Thursday, November 16, 2006

Some Thoughts on Old Age

After two weeks of no work, I kept turning down clerical jobs in far-flung places like Larne and Newtownabbey; I started back at the Twilight Homes this week. And what a shame that it is this very week that my darling Katy is home for a few days.

Yesterday I was working in the Near At Hand Home for People Filled with Brotherly Love. It is a lovely looking place although rather regimented. I’m there today and tomorrow as well. Is this why I woke up this morning feeling horribly depressed?

The care is good enough, the surroundings are beautiful but I get a sense that the people who work there are just ‘doing a job’. As is normal in these places there is a lot of bitching and cliquery. The usual form of bitching is that other workers don’t pull their weight. One thing about this particular home is that it is certainly rambly enough for people to hide in. And from what I’ve seen so far I think some of them do.

Urrgh! I hate the thought of going in there this evening.

Then there is the clientele. The people that still have their wits about them are mostly lovely and really interesting to talk to, that is, if you get the chance. But the others, the ones in bed who barely know who or where they are, they depress me so. What is the point of that? The hardest thing is to look at the photographs on display taken maybe just a few years before when they were alert, up and about, and alive. Now they’re lying rigid, skeletal, paper-thin, hovering between half-life and the end. These are people who had lives, loves, jobs, hobbies and families they knew.

So – no matter the fineness of the furnishings or the splendour of the surroundings these are such sad places. The up-and-about ones, if they still have their minds, must know that it is only a matter of time before they too are lingering under full-time nursing care. Unless they are lucky enough to, one day, just drop suddenly dead. The ironic thing is that the quality of care and attention to nutrition etc. keeps most living long beyond their natural span.

There is much to be said to be said for an experience of benign neglect in a home of one’s own.

2 comments:

Hageltoast said...

*shudder* there is something to be said for a massive heart attack at some times in life.

Ronni said...

I may change my mind about this as I get older, but it seems to me that curing the diseases of which people normally used to die merely frees us up to "linger," as you put it.

My MIL hovered between a drugged stupor and agony, hoping for it to get better. When I finally got the doctor(s) to tell her what they had been telling me; that she wasn't going to improve a whole lot more than she had, she let go and went within three days. Sometimes, just telling them it's OK to go will be enough.