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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't let them tell you they are busy!


Old man, waiting for his wife to finish her shopping.
She is busy, purchasing something she doesn't need.
He's busy, worrying about his lunch, the bite on the budget this excursion will take.

Old people are mostly bored, in pain, or lonely.  What this man needs is to play with his grandchildren, but they are not around.
What his wife needs is to be in charge of  something important.

O.k. I'm simplifying, but the crux of the matter is still here: old people are not utilized well. They end up flitting here and there in search of something that gives meaning and purpose to their days.  Even if they can't move, they want to move, they want to feel that their days are full of activities that change lives, save the world.

We tend to relegate them to a semi-dead state, a waiting in limbo state, until maladies take over and their lives have reached the point of no return.

Grandparents used to live around their children and grandchildren, were consulted on all major decisions, supported the family by babysitting, educating, cooking and maintaining the household.  They were an integral part of an extended family.

Boredom and loneliness did not contribute to their demise.

How is it in your family?

43 comments:

Diana said...

This is something I've thought about before, when my grandmother was still alive, and more recently, when we visited a retirement community for Valentines Day with our story hour group.

One of the things I most look forward to about aging, is, hopefully, being in a place financially where my time is not so tied to making ends meet. There is so much good I would like to do in the world, so much I would contribute now if I could. I'm trying to do some of that now, and hope to remember this wish when I'm older.

Eva Gallant said...

My grandkids are mostly within 45 minutes, and I get to see them often. I hope today's young people prepare for retirement well, because it's getting more and more difficult to be comfortable financially. We get by; we travel a very little; we eat out occasionally; but I worry about finances. Wish I didn't have to. At least blogging is realatively cheap!

Terra said...

You make some good points here, and one other thing is that folks live longer now and often are healthy in to their 60s, 70s and 80s, so that can be a long retirement. I recommend volunteer work for retirees and do volunteer work myself. Our adult sons live near us, yay!

NitWit1 said...

well since Husband and I are in that age group I fully see what you mean and the A-Fib is not any fun.

My husband is more than bored if he cannot fiddle around outside.

We both are into internet an computers but that gets boring too.

Helen said...

... and that, my dear, is why I live in Bend Oregon AND why I volunteer.

PS .. I'm hoping the Cascades stop all that bad weather!

becky at abbeystyle said...

Exactly as you describe...sitting around waiting for something wonderful to happen and, mostly, it never does. My mother insists on living in the same town where she always has--in an assisted living home far from where any of us live. Thankfully, she works hard at finding every little joy each day has to offer rather than sitting and mumbling to herself in a corner. And we work hard at seeing to it that she has as much contact as we can give her...

Jo said...

I don't believe in old age. I have found that people are still as vital as ever, well into their 80s and even 90s. People can make themselves old, if they allow it to happen. There are all sorts of way to keep vital and active -- volunteering, part-time work, even hobbies.

Did you know that all of the people who ever lived to be 65 or older are alive right now? 65 is not old. Jane Fonda is 73...! She is getting married again.

Age is just a state of mind and a number, it does not have to be a fact of life. :-)

Nancy said...

Boy, I cannot agree more! This harkens back to my view that people should live in like-minded communities. We all need to feel useful and older people have so much to offer - especially to the children. It's a shame that they get shuffled off to day-care centers that provide the basics, but without the love and heart that grandparents can provide.

PurestGreen said...

My grandmother has many health problems. She has been leagally blind for more than 20 years, had a hip replacement a couple of years ago and she has advanced COPD. It is really difficult to make her feel engaged and a part of things.

I am afraid of being older and being reliant on a government pension. I see older people at the market buying food that is so low in nutritional value and I cringe. But they don't have the money to spend on good food.

Has you read A History of Love? It is an amazing novel which outlines the isolation of elderly people.

Great post - really makes me think.

Brian Miller said...

i totally agree..and it is those that keep active and involved that seem to live long...makes sense to thm and society to keep them active...

ain't for city gals said...

Hi ..I cam over from Chrome on the Range..this is a good post. My parents 84 and 80 years young are an inspiration to all of us...granted they are slower but they never give up!! and they probably do more than I do..it is all social involved with the family. It is up to the "kids" to involve them every chance we get..a BBQ..playing cards or just visiting with them at home. A lot of time you reap what you sow later in life...I actually think this is a big problem with young people..they have way to much time on their hands..

Patricia said...

Very thought-provoking post today! My mother is 94, still very sharp mentally and very active. Loss of eye sight and hearing has caused her world to shrink and she is often bored and lonely. But she uses her computer and even has a Facebook page!
My husband and I are retired "older adults" and find much to keep us busy and involved in life. However, as I was thinking about this post, I realized that the things that we pursue are fairly unknown to our children. We study in Learning-in-Retirement groups and our heads are full of new ideas, interests and issues. Yet, if we are asked "What's new?" by adult children and we begin to tell them, their eyes tend to glaze over. I do not think we are wind-bags or pompous, as other friends seek our input. But somehow, that part of us doesn't seem to interest our children. :-(

Tabor said...

