何毓琦的个人博客分享 http://blog.sciencenet.cn/u/何毓琦 哈佛(1961-2001) 清华(2001-date)

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On Becoming Very Old 精选

已有 7191 次阅读 2017-2-13 22:19 |个人分类:生活点滴|系统分类:海外观察

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Being the only child, I took care of my Mother in her lastyears (she lived to 92). However, I must confess that her behavior in her lastyears are sometimes incomprehensible to me at the time. For example,

·        Extreme anxiety-she lived in an old age home where she has more friends. But she must get a call from me every day regardless where I was in the world

·        Inability to decide on small issues

·        Forgetfulness or little short term memory

She wasn’t demented and has a rather clear mind all the way to the end. But I always vowed  that I’ll try to avoid such behavior issues in my own old age. But having now lived beyond 83 years,  I begin to appreciate such behavior as a unavoidable and normal part of growing old. For example,

1.      While I can still be rational and control my anxiety, say regarding an upcoming trip, I do have anxiety  dreams more often which I suspect is a form of unconscious anxiety induced release.

2.      I start preparing for my annual China trip earlier and worry about forgetting some  crucial things to bring with me

3.      I do worry about should my wife of 58 year diebefore me. We live on a deadend street. The wives of my neighbor across thestreet and next door both passed away in the past four months. I see the difficulties of a husband trying to cope with life and a house alone.

4.      I need my calendar and posted notes everywhere to remind me of appointments  and things that need attention.

5.      We started to clean out junks in our house one year ago in preparation for downsizing.  However after some unsuccessful attempts, we just gave up the task and decided to stay put as long  as we can. Avoidance of such issues is basically leaving the problem to your children  and don’t want to know the outcome.

6.      I now fully appreciate what my Mother experienced in her last years are normal part of growing  very old in the US. In China, I suppose, with the strong family structure and orientation, and shorter lifespan,  this may be less of a problem(enlighten me ScienceNet readers if I am mistaken).  No wonder people characterize life in the US as “heaven for youngster, battle ground for the middle aged, and graveyard for the old”.




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