Being old does NOT mean your brain doesn’t work!

You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old. -George Burns
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I look forward to being older, when what you look like becomes less and less an issue and what you are is the point. -Susan Sarandon
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On Wednesday, I took my 86 yr. old grandmother to an ‘anti-coagulation’ clinic to check the levels of her blood thinning medication to make sure it was at the right level. Too high and she could have serious internal bleeding if she gets so much as a bruise; too low and she could get a blood clot. When we got there I noticed that all the patients were geriatric patients. I myself am very comfortable around the elderly. From the time I was a little girl, there were always elderly people around me because I had all my great-grandparents most of my life. Naturally, I was quite comfortable around all these elderly people in the waiting room and immediately struck up a conversation with a few of them. I have great respect for the elderly. It’s always so intersting to hear their stories of their life or the advice they have to give. I’m very lucky that my grandmother is still very lucid for her age. She can see shadow and light but is considered blind; she is going deaf but I swear if I try to whisper something in her company she can hear me; her feet are the size of cantaloupes from having gout, but she still makes a point to go outside and walk with her walker for 15 minutes everyday, no matter how bad the pain is. She is extremely smart and her brain is sharp as a tack. She worked as an RN for the same doctor for over 40 years. When she no longer could work as an RN, she worked in the front office for this doctor until she was 78 yrs old! You can’t put anything over on her, that’s for sure! So when I see someone treat her, or any senior citizen like they’re a five year old who has no clue as to what is going on, I get really angry. After the nurse checked my grandmother’s blood levels at the clinic, a young female doctor came it to talk to her. This was my grandmother’s first visit to this clinic after moving to this area. The doctor was looking at her chart on the counter, so this put her back to my grandmother. With her back still to my grandma, she told her that her blood levels were just fine. Naturally, my grandma couldn’t hear her, so I repeated it to her loud enough for her to hear. My grandma had listed all the medications she took, the miligram levels, and how often she took them. Turning to me, the doctor then said next time she came in she wanted my grandma to bring in all her medications so she could see them because it was natural for someone her age to not really remember everything and she was sure she had forgotten something on the list. Well, she didn’t. I know what she takes and how strong and how often because I get her medication for her and I keep a list with me all the time just in case something were to happen to her and the information is needed. I repeated to my grandma what the doctor wanted her to do. Well, the elderly can become defensive easily, and sometimes rightfully so. My grandma then told the doctor, quite indignantly, that the list was correct and she didn’t miss anything. Again, the doctor turns to me and states that she still needs her to bring them in. She was now starting to irritate me. I told her if this is what she needed then perhaps she should talk to the patient, not me. She then turns to my grandma, and in a voice like she was speaking to a 5 yr. old, asks her, “Lucile, do you know why you take medication?”. Once again my grandma could not hear her and asked her what she had said. The doctor then turned to me to repeat the question, but I stopped her. “She’s not slow, she’s deaf. She didn’t hear you. Ask her again, but this time talk to her like the adult that she is and not like the five year old you seem to think she is”. She was taken aback by this and I was damn glad. This is an office full of geriatric patients. How many other patients did she talk to like this?? I know there are some elderly people out there who don’t have their full faculties about them and they may need to be spoken to like a small child, but one cannot assume they are all like that! (You know what they say about assume…). I know from hearing from my grandmother and her two brothers and sisters, who are older than her and still very much alive and functioning, that even though they are old on the outside that they still feel like they are in their 20’s on the inside. As my uncle always says, “I’m an old man outside, but I’m still a dapper young man on the inside!”. They deserve the same respect that you or I would get when going to a doctor or talking to any other adult. Their body may betray them, but their minds still work. Needless to say, as we were leaving the office, I spoke to the office manager about what had occured. I told her that what this doctor did was disrespectful and if this is how she treats her patients, maybe she should work in pediatrics instead. She then told me she doesn’t work there very often and was filling in for someone. She said she would forward my complaint on to the doctor in charge of the office. I certainly hope she does. So in your travels this weekend, if you see an elderly person, no matter if they’re in a wheelchair or using a walker, smile and say hello. I always do. Even my kids do this. Thankfully, like me, they’ve always been around my grandma, aunts and uncles and don’t know any different. They are very comfortable around them and my 9 yr. old will always go out of his way to help them with something if he sees they may need some help. You have no idea how happy it will make them when they’re acknowledged, even with just a hello. So remember our senior citizens. They helped shape our world and deserve our respect. Now, go make a great day everyone!

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