Monday, April 11, 2016
A friend of mine sent me a Washington Post article about Dr. Bill Thomas who gave up his practice to become a theater performer who is attempting to convince his audience that growing old is a privilege that should be accepted not as a loss of things we used to do when we were younger but as a stage of life which is quite natural and should be appreciated and enjoyed.
When he was a practicing Doctor he revolutionized the way residents of Nursing Homes were treated and the way the structures were organized. The thought that the structures were too big which made them inaccessible led to smaller floors, private rooms which led to less use of wheelchairs and more socializing. The residents were happier and lived lives that had more meaning for them because of the changes that were made in both structure and the availability of being able to move around easily.
My mother and wife were institutionalized in the same Nursing Home and I have to say that changes that the good Doctor made on a big scale can be made on a smaller scale if the caregivers just make the effort. Many Nursing Homes can only do so much because of budget constraints but the visitors who really should be the main caregivers can accomplish much more.
Spending quality time with your relative in the meeting rooms where others are can be a great social event daily which allows everyone to speak, laugh and share ideas and life on a daily basis. Speaking in hushed tones all the time gives the impression that dire things are about to happen. Speaking and laughing the way we do while at home should always be present. The resident then gets the feeling that nothing bad is going to happen but that life is going to go on just changed perhaps by the difference in one's physical state.
Dr. Bill Thomas now-a-days gives talks and performances to let us older folks know that living to an "old age" is a privilege, one we should be aware of, one we should look at as another stage of life and not a loss of everything we had when we were "young". He doesn't tell his audience what they should do to make their lives more alive for everyone has individualistic bents but he gives new ideas about aging and leaves it up to the listener to do whatever their likes, genes and physical condition allows them to do.
Once again I agree whole-heartily with the good Doctor's premise. Aging doesn't mean we are dying rather just passing from one stage of life to another. When we were young perhaps we played baseball but now at an advanced age our legs don't move as fast nor do our arms throw a ball as far but certainly we can have an interest in the sport , read about it, watch it. Maybe our interest in sports will allow us to play golf but now on an Executive (shortened) course rather on a Championship course. We can still belong to an acting group but instead of the lead romeo we can play an old curmudgeon. And just because you have reached an advanced age doesn't mean there is no longer room for sex in your life. There is room but maybe less energetic and more innovative. In other words life can still be lived to its fullest as long as we dwell on the positives rather than the negatives.
By the way, even though the good Doctor doesn't touch on this I will because I think it is important. One can start feeling depressed at any age because passing from teens to twenties, twenties to thirties and so forth is aging and living life sometimes seems to take away our enjoying it or living our dreams. This doesn't have to be so. All anyone at any age has to do is slow down the pace a bit and take time to smell the roses along the way. An old cliche perhaps but true. The trick is to make sure your heart is always where your treasure lies. In a relationship? Love your partner, spouse or otherwise. Have a family? Love them all children, cousins, dogs and other pets. Goals seem out of reach? Set other goals that are reachable. And whatever stage of life you are at smile and reach for a state of happiness because the alternative leads to depression and ultimately death.
Look up the good Doctor, Dr. Bill Thomas. His ideas are sound and can be applied to anyone at any stage of life. Be kind. Remember the problems that a child has are deeply disturbing to him even though the adults may not think they should be, and that type of thing is applicable at any stage of life. One of the best way to stay happy is to be able to help a person in need. This is at any age.