Conversations About Old Age Are Depressing
"My husband and I are in our late 70s and struggling with our good fortune compared to so many of our friends and relatives with rapidly declining health.
Every phone call to a sibling or friend seems to be them unloading their litany of health issues. From cancer to heart failure, to broken bones and body part replacement. It’s non-stop health problems. We can only take so much.
No one seems to talk about what they did since we last spoke. No one talks about vacations, shows, house projects, or the usual stuff about grandkids. It’s all aches and pains. Everyone seems to be in that mode but us, and we’ve had enough.
Frankly, I don’t think anyone is even interested in what we’re up to. Do we just stop talking to our contemporaries?"
Please do not stop connecting with family and friends because you are active and well. You are one lucky couple that is doing what we all dream of in retirement. Unfortunately, not everyone’s plans play out that way.
The conversations you’re having are real and relevant. Being ill is all consuming for your loved ones. It’s normal and expected to discuss whatever it is that’s taking up all of one’s energy. It’s much like how a new mother recaps every detail of labor and delivery for weeks after the baby is born, even with those who have no interest in hearing the details of childbirth. It rarely seems to stop them from talking about it.
As you age, you’ll find that those your age and older have health issues. If they don’t tell you about their health incidents, you’ll wonder why they aren’t sharing with you. Indeed, it does remind you of your own mortality and gives you pause. At times, you’ll feel sad because of the change, let down, and likely fearful that you could be next. All these reactions are quite normal.
Do your best to let people talk and share their story. They need to get it out to someone who will listen. They’re under stress and a willing ear is soothing. Be that kind soul for them.
There is no way to be spared impact from the stories you hear of decline. You would have to be solid wall not to have any reaction. Let it make you a bit uncomfortable. Sit with that feeling a while. It will hopefully motivate you to care for your body like a shrine, by eating right, exercising regularly, drinking little, and getting enough sleep. You cannot prevent everything, but you can lessen the odds.
The most important thing you can do is listen, be supportive, and carry on with your activities.
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Nov 27, 2023