"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Age is Never a Predictor

When working on the nursing floor, we know ahead of time when we are getting an admission. In order to do my job to adequately prep for an admission, I usually ask the same questions, "How old? Are they from home? Whats the diagnosis?" These three things help me figure out how to set the room up, what supplies they might need and so on. However these are only general guidelines, as sometimes age is definitely not a predictor.

I can't tell you how many times I have had a patient in their 60's and is completely dependent on caregivers. Can't walk, can't talk, can't feed themselves, dress themselves, nada. And then I've had patients in their 90's that walk, talk, bathe, dance, exercise...It's interesting to see. So although I still always ask how old they are, this is always just a guideline and never a full assumption.

Today I had a patient that was 101 years old! It was neat to see her, because I remember having her as a patient a couple years ago. I have been at my job for 5 years now, and I remember having her about 2-3 years ago and remember thinking.....she might make it to 100! And now she's a 101, the next time I meet her!

If you make it past 100, you deserve a giant cookie. You deserve anything in the world that you want. Screw diet restrictions, eat anything you want! I know some cultures differ on how they treat the elderly in their communities. I know (well at least I've heard) that some places in Europe are extremely respectful to their elders. They treat them with honor, respect and cherish them to the utmost and seek their guidance on how to live their own life. 
Americans .....not so much. Our elderly are sort of just shuffled around in the Medicare roundabout. They work their whole life and then their life funds go into nursing homes or Medicare/Medicaid, and they end up miserable in a bed eating mush food. Collectively as a country, I don't think we see our Elders as people we should respect, and seek guidance from.

However I beg to differ, personally...I wish I could just ask my 101 year old patient so many questions....do you realize how much she has lived through? How much her little body has been through? How much her eyes have seen and ears have heard? She must have so many stories... And yet here she is, somehow made it to being stuck in my little hospital, alone in a hospital room with infrequent visitors. She is fully-alert, can move, can walk a couple steps yet, can write, etc. She is known on the floor for being "annoying" because she has to use the bedpan so frequently, but every time I go in their I put all annoyances aside because I am in the presence of someone so stunning. This is truly such a treat to see, to experience- to have a conversation with someone that has lived through so much. 

Despite being the only aide on my very-busy floor today, I desperately tried making time to really show her that there were still people on this earth that respected her and took time to make her comfortable and special.

Anyone that makes it past 100 has my utmost respect, any day, any time. They are who we should be taking life advice from, don't you think?


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