Ageing and denial go hand in hand in Ireland today.
My father used to say “Gosh, so and so has got very old looking, not realising that he was getting old looking himself!”
I think that denial is a mixture between being too busy, too stressed and being too vain. Nobody wants to admit that their youthful looks are fading, that they feel they have to die their hair grey or that they are losing their hair. And these are only the outward signs. It may be because society puts a premium on youthfulness. Irish legends tell of Oisin in the land of Tir na nOg and the poor children of Lir who were turned into swans for a thousand years only to emerge as very old people at the end of the story.
But in the real world a reluctance to admit to ageing can be about whether you have met society’s expectations. Did you have children by this date or get promoted by that date? Who is in charge of your life – you or other people? Maybe you decided that you wanted to live abroad or live in a caravan by the sea or move out of the city for a more balanced life. And that is your right. You don’t have to justify your decisions to other people. The majority of people play it safe – they don’t want to rock the boat. They make promises that they will do this or do that when the children leave home or when they retire. And women are the worst of all for postponing their happiness in favour of other people.
Not wanting to admit your age may be because have regrets about what you did not achieve in your life. As people get into their seventies and eighties they can get depressed especially if they are suffering from ill health and cannot do the things they used to do. They do not want to be dependent upon other people or have to consider going into a senior home. But suffering is not an inevitable part of ageing – if you are in good health and financially secure you may be very content in older age – you no longer have the daily grind – having to go out to work everyday and you are probably not responsible for rearing (and paying for ) your children. The mortgage will be paid off and if you have been prudent you will have a regular pension.
If you plan your retirement and consider the scenarios that may arise as you get older there will be no need to worry. In an ideal world you should be proactive and appoint a family member to be your attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney. They will make decisions for you if you are unable to do so. This also has the advantage of making clear to the family who is in charge of your affairs. It is risky to leave it to the last minute to do this incase you get dementia or a brain injury. And I don’t want to be morbid but these things happen. Is it fair to leave your family to struggle to provide care or organise care for you when you have not left clear instructions? And for people who don’t have family they can rely on they can ask a friend to step into the breach. It is also wise to consider making an Advance Healthcare Directive as part of your plan involving care for the elderly.
Ageing and denial in Ireland is part of life and whilst ill health is difficult, when it comes to the crunch most people will do anything to prolong their lives and they are generally keen to remain independent and avoid having to go to a senior home for as long as possible. They often do not consider senior living or care of the elderly to be issues that apply to them.
Ultimately recognising that you are ageing means that you are getting closer to the end of your life. And that is very scary for a lot of people. and they do not like to dwell on this or think about an eldercare home. But it is not something that we have any control over. Ageing and denial are not happy bedfellows. My own view is that I would like my older years to be as comfortable as possible. I would like to know that I have no financial worries and that I am safe and secure. I would like to be healthy for as long as possible. And planning for that starts now.
If you would like to discuss your eldercare needs please go to www.emerlavineldercare.ie and complete the contact form to send an email.