Reflections on Aging and Independence

December 30, 2014

Boulder CO Aging and Independence

It’s a cold snap in Boulder with temps at zero. Good weather for reading books. I am delving into the latest book authored by Atul Gawande, about quality of life, aging, independence, nursing home and assisted living issues, and attitudes towards disability and death. It’s title is Being Mortal. It’s timely for me as I observe my mother beginning to be a wee bit less safe in her independent living in two locations. Of course I worry for her safety. This book helps me see that safety is only a part of what’s important for an aging individual’s quality and enjoyment of life.

As a concerned daughter, I observe her driving less well, but from her perspective she is fine. She has a very active social life; thinks nothing of cooking for 12 at age 87. She wonders how to get her roller blades repaired, plays tennis, takes walks in the neighborhood in Michigan. If she feels like it she’ll go out for a stroll at midnight.

This book helped me see her declining independence in a new light. She really will be happier continuing to do what she wants in her own spaces even if it means there is a greater risk to her of something going wrong. The trade off in diminished autonomy would not serve her well.

Simple interventions like Physical Therapy for balance, maintenance of good feet, and general strength are of much better benefit than an overbearing watch dog attitude.

Rachel at the home Physical Therapy office on a snowy cold day outside Longmont Rachel at the home Physical Therapy office on a snowy cold day outside Longmont

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