I think grandparents were consulted in older days...sometimes... and they were needed because there was no one else to work. Now everyone is NOT at home. They are all busy somewhere else so old people must redesign their lives. It is hard to do that, but I am still trying and I am not waiting for someone to give me something to do.

Monkey Man said...

With the advances in technology, roles seem to be somewhat reversed. Grands helping grandparents with everything from their cable tv to computers. There is still a tremendous amount of pratical knowledge that comes from grandparents and elders that is a storehouse not fully tapped.

Grandmother said...

I'm the grandmother and I'm not letting anyone relegate me anywhere. If I don't have meaning the former way of living in extended families, then I see it as my task to find/build meaning in my life. Those in need are everywhere. Help out. That's what life's about, not shopping. We talk about this imperative as a family and support one another being of service in all our different ways.

yaya said...

There are many ways to contribute to society. Our senior citizens center is a bustling place in our town. The hospital where I work depends heavily on our volunteers...most of whom are seniors. We had one gentleman in his mid nineties who rocked babies in the nursery! Take a class, learn a new hobby, write your story. Lose yourself in the service to others. Aging is happening to me as I sit here and I'm trying to go down fighting!

Hope said...

yes, very thought provoking post. love all the comments. I am just starting to get the taste of being without children. my last child is 16. I am a stay at home mom. so I kind of have one foot raising my child, another one being a grandmother and one more with no responsibilities but to my hubby and myself. appreciate all the comments. makes me think

thanks for your post

Life As I Know It said...

This post reminds me a documentary called The Way We Get By. It's about senior citizens who are greeters at the airport for ingoing and outgoing military...a really moving film.


Since having children, I understand how important it is to be near extended family. Important for everyone!

potsoc said...

WE left our beloved Val-David to be near our children and grand-children. We are active at the McGill Institute for Learning in Retirement (M.I.L.R.).
Back in Val-David we were involved in the Volunteer Bureau, not here, too impersonal.
Next week we will be looking after the grand-children while the parents are settling a succession in Spain.
Involved in our retirees associations and a volunteer organization supporting young unwed parents.
No time to feel old nor bored.

She Writes said...

Well, I have no parents. I sure wish I did. It is deeply sad what has American independence has done to family.

Stories like the one you wrote here scare me.

Woman in a Window said...

My parents, who are the grandparents, stay busy during their days, but I wonder and worry of their days to come. What will their choices be? I don't know.

In regards to myself, I look forward to being someone's pain in the ass:) And if I don't have one by blood, I'm afraid I'll insert myself somewhere. Usefulness is primary to me, one way or the other.

I am sad for the distance between then and now.

xo
erin

#1Nana said...

You do touch on the hot topics! I haven't allowed myself to dwell on these issues...but I've felt those emotions as I struggle to figure out retirement and where I fit.

Good post...you keep me thinking as you blaze a trail for the rest of us to follow.

janis said...

I was so blessed to have very busy Grandparents that lived "young". They lived life to it's fullest and enjoyed every minute, until the days they died. I am so grateful that I spent my teen summers living with them. They taught me about life. Working hard & loving life. I miss them so.

Cloudia said...

This is the WISEST thing I have read in a LONG time!!!


AMEN




Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

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Dawn said...

Sadly a lot of people view "old" as not knowing or caring or aware.
"Age" is only a number for sure. No matter how old a person gets...they are still young in their heart and spirit....still the same person they were in their 20's.
I get told this by my mom every so often;)))
Heck! I still feel 18.
But I'm not.
:)
Thanks for this post....very good to remember!

Natalie said...

Funnily enough in my family, two of them are always roaring drunk and the other two are always away caravanning and unavailable for visits and family get togethers.

ds said...

Please don't tell my parents that they are supposed to be despondent now; they still believe they must change the world, or at least suppport it--and are doing so!

I grew up with one grandmother a vital part of the household; the other set of grandparents were minutes away. Even then, it was a luxury.

Grandparents hold a special place in my heart.

Rob-bear said...

Well, I've hit "the age of certifiable decrepitude" — and I'm collecting the Investments (pensions) into which I invested all my work life. My late father, in his 80s, was still chopping down trees and cutting up the fire wood. I'm not quite in that league.

This morning I cleaned up the basement and worked on one of several major ethics projects in which I'm involved (this was on the human ethics side; I've a bunch of animal ethics things that need finishing, too). That meant a lot of phone calls and e-mails, but I got things done. My wife spent the morning with the grandchildren (about ten blocks from our house).

