The theme this week seems to be that old age comes for you sooner than you think.
My friend just wrote me that her dad, who is in his early 60’s, is in the mid stages of Alzheimer’s. He has to have heart surgery in June, and the family has been warned that anesthesia and narcotics from the surgery could exacerbate his disease. There is nothing to do about it but hope and pray–it’s not like the heart surgery is optional–but they have to be prepared that he may come out with a better heart, but a worse mind than he went in with.
My mom just cancelled a trip to visit us because her partner had a stroke and she needs to stay to care for him. She herself has been having a number of problems starting with an ankle injury she had years and years ago. She had surgery on it last year and it hasn’t healed well, so she is now worse off than she was and becoming concerned, at 62, about her own mobility. She needs a cane to get around still, and though she is supposed to have surgery on her other ankle, that now seems like a very bad idea. Her partner is already in a wheel chair due to diabetic leg amputation and now is dealing with stroke recovery on top of that, and how she will be able to push him around without ending up in a chair of her own is a great concern. Neither of them are willing to discuss more intensive care with either of their children, though. I understand it, but I worry.
My uncle, who just visited, had his own mini-stroke last year. He came out of it with a minimum of damage, but I noticed while he was here that his balance is less good than it used to be, and he tires very easily, and he has a lot of trouble remembering words, particularly when he’s tired. He’s doing very well, but 65 is not, after all, the new 50, and the name of his game is maintaining as much as possible and slowing decline. Improvements are not so much on the horizon.
We take for granted in these days of medical miracles that everyone will live to be 120, and be out windsurfing until their dying day. But it’s not so. Some people will be very active, but many, many more will not be hale and hearty into very old age. They will have what I have heard called The Rusty Years; they aren’t necessarily Golden. It’s scary to think that as fast as the last twenty years of my life from 20 to 40 have gone, the next twenty from 40 to 60 will be even quicker.