When, as an elder, I stop and focus on the type of person who inhabited this body and mind in my early earth years, it gets fuzzy. Is it the perception of me about me, or others about me that I remember. It really doesn’t matter much, except the part of me that was always decisive and felt powerful can now feel very far removed from the present me.
For a year or so I have given in to the idea of upgrading my condo and enjoy the new light rail a block away, neighbors I know and get ready to age in place. Then, I realized that could be 15 years of living in the same place, looking at the same non-existent view and eventually having a boring existence instead of the living fully until dying way Ithat is more my style.
A month of introspection followed that thought and a plan is emerging. There will be numerous family members and friends who will want me to take the safer and saner way of planning, but, if I remember, my younger self never let that stop her. Not all my decisions were practical, but at each turn of the long road I learned what I needed to.
One of the major issues of course is finances–my poor choices resulted in those worries being carried along into old age. But, I have enough–except in an inflated housing market. One of the fall outs from any plan may be moving to a storage shed in Iowa.
This was not going to be something that I wrote about in a blog, but I am not the only widowed women this impacts…actually any woman period.
In several months when the plan is in place I will write an update and hopefully have some information to share that may help you or friends to expand their thinking.
The past two weeks that included the release of the movie, based on the book, The Glass Castle, has had me thinking about dysfunction in general, and of course in elders. Loving mysteries, my first thought about the subject was that every homicide detective is dysfunctional in some major way. While I may love the plot and the setting and the minor characters and the red herrings, it gets very boring to see that the psychological dysfunctions do not improve much in a series of novels.
It would be enjoyable for me to see that Barbara Havers, in the Margaret George novels, had learned how to dress and do her hair as a professional woman, as opposed to the ragamuffin look she favors…..because she is lazy about herself and giving her all to the job? The author could invent another dysfunction since all humans have them, especially it seems, the ones on the front lines of human stupidity, i.e. killing, violence, hurting living things in general.
Quirky is different from full-blown dysfunction. Quirky can be charming and fun and when you read or watch a show or movie for entertainment it is almost a required character trait for someone. We sometime hear or see words on the page that are important to the plot coming from the quirky one. So how does a person with “normal” quirks versus one with dysfunctions impact us in reality? As elders how do we deal with the continued or worsening dysfunctions of family and friends or even society?
After conversations with several only slightly dysfunctional friends, my take is this: If the person has enough redeeming behaviors and attitudes and is aware of the dysfunctions that are harmful to the world, who am I to judge beyond what my standards have become? We forgive or tend to minimize traits that are balanced by either the greater good of a person or society or a physical or temporary situation. In a relationship we tend to balance each other out with a physically stronger one taking over outdoor chores and one of the techies in the family helping everyone.
We can moan about the “lack of a functional city council” and then use the democratic process to remedy it. A friend has a stroke and when the physical therapist says you can help by listening to a less than perfect speech pattern from him/her, you figure out how to develop patience–which the lack of has become almost a dysfunction for you. We adapt and adjust and survive until the malfunctions are too much for us and we withdraw. Level and severity impacts our decisions.
The fictional homicide detectives are divorced, alienated from parents and children, drink too much, sleep in their clothes and have few social skills with peers. But, they do their jobs, speak for the victim and are necessary in a society of the numerous dysfunctionals in the book.
While life is not a novel, reading can give you examples about how differently minded people deal with reality and disaster and those around them who may reflect the people we know who are beyond our help. Balancing your own systems going into meltdown is the number one priority for the exceptional elder. Put on your oxygen mask first.