Grey Foxes, Ron Jackson, October 20, 2015
I confess to be “getting on a bit” and am no doubt guilty of reminiscing, but I don’t think I have yet reached the stage of “living in the past”, possibly because I am lucky and still have plenty of things to keep me busy and my mind moderately active.
But...... over recent times I have visited a number of old friends in care homes, who, for no fault of their own, find themselves having to face a blank wall or the never ending flickering images of an unwatched television screen, with the only break in boredom a call to meal times or a rare and fleeting visit from a family member or friend.
So what was there to remember about yesterday, or the day before?
Nothing but the same boredom of many previous days, and as a result the mind inevitably dwells on the more distant past, with the happy, sad, successful or disastrous times of one’s life to mull over.
Consequently and inevitably conversations with visitors will soon revolve around the past and however attentive that visitor may be, equally inevitably their eyes will begin to glaze over as they listen to repeated reminiscences they have been subjected to on previous occasions; and the longer the person is in that situation, the less frequent those visitors will be.
This applies particularly to those who have lost their mobility but it similarly affects the more active who, whilst amongst people in the care home are just as lonely as a person living on their own as, whilst at first a new resident will strike up a conversation with existing residents, they quickly find no new topics to talk about; whilst those outside do have the benefit of occasionally picking up a bit of gossip.
I fear there is no answer to this, otherwise someone long ago would have found it. Somehow I cannot quite come to terms with contemplating myself in a similar situation, but then again, when younger, I couldn’t envisage my own reducing ability to do the things I once did. I still think I can climb ladders – I can, but a “higher authority” tells me I can’t. I still think I could run a marathon, but I “know” I can’t.
My present philosophy is to not stop doing things, even if it would be easier to get someone to do it for me, but if I am honest with myself, I know that inevitably this will change and I will have to accept the situation – but not just yet ...I hope.