Sometimes Too Old (tf)

I’m not an expert but from what I’ve seen getting old sucks.

Sure, you’ve accumulated years of wisdom, but most likely you’re going to get unpleasantly ill and expire before anybody thinks to tap it.

Being old means being in the way and not mattering as much as you used to matter. What you’ve done your whole life you can’t do anymore….and what you can do requires assistance, which irritates the person forced to do the assisting, even though most won’t admit to it. People talk about old people when the old person is in the room, assuming that because they’re old they must be deaf too. This just makes the old person pissed off, and a pissed off old person fits the stereotype, so everybody just thinks…..”well, he’s pissed off ’cause he’s old and cranky”….even though he’s pissed off because people are now treating him like a child.

Doctors don’t like old people much. There’s no challenge to treating a patient who is simply breaking down one section at a time. When my dad got sick we had to deal with all kinds of doctors. Each did the bare minimum, and some less than that. Not one thought outside the box or offered anything that I couldn’t find in a 5 minute Google session. And not one spent more than 5 minutes with my father at any one time. In fact, we got bills from Doctors who never saw him at all. He was a chart on the wall. And old guy a host of physical ailments to go with his Alzheimer’s disease who might kick you if you got too close. The fact that he was also one of the most respected and admired men this city has ever produced mattered not one iota. He was just another on the assembly line, waiting for a bed to open up. There was no use in complaining, because all the caregivers were doing what they could when they could. There was no neglect. It was just…..well….this was and is the way it is. Getting old and dying is ugly…..which is why so many old people die alone. Loved ones turn away. It’s too hard to look. Cowardly yes, but reality.

I was at a Funeral over the weekend. The woman passed away at 84. She had a hard life. Lost her husband years before. Was never given anything. She did the best she could. Never hurt a soul. Religious. Generous even when she couldn’t really afford to be. A good woman all around. Her last few months were hard. The suffering she went through towards the end was ghastly. I didn’t know her well but I still cried. Why does it so often have to end this way? There is no redemption in pain.

Can’t we do better?

Well, we could. When we allow a human being to suffer pain we’d never subject a beloved pet to, it’s pretty clear we’e not nearly as advanced as we think we are. Blame it on the voodoo of religion. Blame it on fear. Blame it on ignorance. Blame it on the insurance companies. Blame it on those who profit from the agony of others. Blame it on Fox News or George Bush or Obama. Take your pick. But blame it on something and let’s get past it so there’s less pain in a world that already has plenty.

Let us grow old with dignity.

Gee…..that was a cheerful 500+ words, no?

Can’t help it sometimes. Getting old sucks. And guess what? I’m getting there too…

–Tom Flannery

~ by admin on September 6, 2011.

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