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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

Outliving our parents

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I have been without one of my hearing aids for about three weeks. If you noticed me having a more confused look than usual it was because of the malfunction of my ears without their helpers. One was still working but somehow that didn't help very much.

During that time while I was waiting for repairs, I led a class at the Road Scholar program over near Potosi. (They used to be called Elderhostels.) In the joke telling session I was at a handicap since I usually present a theme, such as professional jokes, tell one that I have prepared and then ask for the class to share ones they enjoy. If I didn't get to them quickly enough with the mike I was often left wondering if I should laugh or pretend shock.

The members who insisted they didn't need the mike really messed me up. I am a firm believer that everyone should use a mike when it is available. Those who insist that they have a strong voice don't know how that strong voice might sound to someone with a hearing problem.

But back to my problem. As I drove away from the clinic this week, with both ears well equipped, I realized for the first time why many in our generation have lived to an older age than our parents did. It is because we don't have to put up with many of the disabilities of old age.

When I couldn't hear well I didn't enjoy going anywhere. I couldn't hear the minister, the club members, the passengers in my car, dining companions, or especially the TV. It was easier to stay home and read the newspaper or books, and do crossword puzzles.

But my eyes worked well because I have had cataract surgery. My parents did not have that privilege so as their eyesight failed, as well as their hearing, they gave up reading. I don't think either of them ever did crossword puzzles very much. My mother enjoyed playing Chinese Checkers but that wasn't much fun by herself, even though she would play one color against another one.

I also enjoy walking around our lawn or sitting out on our deck and watching the pond life. I have not had any trouble with my joints so I can walk easily. Many older people don't have that ability, but they can now go get a new knee or hip so that they can again enjoy a short walk, or can walk well enough to take care of themselves or the house.

My Grandmother Gray died as the results of a broken hip. Now she could have it repaired, be up and about and enjoy life again.

Sometimes things in our inside innards don't work correctly. Doctors can prescribe medicines which were unknown several years ago to make the troubles go away. Or if the meds don't help there is always the option of surgery to repair, take out or replace the troubled organ. After that many people can again eat the food they enjoy and not worry about being uncouth in public settings.

Even the fact that almost any place we would want to go has convenient inside restrooms makes life easier. I remember car trips where the so called restroom was a one holer, unheated, that you reached from the outside of a filling station. The new convenience stores often have very nice two or three holer restrooms right inside the building.

When it was too much trouble, too painful, embarrassing, or just dull to live life to the fullest, it sometimes didn't seem worth the effort to keep on keeping on. When life had lost its appeal, it was easier to give up. Therefore those of us blessed by modern technology can go sailing on into old age with no hesitation.

You may notice there is one area that I haven't mentioned. I would tell more about it, but I can't remember what it was. But I don't think they have a cure for it yet anyway.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus