By Barbara Pierce
You’ve changed as the years have ticked by. All lives change.
You may have changed gradually, barely perceptible. The changes and the deterioration are slow but sure, gaining momentum until they must be dealt with. Or, things may have changed suddenly for you, in ways you never expected.
The luckiest suffer small losses and minor health issues. Others face dire emergencies. Most fall in between the two extremes. We work harder at being healthy and yet we experience more and more illnesses and pain.
We suffer a setback, we forge on, and soon life becomes “normal” again — though maybe a new normal.
“This isn’t how my life was supposed to go!” I’ve said this and I’ve heard most of my friends say something similar.
For me, it was falling out of bed in the middle of the night with a stroke. I didn’t know the first thing about recovering. I didn’t know how to learn to walk again, to feed myself, and just go on, day-to-day.
Two years later, I had my chest cracked open — I didn’t know how to recover from open heart surgery.
Few are spared. Most of my friends are struggling.
Eighty-two-year-old Donna lost her husband to dementia. Exhausted by his care, she placed him in memory care where he died a few months ago.
A few weeks ago, she learned she has Parkinson’s disease, which will gradually rob her of her physical and mental abilities. She goes on, day by day. Mostly, by distracting herself. She keeps busy every minute to avoid thinking.
Seventy-one-year-old Carol, recently married, woke up bleeding from the rectum. Her new husband couldn’t do cancer — she’s struggling alone with a colostomy.
Grace’s husband has terminal cancer and she’s just been diagnosed with dementia. “I’m sorry Art and I can’t go on,” she said. “It’s a big change.
But I’ve got to do it. If I fall apart, things will be worse. I’ve got to go on, got to just keep taking one step at time.”
“Be ready for anything!” is Denise Filhan’s advice about aging. Filhan is co-owner of Daughter for Hire in the Mohawk Valley town of Clinton, assisting older folks, making it possible for them to stay in their home.
“Aging will present challenges, be ready for anything!”
Becoming older means a constant process of adjustment and accommodation. Adjustment to the changes that are inevitable.
Accommodating them as best we can.
When we were young, we learned ways that worked to help us cope when going through a difficult time. Now we need to remind ourselves of things that worked for us in the past.
I got through those bad times aging hurled at me, sometimes just minute by minute, hoping and praying that tomorrow would be better. And it usually was. And by doing all I could to resolve the issue facing me. When I did all I could, then accept it. And it helped me to remind myself of the huge obstacles I’d overcome in my younger life.
It is not the challenges that come with aging that will destroy us. It is the attitude with which we face these challenges that makes all the difference. We don’t get a choice in life of what happens to us, but we do get to choose how we respond.
“The great secret: One can change things by the manner in which one looks at them,” said author Tom Robbins.
We don’t get a choice about what happens to us. But we do get a choice in how we respond.
Complaining only makes things worse. “Keep your sense of humor and enjoy laughter no matter how you feel,” said my friend Sara Dick, 86.
Though she had many aches and pains, Sara always kept smiling.
“‘This isn’t how my life was supposed to go!’ I’ve said this and I’ve heard most of my friends say something similar.”
In his book “Coping with Adversity,” Michael J. Fox said: “It was only when I could accept the fact that I had Parkinson’s disease that I began to think what haven’t I lost? I haven’t lost my enthusiasm. I haven’t lost my intelligence. I haven’t lost my passion for life, my love of my family.” (Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 29.)
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars,” is an old Persian proverb.
You take one small step at a time, like the South American tribe who travel only at night. As they live in a rugged area dotted with steep cliffs, their night time journeys are dangerous. They carry makeshift lanterns that cast only enough light to see just one step ahead. By walking slowly, one step at a time, they keep from falling off a precipice.
Aging can be like that, you take one small step at a time, with the precipice dangerously close. You can also look into Online Past Life Regression Therapy Sessions to help you cope with changes.
You endure. You endure for one day more, because you must. Because there are others depending on you. You endure, because, maybe, things will be a little better tomorrow. And often they are.