Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hearing Loss Can Be Hard to Manage

Photo by Eknath Gomphotherium
On Thursday, I went to visit one of my friends who lives in a skilled nursing center.  She has a number of chronic diseases that she's managing with help from the staff, so I usually feel as though her situation is somewhat under control. This week, however, I watched her struggle to manage her latest challenge.

About a month ago, she suffered hearing loss that appeared at the same time that she fell and hit her head.  I am not a doctor, and I am not a member of her family, so I don't have access to her medical records. And she has cognition problems that prevent her from reporting what her doctor and her adult children tell her about her own health.

Consequently, I don't know for sure why she can't hear or whether she will ever fully regain her hearing. But I did observe these new communication challenges that have emerged:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Aging Involves Increased Time on Self-Care

Photo by Helga Weber
I have a tween girl who spends a lot of time preening in front of the mirror. I start to roll my eyes while formulating a comment about how she's plowing too much time into self-care.

But then I stop short. At 50, I am also spending a lot more time taking care of my body. This is annoying, bordering on enraging.

I can't believe all the time I spend striving for the energy and appearance I took for granted in my 20s and 30s.  I'm spending more time each day preparing healthy meals, exercising, and primping in front of the mirror.

Argh! I didn't expect to spend this much time on self-care until I hit my 70s or 80s.  If this is how I prepare for my day, how much time do I have left over for "achievement"?  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Aging Happens to Other People, Not to Me

Photo by theqspeaks
Since starting my graduate work in gerontology, I have been emboldened to talk with people about aging issues. People usually deflect the topic of aging to the generation above them. They resist accepting their own aging; hence, my blog's title.

Even my octogenarian friend Lupe talks about "those old people you could help in your new vocation, Karen." Granted, she's very healthy, active, independent and mentally sharp. Nevertheless, she demonstrates several markers for the category "older adult" as anyone in her 80s would.  But she wasn't interested in any information or insights that I've gleaned about the aging process. Maybe she sees me as too young to have any authority on the topic. I might have figured that when she chuckled and patted me on the head.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Importance of Touch Persists through the Lifespan

Photo by Rosie O'Beirne
A couple of weeks ago, I visited a friend of mine who is currently residing in a skilled nursing home. Upon arrival, I discovered that she had a large bruise around her right temple and that she couldn't hear.  It was apparent that she had fallen.   Understandably, she was also a little bit disoriented and very emotional.

I first tried gesturing and encouraging her to read my lips. Nope. I tried to write messages to her. However, she was having trouble focusing and decoding even short, simple sentences that I wrote in large block letters using a black felt-tip pen. Finally, she said, "Give me a hug!"

Well, why didn't I think of offering a comforting touch as soon as I saw that she had suffered a fall?  And why did I still not think of it when my attempts to communicate by talking and then by writing were obviously failing?