I promptly lost my first Medicare card. When I opened the envelope and saw the red, white and blue border, I was reminded of the elderly I cared for over twenty years ago when I was a gerontological nurse practitioner. I ran a not-for-profit clinic in a converted one-bedroom apartment on the tenth floor of a senior citizen highrise in Chicago. How many times had I asked to see someone’s Medicare card? Most of my patients were poor, illiterate and had multiple health problems. So when I first looked at my card, I could only remember loneliness, despair and disability. This couldn’t be happening to me. And, poof, the card was gone.
Slowly other patients strolled into my memory. Mildred, blind and lived alone, always asked me to put her kitchen cabinets back in order after her daughter visited. Margie, ninety-something with an Irish brogue, came down to the clinic, laughing as she told us how she chased away the prostitutes with her broom. The prostitutes frequently slipped into the building to solicit and rob the older men.
But Helen was my favorite. She lived in an apartment next to the clinic. She dropped in when I wasn’t busy. She called me Kiddo. She had one son who hardly visited but I rarely heard her complain—about anything. She was the one who taught me not to be uncomfortable talking about death.
Of course, I know older people live longer and are healthier than years ago. I now have the time to write, paint and play with grandchildren. I would like to go back in time and share my experiences of aging with Mildred, Margie and Helen. These resilient women would laugh when I tell them how I lost my first Medicare card.
I love this post. It makes me laugh!
I worked as a long term care nurse for several decades and never lost the soft place in my heart for the elderly. I wondered if when I became older myself that would change. I’m happy to say it hasn’t. I still feel older people are the most lovable.
I have found that those of us exposed to older folks when we are young support what you are saying. Thanks for commenting.
A discussion of aging is one of the most important a physician can have with a patient. There are “real, tried and true” ways of slowing the aging process and for a time, even reversing the process. As a chiropractor, we see many from the geriatric population. We have observed the behavioral characteristics associated with staying young, acting young and feeling young. Even more, we have coached people in these behaviors and we have seen astounding results. We have witnessed more flexibility, increased strength, improved balance, better ambulation, more independence etc. The aging process is characterized by three things. 1. loss of muscle mass and strength. 2. Loss of elasticity/flexibility. 3. Loss of joint health. We believe that the chiropractic lifestyle helps people to address these three important areas that are critically linked to “younger” health.
Read this article as well to get our take.
Dr. Charles L. Foster
Thank you for the reminding us of what we can do to stay active and continue to “feel young.”
Reblogged this on Nursing Stories and commented:
In keeping with the theme of my last two posts, this one reflects my ambivalence about aging.
Love the stories – so human!
Thanks. These women taught me so much about aging well.