When, as an author, I speak to a group of seniors or adult children, I always ask the question, “Have any of you been to a class reunion lately?” There are always a few hands that go up. Then I ask them, “Did you wonder what all those old people were doing there?” This always brings the laughter of identification.
It is human nature to see ourselves as 20 years younger than we are. Those 20 years can get us into a lot of trouble. It can cause us to refuse help when we are caring for an ailing spouse 24/7. The American Medical Association had an article in the AMA Journal titled “The Mortality of Care giving.” The article states that someone caring 24/7 for a spouse or loved one who is bed ridden or suffers from dementia has a 63% higher death rate than someone the same age who is not a full time caregiver.*
There is a lovely lady whose 102 year old hand is on the cover of my book. She told me she was always being asked the secret of to living to 100 She always answered the same way. She said, “The secret to old age is having a positive attitude and moving very carefully.” How often do we see a broken hip, shoulder, take away the freedom of an otherwise healthy senior? How often is depression obvious to everyone around a senior but medication or even a discussion of the consequences of depression is loudly refused?
If I have negative, critical thoughts, I will depress my immune system and will be a sitting duck for flu and colds. If I don’t ask for help when I need it, I will sap my energy, doing things I don’t want to do, leaving me with no energy to do the things I love doing.
Asking for help can be critical to quality of life.
Darwin has been misquoted. He did not say the survival of the species is dependent upon the survival of the fittest. What he said the survival of a species is dependent upon those most adaptable to change.
If I want to be adaptable to change, I know I must embrace everything I resist. I must lose those darn 20 pounds. I must exercise even though I would prefer to do anything to avoid it. I will drink water and eat enough protein for my body’s self repair and enough fruit and vegetables to keep my system functioning smoothly.
I must be willing to downsize when my large house is taking too much energy and money to maintain it. This is the most resisted adaptability.
Life changes if we are 21 or 71 and adaption to those changes is vital to our sense of well being.
*Jama; The Mortality of Caregiving; December 15, 1999