Ever been relieved to find a seat while out shopping only to vacate it pretty sharpish when you see an elderly person also in need of it? This is me – probably feeling as exhausted and in as much pain as the oldie, but without the most essential of appendages to alert anyone to the fact – wrinkles.
Right from the go it seemed to me that entering the world of MS was somewhat like entering the world of OLD AGE, the abyss to which only the lucky ones may enter but usually after a long, fulfilling and mostly healthy life. To find yourself in this place while still in your twenties (or even younger for some) is, quite frankly, pants. Sure, there are a few differences – the most obvious one being that you’re not technically nearing the end of your life, although I’m sure for many it can feel like it; and without the right support this can result in them leading a rather secluded life with little hope for the future. But don’t let me get all morose about it, life CAN BE good with MS, in fact, life can be bloody fantastic. Let me merely draw some parallels between living with a chronic condition and the physical challenge of aging to which I’m sure all of you MSers can relate…
It hurts to walk. Life can move in slow motion. Vision isn’t what it used to be. Forgetfulness. Aches & pains. Fatigue. Lack of energy. Using a stick or a Zimmer frame or a scooter. Lack of motivation. Being ‘tailgated’ by other pedestrians (Just give me some space!!). Problems with continence and (whisper it) SEX!! Let me just paste an excerpt from an article I found on ‘AgingCare.com’. It’s written by a woman who wanted to simulate the effects of old age on the body in order to gain a greater understanding and empathy for her parents and elder people in her care:
“Aging is not for sissies. To cope with impaired vision, decreased mobility and loss of dexterity, you’ve got to be tough. Seniors may be frail, but they are tenacious. When your body and your mind start to fail, even the simplest tasks – getting dressed, reading forms, pushing a grocery cart — are a challenge. Tasks that younger people never give a second thought to, for elders represent barriers, obstacles, limitations.
As I wore funny-looking glasses that simulated conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts, and donned bulky gloves that imitated arthritic hands, I realized that what minutes ago were easy tasks – buttoning a shirt, opening a medication bottle or handling small pills — suddenly required my full concentration and took twice as long to complete – if I could complete them at all.
I knew getting old was hard, but before this training, I didn’t fully grasp the difficulty of dealing with a declining body and mental capacities. And the fear that must coincide with knowing there’s nothing you can do to turn back time.
At the end of the course, I could take off my vision-impairing glasses and mobility-impeding gloves and get on with my life at a normal pace. But my aging parents have to cope with those barriers every day of their lives, for the rest of their lives.
I can tell you this: Put yourself in an elderly person’s shoes, even for just five minutes, and you will gain a better understanding of what it’s like to grow older and an appreciation for what seniors confront. It was an eye-opening experience.
For a few minutes, the world truly did seem much different and much more frustrating”.
In a similar but lighter vain I have previously posted a list of things you can use to replicate MS symptoms.
Anyone else feel like an OAP in disguise?
First Published 11 August 2017