The Dignity of the Elderly….and Their Rights
Probably one of the hardest things for a family is to see an older loved one deteriorate in health or mental capacity. Nevertheless, when one is just this side of even thinking of themselves as elderly, it is a big question about how one would want to spend those last “golden years”. A younger person never gives it a thought. Maybe we should.
How does one prepare? My husband and I decided we would look at finances; get an insurance plan in case we needed to have extra assistance, and we’re taking a doctor’s advise. The advise was to live every moment one can…prepare a “bucket list”, so to speak, because it is more than likely the hips or legs will eventually give out…and we will not be physically able to do those things. Take a trip to places not seen; work on woodworking; become the best one can at an interest. In my case, it is writing, photography, and music.
Did I say music? Of course, I have always loved listening to the great composers, as can be seen on this blog site, but actually make music by myself?! Well, why not? When I was a child, I went to a private boarding school far from home. It was a lonely experience, but the one thing I had there was Mrs. Tollison, my piano teacher. Funny that I can still remember a person who has probably been dead fifty years! I learned the basics and even did a recital, but when I went home to my single parent mother, she could not afford a piano…and could not get one up the steps to our apartment even if she could pay for one. That was goodbye to learning how to play, so I turned to art lessons instead.
A few years ago, I sat down at the keyboard and found out that some of what I had learned at age 10 was still there. Then just this Valentine’s Day, my dear husband, who had seen me watch Beethoven’s life ( Dearly Beloved, the movie) over and over, surprised me with a piano. How blessed can one be to have such a husband?
All this leads me to the first topic…what about those last remaining years of life? I have included a video below that is at first glance appalling…even though I do not know all the circumstances. It does, however, beg the question….Why are the elderly often treated like children?
My mother, who passed away this year at age 93, read four or five books a week. Her mind was alert to the very end and she did have help with meals and the love of her family and friends, but I fought tirelessly to see that she kept her dignity until her last day on earth. She would have had it no other way. She refused medications that put her to sleep and even told the nurses , “I’m not taking that tiny one” when they brought them anyway. Dignity and alertness was important to her. She had a right to her own decision making.
Sometimes people wonder why the elderly get crankie or hard to live with. It may be medications…or it may be the loss of what was rightfully theirs all their lives…freedom to make decisions on their own. It is becoming clear that more and more society has its expectations. Even government wants to tell us what to eat, drink, and much more. Individual freedom may be at risk.
Sometimes we, as family members need to take a deep breath and sit down. We may need to say to this person getting up in years, “What do you really want? If we have someone come in to help out once in a while, will this be what you want..and need? ” There may be the tendency to want to take control without asking the hard questions. Most of us know when a person is able to function…even if the memory is a little diminished. If you have been a son or daughter who has not spent time in building a relationship, do you really have a right to tell a person what they should do or not do if they are in a relatively good state of mind? My advise would be to carefully consider how you are treating the ones in you life that will soon get to the last stages of theirs.
You view the video below and tell me what you think in “Make a comment”. I would be interested in the opinions from around the world:
- What does your culture say about the elderly?
- What is your “bucket list”? For those who maybe have not seen the movie with the same title, it is about two men who decide to do everything they wanted to do before they died. That is a “bucket list”.
- One thing we know is fact. We will die. Nobody wants to think about it…but we should. Not morbidly, of course, but if we can…..we want that moment to be with dignity.
Click on the video link below. (Turn on sound and forgive the commercial with this video. All these clips seem to have them…if we use them.)
Side-note: After viewing this, one may want to be careful about who we sign over our property to or what we put in our wills. )