Ageing Ungracefully

I was recently forced to reflect on how I perceive my own age when confronted by my 84 year old dad who insists that he is too young and capable to consider downsizing or seeking assistance. Like the bloodied limbless Black Knight in the Monty Python’s Search for the Holly Grail, life’s health and mobility setbacks are all considered mere ‘flesh wounds’ against all the evidence to the contrary.

And ‘what is wrong with that’ I’ve had to ask myself.

On reflection I’ve come to the conclusion that although I’m happy to embrace concerns about climate change and even do my bit towards saving the planet, when it comes to accepting or even recognising my own ageing process, I’m hypocritical. I have double standards, one I apply to my own self perception and a very different one for others.

My mirror tells me every morning that I look the same as I did yesterday, and has done so every day for the last 57 years odd years. It is others who make observations about my age that my mirror doesn’t make, but that is their perception, not mine. I’m still young, and I’m happy to debate the issue with anyone who thinks otherwise. Just don’t break my mirror.

I came to the realisation that dad’s mirror has the same message for him as mine has for me. A light globe moment!

It is easy to observe that we are very subjective about ourselves whilst we are more objective about others. When it comes to aged care and concern about parents and friends though, which should take priority? Assuming they have mental capacity, is a parent’s desire to remain at home of greater importance than the family’s concern for their health and wellbeing and their desire to help them relocate to more suitable premises with care facilities.

As ridiculous as dad’s self perception may be, I had to ask myself what the risk is of making him objectively face his reality. Would I smash his mirror and convert him to a safe but miserable old man overnight?

So how then do we balance our objective concerns with a respone like ‘no one is putting me in God’s waiting room to wait out my days. I’m not that old and anyway I’m perfectly happpy here’. It would be an admission of mortality, a first step to allowing the aging process to take hold and perhaps overwhelm if he let go of his position.

Luckily he sits on a line oscillating between passive aggressive and belligerent when it comes to discussions about aged care so his perception is his unshakable reality. His mirror unbreakable, for the time being anyway.

My dad still has valuable lessons to pass on, even in my role as an estate planning lawyer.

3 Comments on “Ageing Ungracefully”

  1. Tom Ellicott says:

    Rod what a tough peice to write on a subject that’s confronts us “kids” . It was a pleasure to read an thanks for your insight – seems to ring bells. Tom Ellicott

  2. Lothar Wilkens says:

    Rod , I had the pleasure to spend time with your son, your dad and obviously you ……
    Why did you even consider you have the slightest chance.
    When we are young we may have listened to our Dad’s but then went our our way (quite often because of what we heard exactly in a different direction).
    Does it surprise you ? That your Dad is now doing the same?
    Sure we should tell others how we see it (we both do it every day as consultants in our field of practice), but once they make up their mind ……. we should spend our energy in assisting them to fullfill their (final ?) dreams. Once your dad enjoy your support and sees how much is needed from his loved once to achieve it he most likely will realise himself when it is the point to face reality.

    I had a close friend come to me early in the year.
    Her dad was dying from emphesima (worst chain smoker I have got to know) not able to move and on oxygen demanding that he was given his cigarettes which his wife was hiding.
    All 7 kids including my friend where desperate to make him stop.
    Creating unhappy , frustrating and unbearable visits.
    When she asked what I think they could do : I told her how selfish and cruel i thought they are.
    All these 70 years no one had the power, will or desperation to make him stop.
    He was in charge of the family and were powerless. Now that he was sick, frail and no match I thought it was the wrong time to show him that the rest of the world could finally push him to do what they wanted him to do all these years.
    So my advise was to go buy cigarettes and hand them to him.
    Sit down while he smokes and use the time to talk about anything but smoking.
    These last smokes did not make a difference to the length of his final couple of days’hours (the only danger was that he would have blown up smoking too close to the oxygen bottle).
    The outcome was that everyone followed that example, my friend was so thankfull because the final moments together while not happy, at least where not wasted to fight over the pros and cons of smoking.

    As mentioned when we last met. Sometimes in life it is not what we do, but what we decide to let go what is needed.

  3. […] “How will you be remembered?” or perhaps reflect on perceptions of ageing visit my blog “Ageing Ungracefully”.    If you are too busy to read the posts before Christmas – read them in that break AFTER […]

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