There is no doubt that my beloved Nan is in her twilight years. She is fast approaching her 94th birthday and is still going strong although her strength is slowly diminishing. As a family, the last 18 months have made us wonder how many more years will we be blessed with Nan in our lives? Around the world, there will be millions of families in the same position, all cherishing a loved one’s twilight years. It is a poignant time, but a time that we are grateful to have.
A Quality of Life
Nan has been lucky in so many ways. She has lived a fulfilled life and until recently has always been happy and upbeat. Like everyone, she has had to face difficult times in her life. She was brought up in an orphanage, lived and got married during the Second World War and was sadly widowed almost 32 years ago. She has always embraced life, leading a very social life, supported by the pillars of her faith. When she moved into her sheltered accommodation flat in 1987, she immersed herself into various activities, including volunteer work, knitting, helping my parents with childcare and housework, social committees, keep fit and carpet bowls, to name but a few. Being diagnosed with osteoporosis very late in life and twice breaking her wrist, did not get in her way. As she approached her 80’s and 90’s she readily adapted her life, accepting limitations as they came along. She had her social life, faith and most importantly the love of an ever-growing family.
Over the last 18 months, things started to change but it was not immediately noticeable. After a stay in hospital in January last year, she struggled to bounce back to her former, vibrant self. It was only after we reflected on a second hospitalisation in January this year that we fully understood how much she was changing. Nan started having falls in her home and seemed to be getting quite confused. She had been forgetful for quite some time, but that goes with the territory of aging. She was eventually diagnosed with water on her brain. This was affecting her mobility, memory and also her behaviour. She was beginning to demonstrate childlike behaviour and possible signs of depression. Nan was spending more and more time in her flat. Although family and carers were in and out all day, she was complaining of being lonely. A very difficult decision had to be made for Nan to move into a home so that she can receive the 24-hour care she is beginning to need. With that, we wanted somewhere that could bring back her quality of life and social interaction.
Making New Memories
Nan is now settling into her new home. It’s a beautiful house, set in landscaped gardens. There are daily activities such as pet therapy, arts, crafts, quizzes and games. All these things will lift Nan’s spirits and bring back her enjoyment of life. She will no longer be lonely as she makes new friends. It’s very reassuring for us that Nan will continue to enjoy her life and now when we spend time together, we will be able to make new memories. I look forward to taking her out for a short drive somewhere, stopping off for a bite to eat or cup of tea. It’s a chance to reminisce about the wonderful years that we have shared. I love to ask her about the past, bringing back memories that bathe her in light and happiness. These moments are cherished and could last for years to come, but they will end at some point. Making the most of every opportunity will be crucial to our grieving process when Nan, eventually moves on to the next phase of her being.
Dignity for the Elderly
I can’t begin to imagine how Nan must be feeling. Her independence is slowly slipping from her fingertips. More than ever, she needs the continued unconditional love of our family. Not all old people are so fortunate to have that love or be in a position to choose where they spend their twilight years. Aging is not exempt from cost. For many, their twilight years are literally spent in God’s waiting room, their lives already becoming a distant memory that some are already forgetting, almost to the point of dismissal. It’s vital that we treat each and everyone of them with the dignity that they deserve. At times, I find myself falling into the trap of talking to Nan like a child. I quickly have to check myself and change my tone and pitch. Yes, she may behave childlike at times, but she is lucid and fully aware of what I am saying. Even when she is feeling down and tearful, Nan still says that we have our own lives but that won’t deter me from spending as much time as possible with her. I will cherish her twilight years and I hope that she will too.
About the author: Stuart Dickson’s passion for personal development began in September 2013, when he joined a Network Marketing Company. Part of his development is increasing his spirituality and the many ways of doing this. His first blog, Happy Monday People was born from a project that came about from his personal development journey facebook.com/Happylifepeople
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