Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Growing Older Close to Home

I'm getting older. I think the argument is closed on that. I complain sometimes about aches and pains, but my world seems to be very different from the elderly - the very old. My Mom's world is a very scary place, not only as she constructs it, but in fact. Even those two worlds are radically different from each other, but a product, too, of living to a very old age.

My Mom has these fears, not for herself, but for her friends not having the means to live comfortably. Do I buy food or medicine? The infirmities of age are clearly evident from dentures to broken hips, assisted living to dementia. It's a steady, slow, inexorable decay that ends in the Moscow Cemetery.

Mom plays bridge with a foursome where one of them is in a nursing facility, another is taking care of her husband who is suffering from fibromyalgia, and the other woman suffers increasingly from dementia. This is a world that is growing smaller and more isolated.

Happily, Mom is in good health for her age. She's also in good humor, which probably keeps her mentally young. I hope I'm as gracious when I'm very old.

Mom and her friends are challenged by our (lack of a) medical system, by local infrastructure like transportation services, and by isolation, being far from other family members, and not being physically able to go places. It's not all bleak, and Mom and her friends have many happy moments; nevertheless, growing very old in Moscow, Idaho is a cautionary tale.