pain. Mostly in his legs, which I figure is coming from all the physical therapy he's getting. So I asked the aide for some Tylenol to help with his pain. She gave him that and I surely hoped it helped. However, he continued this crying jag all the while mumbling about getting old and how terrible it is. What did he do to deserve this? To deserve what? Getting old - isn't he lucky to be able to get older? Isn't he lucky he didn't die? But then, he doesn't even remember what happened to him. He doesn't remember that he has asked me "How come you're here so early?" about every 5 minutes.

My dad isn't well-educated, barely graduated high school. He did provide for his family and raised 3 children - well, my mom did the raising. But he did most of the providing. Now he is retired and he has time to spend on his interests. What would those be? None, zero, zilch. He gets up, sits in a chair and sleeps, eats, and goes back to to bed about 6:30 in the evening. Now I have to ask the question - what kind of life is that? And you are wondering why you are sitting in a nursing home in a wheelchair crying? Isn't it obvious? So my question is - what kind of quality of life is this?

The lesson to be learned here is - do not sit around and wait to get old and die. I won't be doing that. I'm hoping that when the time comes, I'm out on the race course. I'm hoping that as I get older I won't be old and I hope that I will always be living until I cease to exist in this world.
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