Aging is the one thing most of humanity has in common. If we are lucky, we will traverse the chronologic spectrum witnessing life’s events with wonderment. But just how does one grow old gracefully? To me, it means aging with dignity, respect and healthfully. But how can I ensure this happens?
My most recent client, while my acquaintence with him is new, has made me want to have a serious, blunt conversation with my family about what this looks like for me.
If I have to wear a diaper, please help me change it when soiled. Please allow me the opportunity to maintain my personal hygiene in the same fashion I did when I was able to care for myself. Also, recognize that I would be embarrassed to show my kneecaps to anyone and that you should be embarrassed for me, too, should it happen. Ensure that my hair, wig or weave is squarely appointed on my scalp and that my teeth (even those purchased) are well-maintained and food-free. All of these should be easy to handle.
Respect my decision to be independent; recognize that there’s only so much independence to which I’m entitled if my mental stability is in question, however. Let me be clear: if I’m lucid, able to handle my activities of daily living (ADLs), ambulate through my home–leave me be. If I can’t do those things, please know that I would appreciate and applaud your decision to change the definition of independent living; to create an environment that is safe, secure and allows me as much independence as realistically possible.
The easy part of this will be getting me seen by a doctor, getting the right medicines, etc. But know that a healthy trip through my senior years should include a leg lift or two. Make me walk to the family room and back; turn on a yoga tape so I can increase my heart rate at the site of a downward dog; encourage me to keep talking to the dog as though its my child; help me continue to find something at which to laugh and allow me the opportunity to reminisce uninterrupted.
You would do well to make note of all that I’ve mentioned. It also helps that there’s a guide to ensure your strict compliance. Your meager inheritance depends on it.