Cronehood: Aging Gracefully Or Just Aging?
Author: Rev. etain.butterfly
I am enjoying my Cronehood journey and wish I could say the same for many of our aging population. What I am observing and I must say it is a concern to me…why do people of age want to home in on talking about their illness (s) and making it their main topic of conversation? I can understand when a crisis happens, there is a new diagnosis that is heavy on their mind and that there stages they go through (shock, grieving, barter, and acceptance) , however I am not talking about this. I am talking about the need to focus on the aging process as a loss and a ‘giving up’ instead of looking at it for what it is… a process that can offer freedom and joys. Let me give you some examples.
A friend of mine is a diabetic and he has this condition because of many years of not paying attention to what he ate and the amount of what he ate. He continued to gain weight and the signs started showing up that he was near developing Type II Diabetes at age 58. When he had a chance to correct the situation by diet alone, he still made bad decisions about his food intake. Then he was given the devastating news that he was now a full fledge diabetic that must take insulin.
I was very patient when he learned he had to change his eating habits, monitor his blood sugar, and learn to give himself insulin shots. I understood it would take him time to adjust, so his constant talking and yes, even complaining, was expected. As a friend, it was my job to help him through this transition and give him the needed support to ease all the changes that he would have to go through.
So, here’s his story now. He’s 68 years old and has had this condition for several years. He continues to make this health issue his topic of conversation even when things are going really well. The fact is, he has had this condition for 10 years and has chosen to play the ‘poor me scenario’. His doctor has provided him with excellent information and several resources to help him cope. He always needs to announce to anyone and everyone in earshot that he is a diabetic and then goes into the same old routine of boring them to death with details of his blood sugar and his eating routine. An example of his usual conversation…
”Oh my blood sugar is 100 and that is good but usually it is higher than that. Gosh, what do you think that means? Should I call the doctor? Maybe I should eat a candy bar to get it higher. What do you think? I will have to check it again later. Maybe I should call my daughter.”
He has a daughter who is an RN and he is driving her bonkers. When I am around him, I end up tuning him out when he starts this nonsense. Now I find myself avoiding him because I am sick of hearing his persistent complaining. It is taking a toll on my psychic energy. In other words, it sucks the life right out of me and, after visiting with him, I am tired and so ready to take a nap.
I see this with other Crones also. They talk about their arthritic aches and pains plus stiffness in their joints as much as they do about the changes in the weather. These are chronic conditions, meaning they will experience this from time to time, and talking about it obsessively won’t change a thing.
At what point do people decide that the aging process means they need to constantly talk about their health issues? At what point do they stop engaging in healthier topics of conversation? What are the reasons for this shift in how they converse with people and, more importantly, do they even realize how depressing this whole routine is?
One reason may actually be major depression (also known as clinical depression) , which is a medical illness. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain and can appear in people regardless of age, race or economic status. The illness can appear after a triggering event or for no apparent reason at all.
Look for signs of:
•Constant complaints of aches and pains (back, stomach, arms, legs, head, chest) , fatigue, slowed movements and speech, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, weight increase or decrease, blurred vision, dizziness, heart racing, anxiety.
•An overall sadness or apathy, withdrawn; unable to find pleasure in anything. Also irritability, mood swings or constant complaining; nothing seems to make the person happy.
•Talk of worthlessness, not being needed anymore, excessive and unwarranted guilt.
•Frequent doctor visits without relief in symptoms; all tests come out negative.
•Alcoholism can mask an underlying depression.
Another reason is ‘doing as others do’. Meaning they mimic what other elders are doing. Again if that is what they see and hear from their associates, there is a strong chance they may get caught up in the same negative behavior.
A third reason is the lack of stimulation, which will give them other things to talk about. Many times, elders find themselves alone with infrequent visitation from family and friends. They concentrate on familiar things like illnesses, chronic aches and pains, and the medications they take.
I, too, have minor health issues, however I chose to acknowledge that ‘it is what it is’. I have been dealt this hand and therefore I will do what I can to not let it slow me down. As I said, I am an observer of people partly because I am an RN and it’s part of my job. I have made note that those individuals who are really struggling with major health issues hardly complain at all. They keep a positive attitude and, in doing so, don’t let their condition stop them from enjoying life. Along with keeping a positive attitude, you may also find, as I have, that ‘like attracts like’. People benefit from being around cheerful positive people.
As an Elder and Crone myself, I hope to stir the Pagan community to take notice of how they choose to age. Are we aging with grace or are we just aging? Talk to the God and Goddess for help in modifying your way of thinking so you can handle life’s little ups and down. If you have family and / or friends who are displaying this type of behavior, show empathy and love by helping them comprehend the negative effects that persist when they chose to concentrate on their health issues in a pessimistic way. Sometimes it becomes a habit and they don’t even realize how often it occurs.
Behaviors can be changed, so make up your mind to age with GRACE and not just age.