In my last blog, I talked about dealing with aging. Now, we are going to talk about dealing with losses as you age. Studies have shown that many older adults fear losing independence more than they fear death. Old age can be seen as a chain of losses both gradual and sudden. As we get older, we are at risk of losing the following things:
- Loss of physical abilities-not being able to get around, being unable to climb stairs, walk for long or even sometimes short periods, bending over, lifting objects, etc. A lot of people feel angry or betrayed that their bodies are failing them. Many lash out at loved ones or caregivers in resentment while others feel sad or afraid.
- Loss of sensory abilities-hearing, seeing, touching, taste, and smell all decline as we age. These types of losses can hinder socialization with others and cause frustration when trying to perform activities of daily living
- Loss of friends/family members due to their deaths, or moving away from your home, etc. A lot of people retire and move to places like Florida or they are placed into nursing homes. The person can lose long time neighbors who are friends and members of the community they are affiliated with like pastors, store clerks, etc.
- Loss of interest/enjoyment in activities. Imagine if you have always loved reading and your eyesight declines so bad that you can’t do it anymore or you have always loved gardening and now due to muscle weakness/stamina you can no longer do the work. This can be very frustrating and disheartening.
- Loss of driver’s license/ability to drive can take away your independence immediately. Not being able to get in the car and go to the store, to the bowling alley, to doctor’s appointments and having to rely on someone else or public transportation can be devastating and debilitating.
- Loss of career from retirement. Most retirees feel lost after retirement. They feel they don’t have a purpose anymore, they lose their important status and titles they had when working (like High School Principal, Business Executive, Librarian), they lose time spent with friends who were coworkers, etc.
- Loss of feeling wanted, important and needed: loved ones get busy and visit less often, loss of physical capabilities makes you feel like you can’t do what you used to so no one can rely on you like before, etc.
Fear, anger, guilt and confusion are common feelings you could have when dealing with these kind of losses. Stop feeling that way. The following tips are ways to deal:
- Be comfortable asking for help
- Understand that your loss of independence is normal at your age and it is not a personal failure. It’s okay to feel sad and frustrated but don’t look down on yourself as the reason you can no longer do some things
- Help your family understand by communicating your feelings with them
- Listen to your family’s suggestions on how to make things easier for you
- Find other hobbies/interests of things you can participate in…explore new things
- Take one day at a time
- Volunteer somewhere in something you can do and start feeling needed again
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but with the right attitude, flexibility, and belief in yourself you can overcome all these obstacles and still have a great quality of life. Life is what you make of it and its waiting to be lived.