As I stated yesterday..I have a new job. It's not a whole lot different than what I did before..just a different setting. My previous job had me cleaning mainly empty rooms, this one has me cleaning rooms with occupants. Kind of out of my comfort zone, having to be somewhat sociable, after more than a decade of wandering along with my Ipod blaring music..and I do miss my music, because it does help me move a wee bit quicker.
So, unlike the traveling public or working folks I dealt with back then, this time, I pretty much deal with folks that don't have a choice of where they are (no it is not a jail,LOL). I see them out of their element, some at what probably is not the best times of their lives, but for the most part, it has given me a new perspective on what will likely be my future, and it breaks my heart.
Do you ever think of what life will be like if you are lucky enough to reach old age? Do you wonder if you will be one of the lucky ones, and have a grasp on all of your faculties? Will you have the ability to move about, granted with far more creaks and moans, but, still able to get out of bed, and enjoy the outdoors? Will you recognize others, who you have met throughout life? What about the simple pleasures, reading a good book, having a heartfelt laugh?
Oh, don't get me wrong, I have often wondered what life has in store for me in my 80's , if I am so lucky. I consider my Grandmother, who had an amazing long life, and was bright as a star up until the end. My Dad, also lived a full life, and knew everyone right until his last moments. I have my fingers crossed, I am lucky enough to follow along this line of my DNA, because I have already been lucky enough to surpass my Mother's life span, and her Mothers..so there is a pretty good chance, I just might have a few more decades ahead of me.
That said, there is a whole other possibility out there, a long life without the ability to go outside when I have the urge, or the most frightening, the loss of memory, or loss of limb use. Because the rest of the world doesn't see those affected in this manner, we don't really give it much thought, but there is a very high probability, this will indeed be the future for some of us.
Those folks who suddenly find themselves in care, after lifetimes of independence, have not stopped being people! They are all someone's mother or father, or brother or sister. They have a very long past. They have struggled, they have rejoiced, they have feelings and memories, just some of them have lost different abilities, some, sadly perhaps, have lost their memories..how very sad would that be? That is what we have to lean on in times of despair, and sorrow, to lose that, would be the worst thing ever. That, I cannot fathom, although I know it happens. I wonder, though, what would be worse, to live day after day, confused, or to lay helpless, while one remembers life before?
However, there is one thing that makes a difference no matter what..and that is company! I know, you may say, why bother if someone has forgotten their friends and family? Ahhhh..see..that is something I have found I feel a wee bit different about lately. I wonder because I have seen little tiny things, that make me think twice. I wonder if some of those who have dementia,..have moments of clarity..well..you know, I don't even wonder, I believe they do. I also believe that many simply give up, because they are lonely.
I know..I always state how I prefer very little social interaction. But..keep in mind, I have family, and I have pets..oh and of course some pretty damn amazing friends! I have learned that being all alone, is awful, and I need contact with others I care about, to keep me sane. That is the big thing..others I care about!! People who matter in my world, people who have been along on the ride with me, who know who I am, and what I am like.
So, my new experience has opened up a door to something I have never really seen before, and what the majority of the world never sees. I see Elders who have lived, for the most part, very long lives. I know for a fact, most are parents, which means they are likely Grandparents, and Great Grandparents, and yes, some Great Great Grandparents. Through the process of age, they have become incapable of caring for themselves, in a variety of ways, and are now living with a new family, one filled with others in the same stage of life. These folks are in fact, living history. Now, granted, not all of them can remember, and very few of them speak much, some not at all! But one cannot see them, without knowing..like you and I, they stepped in our same footprints, just ahead of us. They lived in far different times, much harder, without modern conveniences, many without hydro or hot water tanks, and flush toilets, and TV, and of course now, internet. They lived the past, I live the present, and my children and Grandchildren will live the future. Each and everyone of those old folks are Me and You!
i don't work closely with them, and I have total respect for those who have the patience and love (yes, I see love in many caregivers), but, once one has experienced this side of life, it is impossible to not worry and wonder, what life holds for our future. I am frightened of living day after day, without friends and family. I don't want to imagine living 6 days with virtual strangers who have not been on this road with me , to have a visit on the 7th day, for a 1/2 hour..if I am lucky, and everyone doesn't have something more important to do.
Please..do not think for a moment I am bashing anyone, because, I definitely do not walk in their shoes. I have just made my children promise, if I ever, with the passage of time, have to leave my own home, and live out the remainder of my days in some sort of assisted living place, they arrange something. If they can't visit me, they will hire someone nice..oops forgot to make that part of the deal..remember kids,..someone nice..to pop by and visit me on a steady basis. Someone from the outside world, a place that I take for granted, and likely each and every soul there, took for granted as well.
I was taught growing up to respect my Elders, I know that they have lived longer than I have, and have experienced far more, they learned lessons long before me. They have the knowledge I am still seeking..and yes. some are probably not the nicest people in the world, but maybe they were at one time? Maybe age has simply been cruel to them? I know it hasn't been all that nice to me, and I am damn lucky, so far. I think, maybe respect isn't quite enough..I wish we could tap that resource, one of knowledge , and experience, and yes, of history. Every single one of those seniors has a story ..can you imagine reading a book filled with those stories? Definitely would be on the best seller list, and all over the world there are countless stories..imagine the lessons the future could learn!