A couple of weeks ago I spent a day with husband’s 95 year old aunt. She needed to go grocery shopping, she needed to find a pair of slacks to replace some she’s had since the 50’s and mostly she needed to get out in the fresh air after weeks of being cooped up in her apartment through a most difficult winter.
Though she’s in amazing shape for someone her age I can see that she gets worn out faster than she did just a year ago. This time she allowed me to go back over to the other side of the large grocery store to pick up something we had forgotten. Last summer we would have walked over there together. She actually waited in the car while I ran into another store to pick up birdseed for her parakeet. She never would have done that last summer. And she leaned heavily on the cart at a clothing store, then sat in the dressing room while I went back and forth with items for her to try on.
Back in her apartment she was talking about people in her building that have moved into assisted living facilities. There were three from her floor recently. The reality of aging is beginning to effect her, both physically and mentally.
Generally she’s a pretty upbeat person, but more and more when I call she’s having a “bad day” and doesn’t want to do anything, or even have a visitor. I don’t recall her ever turning down an invite before.
All of this has me thinking about what it must be like to be 95. To realize that there aren’t going to be years and years ahead of you. To realize that you can’t do much of anything that you used to love to do….that you’re lonely but don’t really want to socialize. That you’re bored but can’t see enough to do much of anything, even to really see the TV.
How does a person in this situation stay motivated to actively engage in life? How can I introduce more variety to her life, keep her active in a safe way, challenge her mind?
Last week she asked me if the assisted living places let you bring your own furniture. I realize I need to research these places so that when the time comes, and it may be sooner rather than later, I can help make the transition as easy as it can be.
Meanwhile I’m already missing my partner in adventure. We used to just head out and see where we ended up. Not so much now. A combination of me working a lot, her having bad days, and nasty weather has really cut into our adventure time. But I’m hoping we have a couple more adventures in our future.
Before she has to make that big move.