All about the Hardships Older Adults Face
"Despite the arrival of a new generation of elderly people, older age is still accompanied by a series of hardships and anxieties, some of which are minor but disturbing, and some of which are very significant, unfortunately, these are problems that the younger generation finds difficult to understand ..."
With these words, Avraham Alon, a senior resident specializing in sheltered housing and quality of life issues in the elderly, starts his explanation of the difficulties that people may experience in old age. From his words, we can learn about the difficult feelings that may be abundant at this age…
Let's begin with the seemingly "small stuff"
"Technical problems" at home - Late in the evening an elderly widow sits in her apartment and reads. It begins to grow dark out and the woman gets up to turn on the light. Nothing happens ... It is not clear to her whether the problem is general or in the apartment itself, and in the meantime, it’s getting darker. The woman, who is inexperienced in such situations, calls up the electricity company only to be told that “there are no reports of blackouts in your area.”
The woman is in distress, what will she do now? Will the next-door neighbor be able to leave her home for a few minutes to help? Maybe she should call her son who lives in another city? But what could he do? She recalls that the same son had previously referred her to another call center which deals with electrical malfunctions. She gropes her way through the dark and in the dim light reads the phone number. A courteous agent answers her call and politely ends the conversation: "Please wait patiently, we will do our best to help you." That’s it. Now she has nothing left to do but sit and wait. There’s no light, no radio, no television, nothing to do until a "savior" comes. A similar scenario will also occur as a result of other problems, such as a leaky faucet, a broken refrigerator, and so on.
Loss of balance – He usually feels safe while walking. He maintains proper posture, doesn’t walk too fast, is careful near wet areas. However, surprisingly, he fell in his home - when he walked to his refrigerator he suddenly slipped, but luckily his hand was able to reach the back of the chair nearest him. At his age though, his hands aren’t as strong as they once were, so he suddenly feels himself lying flat on the floor. 'How do I get up?' He asks himself and immediately replies, ‘Alone’...
"A slight flu" - He is overcome by a nagging weakness that doesn’t go away even after two days, but "it happens from time to time at my age," he thinks. Then he feels his temperature rising, so he sits down with a dirty old thermometer in his mouth and keeps time. Since he can’t remember how long he needs to wait, and he isn’t sure if he should wait for a beep, he decides to wait five minutes, then another five minutes. Then he takes the thermometer out of his mouth, puts on his glasses and looks at the number displayed. "A hundred point four degrees," he reads to himself. “Should I see a doctor? Should I take something to reduce the fever?” In the absence of medical advice or a person who takes his complaints seriously, he decides to go to sleep. 'Maybe by morning, it’ll pass ...'
"A dull loneliness" – She’s been down in the dumps for a week now - in fact, she has no desire for anything. At her age, she was told, it happens to everyone. So she moves from sitting in her armchair to the kitchen ('a cup of tea can’t hurt'), from there to the TV (‘what annoying news'), from there to the window (‘the scenery doesn’t change, and the people don’t change'). She remembers that her best friend passed away a month ago and that the rooms are empty because all her children are busy worrying about their lives and their families. The social club the woman had gone to in the morning seemed boring and monotonous to her, so she probably won’t be going anymore. "What do we do with this life now?" She asks herself, unable to think of an answer.
And now to the really “big stuff”
Family, social and image status: How are the elderly "perceived" by their family and social environment - "What do they even know about me?"
Decreased memory: "Do I have Alzheimer's or is it just old age?"
Sleep problems: "All night I toss and turn and go to the bathroom"
Communication with younger family members: The gaps between generations only grow as technology advances. "Don’t talk fast and swallow your words, it's hard for me to understand you."
The external appearance: Wrinkles, hunched back, slow walking, falling hair, depending on a cane or walker - "My body was once beautiful and strong."
The lack of acceptance of aging: This is the internal rebellion of body and mind against the effects of time that can’t be stopped.
What can be done to change the situation?
Despite all the differences between the lifestyle of the elderly in the modern world and those that lived a few decades ago, their lives are far from perfect. It is especially hard for them to see how much younger people don’t understand their difficulties and thoughts, and it is even harder for these young people to understand what the elderly are saying. All parties involved must remember that extending life expectancy gives people many more years to live, but not necessarily quality of life. After reaching retirement age, the person faces many years in which they are not what they once were and are now anxious about what will happen.
This situation requires the world, both young and old, to focus on the issue of the distress and concerns of the elderly, to help them cope with their age difficulties and to find a remedy - even partially - for their distress. The way to this goal begins first and foremost with understanding the difficulties presented in this article, especially the "small stuff" described in the first part. In addition, remember that the medical progress we all enjoy doesn’t really make a difference in quality of life at an older age. The responsibility lies with each and every one of us, and we must remember that although this seems to be a complex and difficult task, all that is needed to complete it is a supportive shoulder, an attentive ear, a caressing hand and an awareness of all the issues raised in the article.