Elvis, Air Guitar and the Face in the Mirror
Aging isn’t one of those things that happens overnight. You don’t go to bed young and wake up old. When we look at the face in the mirror, we see the face that swooned at Elvis, the hands that played air guitar right along with Chuck Berry or Pete Townshend, or the feet that danced the Mashed Potato and did the Twist.
We mark our life milestones, marriage, children, grandchildren, sometimes divorce, and eventually retirement. Someplace between caring for our own family, and work, we care for our aging parents. Arguments with our parents to be careful, stay safe, and wait for help become more frequent. They chafe against these admonitions. We see THEM getting older, but ourselves? No. We still turn up the music when Blue Suede Shoes comes on, we dance in our living room, and play air guitar.
And then one day both of our parents are gone and suddenly WE are the grownups, the elder of the family. Wait! When did this happen?
It is a normal part of aging to want to maintain our independence for as long as possible. Being able to make decisions and do things for ourselves is an important part of being who we are. Parts of our life are private (how often do you put your socks on in front of other people?). Some of our routines are secret-not even thought of by us as we go through the motions. Consider something simple-do you put on sock/sock, shoe/shoe or sock/shoe, sock/shoe? Which foot do you start with? It’s a secret, unless someone has to do it for you.
Too often we think of aging as a loss of independence. The truth is, we have A LOT of control over our experience of aging, IF we are willing to be honest with ourself. Our bodies do change as we age. We can choose to make choices that maximize our independence or risk losing it.
The bathroom is where most accidents happen. We definitely don’t want to do the Twist and Shout in the shower. We can choose to have grab bars installed in the shower and near the toilet. We may not want to have grab bars installed, preferring to use the soap dish to hold on to. The soap dish is not designed to hold our weight. It will rip off the wall and leave us on the floor, cold and wet, waiting for someone to come help us. Grab bars empower us to be able to shower independently.
Perhaps we notice that we just don’t have the “oomph” we need to get out of the chair. There is equipment that can be used in the chair to give the added push to get us to our feet. A grab bar that slips under the chair, or couch, or bed can allow us to pull our self up. There are even swivel disks we can sit on to make it easier to get into and out of the car.
If we want to maintain our independence, we must have an honest conversation with the face in the mirror. Making good choices enables us to continue to do the Twist while playing our air guitar at home.
If you need help exploring ways to maintain your independence, check out our Health and Support page to find resources to do just that!