I violated my self-promise today, to never park my vehicle, w/in close range of other vehicles. Too many dings and bangs, in memory of years past going in and out of parking spaces. I failed to be "smart" and pulled in fairly close to the objective and under a small tree. Within seconds, I was witnessing in a panic an elderly woman pull into the spot facing me.
As my prayers began to fail my ability to put the car into reverse, I decided to raise my hand in a "halt" position to let this woman know that she was "going too far". Again, thinking of her in ability to rationalize a need for space between the two front bumpers, I bounced from my position to her door side.
I could see her confusion and her hesitancy to stop moving. I was afraid that her hand would move the gear and lead me into tears and rage (at my own stupidity). Through her closed window, I told her to just turn off the key, as I could see she was having a "senior moment" of confusion.
Upon opening her door, she leaned out on her left foot and proceeded to tell me that she just "couldn't see very well" over the front hood of the old grey "boat". I assured her that she was "okay" and did not have to fret. In the next twenty minutes, I listened to her tell me that her 88 year old eyes could not see as well through lids that were drooping and due for surgery next week.
Again, I inwardly shuttered with a jolt of realization that at one point, we all need to face the moment of when to give-up the keys. It isn't a fun game, to have to dodge the cars as the elderly start to pull in and out of parking spaces at the nearby shopping center, w/o looking backwards or to the sides. Surely, one can "see", can't they? Absolutely, "not"! Watching an elderly lady one day, get out of her car at the gas station and seeing that she could not straighten up her body from a bent position to her waste, made me wonder, how she was coping with judging where to stop and go with that tonnage of steel with her hands on the pedal.
The freedom of starting the engine and "pulling onto the highway" is a right, that we all enjoy. But, coming to a point of parking the car for good in the driveway with a "for sale" sign, should be on our to-do-list, as the eyes begin to fail and the body knows too many aches and pains.
I had my 80 year-old Mother follow me down the side streets, to the garage one day years ago. I drove 25 miles p/hr on the neighborhood streets, checking on her in the rear-view mirror. At the stop sign, I proceeded across the road w/o a concern, until I witnessed Mom in the rear, coming right behind me w/o stopping.
The minute, we got home, I told her she had to "give me the keys"!!!!! Of course, that went over like a legless frilly goat. "Absolutely, NOT"! I asked her, "why" she did not stop at the stop sign.....her reply: "because I did not want to lose you"!
I was RIGHT THERE! In the next few weeks, Mom turned left instead of right and ended up in the dessert for hours, till she completed a circle and ended up thankfully, where she should have been by minutes, if she had only turned "right". One time, she got "pissed" at me and took off on the interstate, heading north. A "APB" went out over the radio to find an 82 year old woman in a big old gray car. She ended up hours away, getting lost and asking a policeman where she was.
Soon thereafter, Mom made the decision to sell her car, much to my delight! I knew through her tears, that she realized it was a freedom, that she hated to lose. We all "love" to get our first driving license and spend years on-the-road, as we please. But, the fact still comes to a point when someone has to recognize that the body cannot handle that mammoth machine on a highway, where other human beings have the right to survive.
After, I listened to my new friend, LaVerne tell me about a portion of her life, I waited till she headed off towards the store, and I went back to my red car and moved it to a "hiding place". She never knew of my "FEAR".....for she just did not recognize any concern, beyond the moment.
The elderly become victims, not just of the aging process, but of so many factors that they alone face when there is no one to care. Some folks move to the warm climates to play golf and visit with the children off and on during the years, after they retire. Some retirees move away from the kids to cut their expenses or find a newly won freedom from babysitting. But, with that move, many of them lose the tie that binds them to hopefully those that care about them and love them.
As seniors become isolated with the death of a spouse or friends, they tend to trust to easily. That is when the con-artists step in to "help them out". Stories of financial advisers "dipping" too deeply into the investment portfolio are bountiful. Doctors that order unnecessary tests for insurance profits have become widely discussed. Crimes against the elderly often go unspoken, as to ward off "a tide of fear" among the neighbors.
As I left, the store today, I encountered an elderly couple, who had just moved here. The husband had been recovering from major surgery and was happy to be able to get a few more years on his survival record. But, the wife had something to say about the "fight" that they had to find a doctor, who believed in pursuing the longevity of life. First surgeon had told the wife, that her husband was "too old" and he did not think he should operate. The second surgeon, did not agree. "Too old" to live???? Seems to be a theme running through our system.
A 77 year old man with diabetes and heart problems, was sent to a GI doctor for a colonoscopy. Instead of the doctor performing the procedure in a hospital, he used a surgical center. The patient went home and after four hours of pain, his elderly wife, drove him to a nearby hospital. The elderly man was bleeding and the ER sent him immediately into surgery for the next three hours.
The gastro doctor had burned the wall of the colon with his laser and the old man was DYING!!!!! The doctor KNEW what he had done and did not tell the wife, that she should take her husband to the hospital. John has been in and out of the hospital and rehab centers since Oct. 30th, near death day-by-day. He has been in and out of a coma most of the time, and now lies in yet another ICU room, waiting for his body to either begin a recovery or stop breathing, as his organs start to die.
One doctor....one HUGE mistake.....and one elderly man dying. After John's colon was removed in the first hospital and he came out of the ICU, the gastro doctor came for a minute-visit, telling John, just how "lucky" he was to never have to worry about his bowels again!!!!!
This is the third time, since June that John has been near death....emergency gall bladder surgery. But, the hospital told the doctor that there was no available operating room and he would have to wait 24 hrs. Gangrene set-in before John was operated on. John ended up in a coma in ICU for days. Few months later, the doctor that he was seeing FINALLY realized that John was bleeding internally due to a wrong dosage on a med. John was back in ICU again in a coma for days. Final incident has now put John in and out of hospitals, since Oct. and with a few moments of hope for his recovery, now the minutes on the clock count.
The doctors at the newest hospital want to "pull-the-plug". But, John just acknowledged family and friends, as they spoke to him, with his eyes closed and his body tied into tubes. Will the doctors "push" for an end on the chance of survival for a 77 year old man, that is so needed by his wife? We wait for the phone to ring. We pray for the best hope that John can fight back once again, and go home to live with his wife beside him for yet another day and then another day, again.
When, do we think the last chapter should be closed on our lives? As we reach, 50 years of age, should we get ready to do the paperwork? When, we reach 60 yrs, should we acknowledge that our working days are limited and the funds that we have are all that we will ever have to live on, till we close our eyes? When, we reach 80 yrs, will we have family members that WANT us to live longer? Or will our families go by the new guidelines as to "just what rules are laid down for the longevity of life"?
For those human beings that age with health and grace....."good for you"! For those human beings that age with pain and sorrow, hopefully someone around you will care. For those human beings that age without love and care, the pain is as real emotionally, as it can be physically, when the body parts begin to shrink and ache.
Money ends up being a serious factor in how one survives and "if" one survives, when the hills have been crossed and the cold weather starts to affect the achy joints. Explaining to youth, just how important life is for the time that we have, goes on death ears, as they always see "plenty of time ahead". We need to bridge the gap and acknowledge that we all come and eventually we all face going....but, we should be able to smooth the road and ease the pain of the hard bumps for each other.