Ladies in their eighties, doing rather than done for

Posted: April 24, 2010 by datechguy in opinion/news, personal

One of the effects of the modern treatment of the elderly are the two extremes of leaving and ignoring them, or overdoing it so you are all over them doing everything.

To ignore the elderly is to give no value to their life or relationship to you, to overcompensate is to suggest that they are useless.

My wife has been having very nasty week of asthma attacks, she hasn’t been able to lay down and is constantly running out of breath. My mother and aunt called to see what was could be done.

If you say. No we are fine. That tells people: “You’re old we don’t want you.” If they come down and you have them just sit then you are saying: “Nice to see you now go to the corner since you aren’t of use.” Both choices just aren’t acceptable to me.

When they showed up, after a little visiting I gave them the job of scrambled eggs and bacon for the wife, a few dishes and my mother grabbed a load of laundry since it’s located right next to the sink.

Small jobs, very little work and two people doing it, but significant when you have two people with a combined age of 174.

That 15 minutes of work however in addition to showing me up in terms of breakfast cooking (I make the worst scrambled eggs in the world) was very important. It told two ladies who are used to doing for themselves that they are important and can contribute.

It’s a small thing, but it is in those small things that a person’s self respect is affirmed.

  1. I hope when I’m in my eighties (if I make it that long) that I can help out my kids by cooking them bacon and eggs! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mat says:

    As someone who’s worked with the elderly for 4 years now I think this assessment of the way the elderly are treated and the importance of allowing them chances to be and feel useful is spot on correct. Yet, even knowing this, my first reaction still probably would’ve been to turn down the offer for help thinking first of not wanting to put undue responsibility or strain on them- and that would’ve been the wrong thing to do at least in this instance.

    In the assisted living setting I work in, no elder is required to work, yet there are tasks available such as folding all the cloth napkins for the dining room.
    Even with individuals afflicted with considerable dementia, simple organizing tasks and such can be given that make them feel good even if no real value is provided to others.

    It’s easy for us in our daily struggles to meet responsibilities to assume that the elderly love being totally reprieved from them- but for most people this is not the case. This is a hard working generation that prided themselves in their labor and contribution. I believe that a huge cause of the rampant depression in the elderly is the loss or perceived loss of this from their lives.

    Kudos to DaTechGuy and we could all take a lesson from this example.

  3. Mat, both you and I know that there is no keeping those two women from helping out, no matter how much resistance is given. From what I hear these women don’t shy away from bouncy houses or dunk tanks either. I’ve seen the photos.

    Keep in mind this generation of women worked in the factories, maintained vehicles and aircraft, and raised families during WWII while the men were away fighting,.

    In a few years the generation that perservered through the Great Depression & World War II, then built our National Infrastructure of roads, bridges, electric, & telephone, etc. will all be dead.

    Where will we be then?

    Just look at their children & grandchildren. Kids these days have it easy. They are babied since birth (yes I am aware at birth you are a baby), grow up to have a I’m better than you attitude without having worked a hard day in their lives.

    Why? Because there is a lack of discipline. Kids can’t rough house while playing without risking suspensions at school. Parents can’t spank or discipline a child without risking being visited by the police and the children being put in protective custody. The perception of ‘my kids aren’t bad, it is a disorder that a pill can fix’ is how things are treated these days.

    Heck I remember hearing stories about nuns hitting people’s hands with rulers, ‘wait till your father gets home’, and branches being taken off trees to be used for discipline later.

    The younger generations had it easy. They blame everyone else and take no personal responsibility. They’ve run our country for the past 20 years.

    And we wonder how we got to this point.

  4. My grandfather (almost 83!) still cooks Sunday brunch for us! He does bacon, eggs, and French toast. He doesn’t always cook his own meals for himself – finding cooking for one to be tedious – but when I visit, we both make dinners and lunch.

    Some of his friends, who are in their mid-80s, volunteer at the hospital. :)

    My 78-year-old uncle still plays tennis and golf.

    Sitting around is for sissies.