Bubba recently celebrated her 87th birthday. She says she isn’t so sure she wants to live to be 100. At times she feels younger than her years, but when the pain of her spinal stenosis cranks up and she must resort to using her walker to get around, she isn’t excited about years filled with discomfort. I don’t blame her…
But tomorrow Bubba is off for an MRI to hopefully help guide correct placement of another pain block. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers… If this works, as it has in the past, it buys her more time and quality of life.
My mother thrives on being mobile, active, and social. Anything that compromises that for her spells disaster. Even though mom has an amazing resilient spirit, being bedridden and isolated will be very hard for her. It would be for me as well. I guess we are related…
Experts on aging suggest there are five important ways we can stay young and slow the aging process.
1. Be physically active
2. Eat right
3. Remain positive
4. Stay socially connected
5. Train our brain
Bubba has always been physically active. But when her back is compromised, exercise and movement are restricted. This makes her sad, and over time, depressed. Bubba eats right, but since she has moved into her senior complex and frequents the dining room (a favorite social activity for her) she has gained some weight. It is hard to resist all the good food that is served. Food comforts her emotionally. The extra weight probably doesn’t help her back and joints. All a vicious cycle.
Thankfully mother has a very positive attitude… She has been that way her whole life, and I can see that it has helped her through so many of life’s challenges. Even at her lowest points she could somehow find a way to make lemonade from lemons, finding and focusing on the sweet spot in a sour circumstance.
Bubba has also remained socially connected throughout her life. Family and friends and social activities have always been the center of her being. Like all of us, she has lost family and friends due to death, relocation, and the passage of time, but she manages to never stop reaching out to meeting new folks and taking them under her wing. It gives her purpose in life. And even though she appropriately grieves her losses in life, she doesn’t dwell on them. She looks forward. She looks to others she can connect with, realizing the basic human need for connection can sustain us all… I am truly grateful for the role model she has offered me over the years. I want to live and age as gracefully as my mother has.
Perhaps the hardest challenge for mother has been to train her brain. She is a smart woman, but has never been much into reading, gathering most of what she knows through TV, listening to others speak on topics, and primarily through communicating with others. She is a good listener and learns a great deal from the stories people tell. I am sure as a student in school she hung on every word her teachers shared. In fact, she has mentioned many of her teachers through her twelve years of public school — teachers who impressed her and taught her how to live a meaningful and rewarding life. And, at this stage, Bubba has discovered playing card and board games, something she has always enjoyed, but carried to a new level, learning many new games that keep her mind engaged and socially connected to and in friendship with others. Once again, Bubba found a niche that serves her well… In fact, I have a hard time finding my mother in her apartment for a phone chat these days… She is off playing games with her friends… 🙂