You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.
I hope you haven't come here this morning to have your spirits lifted because unfortunately this is Serious Thursday, or alternately Soap Box Thursday.
We often talk about the miracle of modern medicine, and it's true, it is a miracle. If it wasn't for the advances in medicine some of us would be not be alive today.
But there's good news and bad news concerning modern medicine. The good news is we're living longer. The bad news is we're living longer.
My freshman science teacher used a phrase that I've never forgotten. It applies to many things in life beyond science. That phrase was, "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."
Yes, we're living longer, but that in itself replaces one set of problems with another. The reality is, if you live a very long time there's a price to pay. And that price is that you will lose some or all of your independence.
I'm determined to age responsibly.
What does that mean? Our uncle died recently, at 96 years of age. He was still climbing on his roof to do repairs. And for anyone who is tempted to say, "Oh, that's so cool....96 years old and still repairing his roof..." I will say it is not cool. His son is 74 and believe me at that age he should be able to relax and enjoy his retirement and not worry about his 96 yr. old dad climbing all over a roof. Aging responsibly means I do not want to create any unnecessary difficulties for my children.
It also means that we must be fierce with reality. This is a little easier for me because when I was diagnosed with Lupus over 10 years ago I was forced to deal with the limitations placed on me by the disease. Denial would only make things worse for everyone. I mourned the loss of good health quickly so that I could move on to my new normal. I knew that there would be days when I would not be able to function or fulfill my responsibilities. I needed to be OK with that and accept my limitations and make changes to my life to accommodate those changes.
Unfortunately we are in a situation that could prove to be very traumatic for a family member due to the fact that they are in denial about their situation and the DMV is most likely bringing the hammer down.
Illinois is one of the few states that stringently tests senior citizen's driving skills. Seniors are tested quite frequently until the age of 87 and at that point they are tested yearly. Family members also have the option to contact the Secretary of State's Office confidentially if they believe their family member is impaired. The senior would be contacted and tested without revealing the family's involvement.
- Do you have these discussions in your family?
- Have you ever faced the difficult task of asking for their keys?
- Have you ever been in fear that your inaction or denial of your family member's diminishing driving skills could lead to someone's injury or death?
- How can we determine when it's time to intervene?
- Would you be willing to be someone's transportation partner, or put together a support network?
We need to have these conversations.
I've discussed this issue with a lot of people and they all say, "Well, it's hard, because they'll lose their independence."
YES they will. That's the reality, so we should be addressing it before the 11th hour.
My own mom has made some major changes in her life that are leading up to the day when she no longer drives. She moved from a senior apartment in a very small town to a place in a nearby city. The new building has plenty of activities and transportation options.
I hope I'm never in the position of the elderly gentleman that my son and I encountered at the DMV last year. He arrived for the test in his pajamas and slippers! Everyone in the facility was looking at each other, thinking the same thing....this person actually drove here? He failed the driving test and seemed totally blindsided, having not given one moment of thought to the possibility of failure. His equally frail and confused wife kept asking, "But what does that mean? You failed? What does that mean?" Everyone in the DMV office knew what it meant. My mind was on fire. Where was their family? It was a scene that was sad beyond belief and totally unnecessary.
I hope I'm fierce enough with the truth to lay the keys down when the time comes, actually before the time comes.
NOTE: Please join me in my kitchen first thing tomorrow morning. I've got a fun day planned and there's going to be a contest! We need to be on our best behavior because I've got lots of new guests coming!