Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in aging, Guyside, health, general, men | 2 comments

I’m spending some time with my mom as I write this Guyside column, and 89 from the perspective of nearly 48 has been making me think about lots of stuff around aging

Here’s a few thoughts, in more or less random order.

Technology

It’s really going to be interesting to find out if I deal with technology as I age. I suspect I’m at the start of the generation that has found it relatively easy to adapt to technology. Perhaps it’s just me, but I enjoy tackling technology and understanding new devices.

My mom is definitely not in that mindset. For her, managing the universal remote is about as much as she wants to take on, and even that isn’t necessarily a done deal, as my brother and I can attest from annoyed phone calls when the TV and the cable box are out of sync.

I wonder if I’m kidding myself on this, though. There was a time when I was on top of every pop cultural trend and thought I was quite the expert, but as I creep toward 50 I find myself more and more out of touch with the music that’s getting played on the radio – something I couldn’t have imagined happening. If that can happen, then who’s to say whether I’ll be wondering how this dang neural implant turns on in 25 years?

Media images of aging 

I tend to watch very different television shows from my mom; I don’t have cable TV; and I watch a lot of stuff on streaming services. So watching TV with her showed me a world of commercials for things I don’t spend a lot of time considering. Nutritional supplements, pharmaceuticals for arthritis or fibromyalgia, walk-in tubs and the like. What struck me about the ads was the idealization of aging that they showed. Sure, some people get to age with rugged good looks, dancing, hiking, driving convertibles in sunlit splendour, playing electric guitars, outsmarting their grandchildren.

But the affluence and the youthfulness of the people in commercials for products or services for seniors is as utterly mythical as a seductive babe stroking some guy’s freshly-shaved cheek or the girl who orders the magic drink catching the eye of the hunky bartender. It shouldn’t be news to anyone (I hope) that advertising sells perfect fantasies to people who live in imperfect reality. But it struck me that for many seniors, illness or lack of money must make such commercials a cruel slap in the face.

Independence

As an adult, I cherish my independence. But as an adult child of a senior, I see how easy it can be to wish my mom’s independence away. There’s a complicated and difficult balance between ensuring she has support when and where she wants it and removing her ability to control her life. And for the most part, as I see it, there are few hard-and-fast rules and lots of gray areas that have to be negotiated between people. Good will is absolutely necessary.

Death

I’ve faced up to my own illnesses, and in the last few years I’ve lost enough friends and family to consider death far more on my radar than it would have been 10 or 15 years ago. For my mom, who’s lost many friends, several siblings, and her husband, it’s much more direct. And while I think I have faced up to mortality with clear eyes, I wonder if a little denial is not such a bad thing.

Closing note: It’s a GUYSIDE TAKEOVER next week on FlashFree. The redoubtable Ms. Scherer is taking a little time off to have a lot of fun, so I’ll be posting, along with some special surprises. Stay tuned!

2 Comments

  1. 7-16-2014

    My dad is turning 88 and is quite technologically savvy. He abhors his cell phone and never turns it on (he isn’t much of a regular phone guy either) but he spends lots of time on the computer, pilots planes via a sophisticated game that he purchased) and flies those ridiculously expensive helicopters around the house. Conversely, he had a huge issue giving up the reins last year when my mother broke her spine, leaving me to navigate the healthcare system while he stewed in a corner. You raise some interesting points here. Aging can be difficult and the loss of independence? Don’t even want to think about it!

  2. 7-17-2014

    Great points and issues that I’m definitely thinking about as my parents (and we) age.

    My dad had to stop driving a couple years ago and we talk about that – it’s awful for him to be so dependent. He absolutely hates it. Re: tech – he has NEVER used an ATM, hasn’t touched a computer, and doesn’t use a cell phone. My mom, 7 years his junior, is a whiz on the computer, has an iPhone, and is a continual learner. And she’s learned to drive on the freeway since my dad stopped driving. (GO MOM!)

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