Caregiver thoughts #6

There are a lot of reasons one might need someone to care for them, and varying degrees of all of them. Someone might have a disability (permanent or temporary). They may be ill (temporarily, chronically, or terminally). They may be at one extreme or the other of age (very, or somewhat, young, or old). So. I should mention that the reason my cared-for needs a caregiver is because of “advanced age”

What do you call someone in that condition? Many of the terms that get thrown around carry connotations that fail to appreciate the variety and complexity of things that condition entails. “Elderly”. “Senior Citizen”. “Aged”. “Geezer”. Just plain “old”. They all carry stereotypes that over-simplify the needs and problems of these folks. So, maybe I’ll use “advanced age”, or “one of many seasons”, just to have a term with minimal baggage.

Lest we lose perspective, it’s not all needs and problems. These people have unique capabilities too. Wisdom is something that tends to come with advancing age. Providing an anchor for the family. Giving witness to history that the rest of us never experienced (your orders: go talk to the advanced-age people around you and learn and record history first-hand). Or just being around to sign for that package at the house or meet the cable guy.

It’s often made into a joke that people of many seasons seem obsessed with things like digestion and bowel movements and even just getting up. There’s a good reason for this. When you’re younger, these things are pretty much automatic. You don’t give them any thought. Later on, these things become difficult and require attention and conscious effort. Something like walking is done with great care and planning to ensure a safe transit. Medications become necessary and require careful management. And, if you live long enough, you will have had enough problems with these things that you no longer take them for granted.

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