Aged Appreciation

UnknownAppreciation: thankful recognition or gratitude

Although Mom passed away 8 years ago from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, a belated appreciation of her has slowly blossomed, especially in the past couple of years. At random moments, I’ve experienced an unmistakable yearning to hug her tenderly and voice my gratitude one more time. In earlier years, I sometimes seemed to lack the ability to show my appreciation in a way that she could relate.

She was born in a time of little. As a child, farm work was the only extra-curricular activity she experienced outside of school. On the other hand, while I was growing up as the only child still at home, it was quite the opposite. Mom did everything in her power to offer me as many experiences and opportunities as possible in our small town. At various times Continue reading

Imagine

According to Albert Einstein, “Imagination … is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”[1]

images-3It was late afternoon when my doorbell rang. I peeked carefully out the window and there stood a clean-cut young man. I thought, “Uh oh, a magazine salesman,” but something moved me to open the front door anyway.

“Hi, My name is Mikhail.” He turned slightly to point behind him at the sidewalk steps leading up onto the walkway to our front porch. “I’ve long admired those steps and I’m wondering if it would be all right to stand on them next Saturday when I propose to my girlfriend?”

“Whaat?” That wasn’t what I’d expected him to say. Far from it! “You want to propose on the steps leading up to our walkway?” Was I hearing correctly? This was a first!

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Empowering patients to understand their health

It is my pleasure to welcome guest blogger, Nathanael Geman, Co-Founder & CEO of the new medical search engine for patients, MedNexus.

new_logo_resizedExciting new developments are happening in Medicine every day but patients are flooded with information and cannot keep up with the latest evidence. Navigating the sea of information available online can be daunting at best, and dangerous at worst.

A close family member of mine has been suffering from Crohn’s Disease for over 15 years. He was struck in his mid twenties and had to undergo countless surgeries. His journey from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital without any relief highlights the lack of consensus on courses of treatment and the heterogeneity of care. After years of looking for a long-term solution to help manage recurring infections, he came upon an online article highlighting a simple day-to-day approach that immediately provided relief. This was not a Continue reading

An Encore For Love

4This post must begin with a confession…for a good part of my life I believed “older” people lived on a different emotional planet, an asexual planet devoid of romance, free from desire. It didn’t seem feasible to me that someone in midst of their golden years could actually experience all those tingly feelings that come from the infatuation of a new love. However, I also never deduced exactly when it was that this human characteristic was lost, but certainly by the 8th or  9th decades! Surely the feelings experienced when pheromones flooded our bloodstream were limited to those of us under a certain age. Surely.

I am elated to report, with the bold crash of a dozen cymbals, how gravely mistaken I was. It’s been with a sense of pure delight that I’ve been witness to my dear friend and neighbor falling in love. Oh, did I mention that she’s at the tail end of her 70’s  and he’s in his mid-80’s? Even though they’re now further along life’s path, her description of the emotions experienced strike me as precisely the same feelings as anyone who’s ever fallen in love.

I’ve learned there’s even a scientific explanation for these feelings and it’s all about brain Continue reading

Transformative Touch

images-2Did you know that as we grow older, our sense of touch diminishes? Sure, I knew that eyesight and hearing often decline, along with our sense of smell and taste, but it was news to me that our sense of touch declines as well. According to a recent *article in AARP, by the time we’re 80, we’ve only a quarter of the touch receptors we had at 20. Because it’s so gradual, many of us may not even notice this loss. While our sense of touch may lessen, our need for touch certainly doesn’t!

Think of what happens to infants that are left untouched–they often do not survive. All human beings need touch. That includes the elderly. Sadly, something else that often diminishes over time is the opportunity for touch. Spouses die, children and grandchildren are far away and the elderly often find themselves living a singular, mostly “untouched” life.

Both my parents had dementia. Mom had Alzheimer’s and Dad, Parkinson’s-related dementia. They lived nearby me in an assisted living facility and I clearly remember what Continue reading

Beside the Point

Redundancy: superfluous, unnecessary, extraneous, beside the point

Unknown

An encounter while visiting my daughter and her family gave me my first-ever opportunity to personally experience age-related redundancy. Never before have I felt so beside the point.

One afternoon,  we walked to a nearby park. Her family had lived in the area for only a few weeks, so there were lots of new people to meet. One of those new neighbors and her children were at the park too, and we began a conversation. First came the introductions. That past, the neighbor looked directly at my daughter and said, “So, how long will your mother be here?” as I stood right beside her, suddenly feeling like chopped liver. It jolted me. Hadn’t I read about this…the marginalization of the elderly? Wow. Was I now an “elderly?” This alone was tough to swallow, without suddenly also feeling I’d become invisible. My daughter answered the woman’s question, while I was left speechless and staring. Quickly searching my own memory, I wondered if I’d ever treated someone this way. It was with a sense of remorse I realized that I was, indeed, guilty. As caregiver to my parents, how many times had I disrespected them, talking over their heads with health care providers or caregivers, treating Mom and Dad as if they were superfluous? How unthinkingly easy it had been! Continue reading