Today marks the 11th day of rehab in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), following an acute hospital stay for pneumonia. I was watching television this morning and during a commercial break for a drug that is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, the pharmaceutical company made it clear that the drug was not appropriate for youngsters and the elderly . . . and I start thinking, Am I the “elderly?”
Cut to a memory of me in high school, reading George Orwell’s 1984, saying to myself, It’s’ only 1968 — it’s hard to believe I’ll be around in 1984.
But, as fate would have it, I did survive. And then some.
And when Lennon, McCartney, et al. asked, ‘Will you still need me; will you still feed me, when I’m 64,” never, in my wildest dreams did I believe I’d make it to this, my 64th year.
But I still don’t know what “elderly” means.
One thing, however, has become crystal clear during these last 64 years — the American long-term care system is on the cusp of a great transition.
Collapsing in on itself, is a 100-year old top-down management system that warehouses our parents until they die — filling their days with “activities” to help keep them busy and entertained.
Baby Boomers will demand more. As we should.
We will create Intentional Communities, designed from the ground up with the latest in assistive technologies; operated for the well-being of its residents, not the profitability of shareholders.
In the interim, I will continue my daily Occupational and Physical Therapy, and with any luck, I’ll be assessed by someone from my assisted living facility in the next couple of days. Standing, walking, pivoting: prerequisites for returning to my home and extended family.
Just enough time to ask a couple of 95-year old residents of this SNF what “elderly” means?
Zach Robinson says
Hi. I am a student of an Agining 200 course at UMBC. I think that the attitude toward aging expressed in this post is one of the best. Who decides when you’re elderly? Nobody but you. People should remain in control of their lives and their healthcare throughout their lives, including into old-age. What does it mean to be ‘elderly’ if you still retain the ability to take care of yourself and enjoy your life in independence? What does it mean to be elderly even if some amounts of that independence is lost? It’s what you make of it. What Mr. Bayne describes as the system that ‘warehouses’ the elderly is dying as more people engage themselves in their own aging. Let your life course continue through old age. There’s no reason to sit back and let some bureaucrats tell you that you’re ‘old’ and decide what you do with your time when you reach some arbitrary number of years. You’re in control of what you do and what you can do. Be proactive with your time and your energy. Don’t do the physical therapy because the doctor needs to ‘approve’ you to return home. Do the physical therapy because it will make you feel better and because it will allow you to live more independently and happily. The emphasis being made here is to take and retain control of what you do and how you live as you age. Don’t fall into complacency. Engage yourself in your life. Create these ‘Intentional Communities.’ Don’t be taken advantage of. Live your life for you and don’t stop because someone, somewhere thinks that being ’64’ makes you an ‘elder.’