Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

How do you see the future when you're 95?

16 Comments

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.

 

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

16 thoughts on “How do you see the future when you're 95?

  1. It scares me to grow old and it scares me to see my parents getting older and I just don’t know how your husband’s aunt does it being 95. My neighbors are 91 and 92 and still going but barely.

    I love parakeets – they are great company – so it is neat to see that husband’s aunt has one!

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  2. PS – Sandhill cranes in your header photo! Awesome!

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  3. Gee. I don’t know if I wanna see 95. If I do, I better have some really cute black and white therapy dog coming to visit me a couple times a week!

    OK, it doesn’t have to be black & white. Any dog will do.

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  4. It is a scary thought – growing older, maybe being alone, having to cope in a world that is constantly changing and barely seems familiar anymore. And when you add health problems to that too – geesh ! I think what is really sad is when we keep putting off all the little things we want to do until we retire or until we have time..by then are we too old to really enjoy them?

    Loved your interview yesterday – we had internet problems yesterday and I couldn’t leave a comment – I like being a troll – below the bridge 🙂

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  5. As long as my eyes don’t give out, if I live to 95 I foresee a lot more time for reading. Also time spent sitting in a sunny window and looking out, enjoying the warmth and reflecting on life. Writing, too, I hope. It will be hard when I can no longer hike in the woods or on the beach or get down on my hands and knees to work in the garden. Outdoor work and play will be hard to lose. Also, friends and companions. It’s important to have some younger friends, for more reasons than one.

    Your friend looks like a beautiful lady.

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  6. I wonder if some of the loss of strength and stamina comes from having been cooped up and less active all winter? Perhaps she can regain some of it in the spring and summer. I hope so, anyway, for both of your sakes. But it sounds like she’s also wise in thinking ahead about assisted living.

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  7. Mom’s grandma (so my great-great-great granny) is 87 and still living on her own. She’s had a rough spell this year, but keeps busy with bingo groups and quilting and etc. Your grandma looks GREAT for 95!! Cherish every minute!

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  8. It is amazing to hear that your husband’s aunt is still doing good at 95. I’ve had a lot of my relatives die much, much younger. If I could still be active at that age I don’t think I would mind growing old as much. My fear is to be that age and confinded to a wheelchair, having people feed me and take care of me. That thought creeps me out. Hope you have more time to spend with her!

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  9. Just looking at the photos, I would never have guessed that your husband’s aunt is 95. I hope I look that good at that age.

    This is such a thought-provoking post. My mother-in-law moved into a senior type housing development when she was in her late 60’s. It was one of those places where they have small houses/cottages for those who don’t need assistance. Then you can move to an apartment when the house and yard are too much. From there you can move to assisted living when you need some help. And then there is a full-care nursing home. Long story, short, she moved out about a year later, saying she wasn’t old enough for a place like that. A few years later it all went downhill but that’s another long story.

    The reason I mention it at all is because I keep hoping to find something of that sort for when I’m older, a place where I can still have a house, but there are activities, people to socialize with, outings, etc., so that if I can’t drive, I can still get places, visit with people, do things. I think that’s why living in a city is appealing to me at times. To be within walking distance of everything would be great.

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  10. Robin – Some friends and I talk about getting old in a community..of our own making, on some land, with little houses for privacy but a central dining place where we could eat if we wanted to…maybe share cooking responsibilities, living somewhere out in the country, all of us pursuing our own thing, art, writing, whatever…company when you want it; not if you don’t but a community you can depend on when you need something.

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  11. Dawn – the community you describe reminds me of the idea of “co-housing”. There are a few co-housing developments near Ann Arbor, like http://www.sunward.org/ and http://gocoho.org/ .

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  12. This is really interesting Susie. Something for me to store in the back of my brain as I ponder the future!

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  13. I looked at a lot of retirement/care facilities with my parents a couple of years ago. If you have some money, most of them are more like apartment rentals with lots of services thrown in–so, yes, you bring your own furniture, and how much depends on whether you can only afford the studio-type apartment or the huge two-bedroom condo with full kitchen. If you don’t have any money worth mentioning, it gets sadder. My parents are both still reasonably functional and they opted to stay in their place. But if my dad were to die first, my mom’s physical limitations wouldn’t really allow her to stay there and she’d prefer to move into one of the care facilities–heck, after touring them, *I’d* like to live in most of them! My own small apartment, with maid service, laundry service, all my meals cooked for me, a library right there on site (even though it’s small), etc. And lots of other people around with whom you can socialize easily if you want to, in organized activities, casual games, at meals, whatever. There are a lot of positive things about many of those places.

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  14. Does Aunt **** know about your 101 list?

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  15. Good points Ellen. I’ve visited with husband’s aunt some of her friends in a few of the assisted living places and I think I wouldn’t mind it either. She’s got medium amount of money. We have some too. So we’ll try to get her into the best one we can. But I think we need to research now…rather than later.

    Beth, I don’t think she does know about the 101 list…

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  16. Getting old is not for the weak or those without courage. I want to never be a burden to anyone.

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