We did some shopping together after lunch, then she went back to the grandkids, while I had my afternoon nap (which I highly recommend).

This evening, finished the ethics work, for a meeting which begins in the dark later this morning (about seven hours from now). Couldn't sleep, so I got online for a bit, now its back to bed.

And I've got several more things to tackle. I'm always short of time. I chose to be busy. But I'm puzzled about why I'm THIS busy.

Oh, I get it. Re-tirement is when they put a new set if tires on you and send you out for another 50,000 miles (at least). Zoom, zoom!

Crafty Green Poet said...

My partner's aunts are all very busy women, looking after family and neighbours, even though they're old themselves. His parents are quite ill so it's difficult for them. My parents always seem to have plenty to do.

People don't become old so early as they used to do

Crafty Green Poet said...

My partner's aunts are all very busy women, looking after family and neighbours, even though they're old themselves. His parents are quite ill so it's difficult for them. My parents always seem to have plenty to do.

People don't become old so early as they used to do

the walking man said...

I am called upon when needed and left to live my life when not. I have no care for the loss of contact because I still see well enough to know I have place and portion in a world that will or will not revolve with or without me. And in that I am content.

Marion said...

My Mama is 83 with fire-engine red hair and many friends. She only wears jeans and won't wear pants with elastic waists. She's the Super Mario Nintendo champ of her apartment complex. Not even the young kids can beat her. She refers to her friends as "old ladies" but God forbid if we say the "O" word to her! I want to be just like her when I grow up. Her kids, grandkids and great grandkids all bow to her as our matriarch and we see her and talk to her often. Blessings!

sallylwess said...

This was a great post. I wish I lived nearer to my children because I alway envisioned my later year to be filled with not only activities, but also with time with children and grandchildren.

In many ways, my grandchildren need me more than ever. I struggle with ways to maintain connections when we live so far apart.

We stay busy, but without family nearby, the busyness seems somewhat hollow.

Velva said...

My dad is 86 years old. I often have to curb his desire to climb the ladder to the roof of the house or drag a cherry wood set of dresser drawers up the a flight of stairs. He is stubborn, independent and always quick to share his wisdom with his children who are almost eligible for AARP, and his grandchildren. :-)

Marguerite said...

Older people are treated with the utmost respect in the Cajun culture. They are included in all of the family activities and many dance into their 90's. My Dad just turned 89 in Nov. and is amazing! He still keeps up his home and yard, still drives, rides his exercise bike, 5 miles a day, plays poker with the guys, and dates a woman who is two years older than me! Staying busy and active is the key to staying young.

Wine and Words said...

I think about the end of days often. I often say, if you don't use it, you lose it...and so I use everything and very nearly wear myself out! I have so many hobbies that retirement seems ideal. There are also many organizations with which I would like to volunteer. I suppose if my grandchildren (if I have any) live far, and my cooking skills (such as they are) are not needed, then I will find my worth and purpose elsewhere. I guess I believe it is up to me.

Ann Best said...

Yes, I'm so sorry we don't live in extended families (most of us) anymore. Those days of socializing with cousins, aunts, uncles when I was young were so wonderful. Great memories.

I'm not an old lonely mother with Jen around. And if I am "alone" sometime in the future, I have determined that as long as my fingers and brain keep working I'll write, populating my world with "characters," ones I've really known and ones I "make up." And I'll do family history.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my post about my daughter. She IS a blessing in my life!!
Ann Best, A Long Journey Home

Marlene said...

There is such a huge talent pool being under-utilized. I wonder how it can be mobilized.

Murr Brewster said...

I deeply regret that I didn't have the chance to find out what would happen with my aging parents. Or brother and sister, for that matter.

A Cuban In London said...

This is a post that spoke volumes to me. In the last ten years or so, since my grandmother died, I've been thinking more and more about third age matters. You're right, elderly people are not used to their maximum capacity. I'm lucky, though, in having a mother-in-law who is very active. My own mother defies her age and when she was here in the summer gone, she was always looking for things to do.

Great post. Many thanks. And as for the man in the photo, give him a fishing rod! :-)

Greetings from London.

JoAnn said...

Great post! I was fortunate to grow up living just minutes from my grandparents, and now my children enjoy the same close relationship with my parents. When my father retired over 10 years ago, he made my life (and my sisters) so much easier... we always asked ourselves how we managed when he was still working. I feel sorry for kids that only see grandparents once or twice a year...

Jayne said...

Hello. What a great post, and there are some fablous comments here too. I think you are so right and I also believe people can 'think' themselves old. It all depends on their state of mind, and their internal happiness, as to how folk manage getting older. We're an aging generation and more should be done somehow to prepare and utilise (to borrow your term) the golden years!

Rachel Cotterill said...

My family all live in different parts of the country - we try to see each other often, but it can be hard.