The travails of old age

“Don’t ever get old” says Doreen. She is not coping well. “I lie awake at night crying my eyes out”. Old age and frailty, something that creeps up on you. You lead an independent life and one day find yourself at the mercy of others. An infection is all it takes to knock the wind out of your sails. A few days in a care-home was enough to depress her. She wants to go home as soon as possible.

Norman, her husband, is coping better. He loses balance easily and is worried about falling over. He hasn’t ventured far from home for a while now. This lack of confidence is upsetting Doreen even further. She is unhappy with life in general.

The lack of hope, the feeling that life will never be the same again, the lack of control, is this what old age is all about. The time when regrets creep in. The lack of children, which was never an issue before is now starting to haunt them.

The stench of urine as you enter the building, the call alarm button which has not been reset and is constantly buzzing with a irritating tone, the sterile furniture and the colourful curtains which are failing to brighten up the place are all distracting my attention. The staff are very friendly but is this how it all ends? A rosy ending, that’s what we hope for. Yet what life has in store for us, nobody knows.

They are glad to see us. After the initial niceties, they tell us their woes. Doreen bickers with Norman, who takes it all in his stride. They’ve been together for almost 70 years and he is used to it. The dissatisfaction with life is much too evident. We stay awhile and then it is time to go. We say our goodbyes and tell them that we will be back to visit soon. As we leave, I wonder, if this is us in thirty years time.

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