Written by Millionaire’s Digest Team Member: Tracey Bratton
Founder & Owner of: My Balanced Mind, Body and Soul
Millionaire’s Digest Team, Contributor, Family & Life and Successful Living Writer
What do you associate with the term “aging”? Many have visions of gray hair, feeble minds, and frail bodies. This may have been true at one point in history; however, the technology available to today’s modern society is changing this view. Or is it? While modern medical technology can add quantity to life (in years added to the lifespan), what quality of life does it offer to those living longer & longer?
Some baby boomers remain active physically, intellectually, & socially, but what about those that don’t have the capacity to maintain these levels of activity? What quality are they receiving from this extended life bestowed upon them?
Think about about a 95 year old person who is bedridden or wheelchair bound , and whose life is extended because of the discovery of insulin and blood pressure medications. What is that person physically capable of doing? Well, if this person is wheelchair bound, she/he may well be able to engage in many different physical activities, and possibly even engage in volunteer work or continue, to some level, his/her career. If this person also has osteoporosis, chronic pain, and just a portion of their heart still working (because of a pacemaker and heart medication), what is the physical quality of life?
Now consider this same person, but with severe Alzheimer’s disease, as well. That person is unable to feed, bathe, or otherwise care for his/herself, but has added years to his/her life because of well-managed diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease. He/She is unable to report pain because of the dementia, and is unable to enjoy reading, doing crossword puzzles, or just having a conversation with a friend or loved one. What is the intellectual quality of this person’s life?
Keeping this same person in mind, because he/she has lived to the ripe old age of 95, most of his/her family and friends have died, or may be alive but unable to travel to visit. The 95 year old lives in a long-term care facility, where there is a wonderful activities director with long lists of engaging activities. He/She is wheeled into the activities room to “participate,” but what socialization is this person actually engaging in, if she/he can no longer talk or provide feedback? What is her/his social quality of life?
Yes, we all hope to age gracefully, and remain physically, intellectually, and socially active, but sometimes, this just doesn’t happen, no matter how well we care for ourselves. Life doesn’t always follow the path of our well-laid plans. When it doesn’t, I believe that what we can offer to those who can’t maintain physical, intellectual, and/or social quality of life is dignity and respect. When someone reaches old age, and no longer has quality of life, simple dignity and respect, I believe, can be understood, no matter the limitations of the recipient.
Something we can do, is plan for our old age. Let your loved ones know what you expect from them and from any caregivers if you become limited in some area of your life as you age. Don’t just tell them, but have it in writing; and don’t just have it writing, tell them. Aging is inevitable, in most everyone’s case. Rather than strive to achieve quantity of life, seek quality. Live in the present moment, in the here and now. Enjoy the beautiful moments, and move past the terrible moments. Having quality of life across the lifespan helps to better ensure quality of life in old age. Achieve balance in life now, and maintain it throughout your life.
Just some random thoughts…
How do you know when you’re getting old?
- If you’re a woman, and you wake up one morning and don’t know which roll to put your bra on
- When you’re a card-toting member of the AARP
- When your hair turns gray, and your gray turns loose
- When your conversations begin to include obituaries, politics, religion, and ailments
- When you have to scroll longer (and longer) down the drop-down year of birth menus of online forms
- The music and vehicles of teenagers is “too loud”
- You have to use closed-captioning on your regular TV shows
- Your supper, bedtime, and breakfast get earlier and earlier in the day
- You go to the matinee because the first evening movie isn’t over before your bedtime
Article Credits: Tracey Bratton
Millionaire’s Digest Team, Contributor