A Senior Moment

Monday, June 1, 2015
Al Campbell, administrator of the facilities at the St. Luke's Campus in south Spencer (Photo submitted)

You may have heard the joke about a pastor visiting one of his elderly widow shut-ins. The minister knocks on the door, is let in and is offered a seat while the widow finishes her telephone conversation in the kitchen. The minister becomes a bit hungry after sitting for over half an hour and begins to nibble on just a few of the peanuts he found in a dish on the coffee table. When the widow returns after her lengthy telephone conversation she notices her dish of nuts on the table, and tells the minister that because of her false teeth and sore gums she now only enjoys sucking the chocolate off the peanuts.

In the time it takes you to read this article, you have aged. You have aged since yesterday. We age in the womb. Aging is often imperceptible. If you see someone again after five or 10 years, you will, no doubt, witness aging. You can notice it in others such as a spouse, relative or friend, and they may notice it in you. We all go through the aging process and there is no known way to reverse it, despite what advertising would have us believe. All of us age at a different rate. There is even a genetic disorder called, progeria that causes the entire body to age very rapidly. Children with this disorder die of old age.

As we age we perceive that our own functions are slowing and our muscles don't always do what we expect. Our mind may remember what we could do, which may tempt the body to follow. For example, when I play football with my young grandsons, I remember the long-caught passes and a sprint to the goal. If I try and play according to those memories now, my next activity would be trying to get out of the bed to make my doctor appointment. Simply put, we cannot do what we used to do, either in mind or body. What we cannot accomplish at 80 will probably also not be accomplished at 100 years old.

We all age at different rates. Wives have had husbands that passed away before they did and vice-versa. In some cases, losing independence, teeth, eyesight, hearing, the ability to walk, experiencing a loss of control, or the ability to drive or walk to the store or to church causes depression and frustration. When frustrated, it is natural to want to "vent" our feelings or express our anger. In this situation, people may yell at or berate the ones they love because they feel safe in doing so. On the other hand, strangers or those who are far away in mind or distance may never get to experience the anger of a person who has lost the ability to control their world.

Frustration and depression can envelop a person who is incapacitated; often prompting increased medication for resulting physical and mental ailments. Individuals who are alone may feel too embarrassed to ask for help or believe they can "do it" themselves. They may soon experience isolation and/or even harbor a fear of dying.

Fortunately, in our area, many shut-ins have family members, friends or neighbors who can "look-in-on" an isolated individual to see to it the grass is cut, help balance the check book, go grocery shopping, and provide some caring companionship. Some are not so fortunate. For those whose medical, emotional or spiritual needs exceed what a friend, neighbor or relative can do, there are many services in our community that can be of wonderful assistance; just reach out and ask.

* Al Campbell is the administrator of the facilities at the St. Luke's Campus in south Spencer.