God & Man“For those suffering from depression, the world has fallen apart every day and is put back together the next day.” – Emily Casalena How is a depressed person supposed to act? Who is a depressed person? If you ask the movies, most of them might say a person with depression is an introverted,…
“These things I have spoken Unto you, that in me ye might have peace”. John 16:33
Today, may we take a little time to ponder, and emulate, His formula for peace on Earth to All.
How often have you heard the elderly say this? On their own and frequently feeling down in spirits, they can barely manage to look after themselves properly from day to day, let alone clean and maintain their home. Then, what would they do in an emergency? Despite the pleadings of family, they won’t budge. For them, it is a step into the unknown, a loss of independence, and just too difficult to contemplate. Later perhaps!
I had the opportunity several years ago, to inspect with my son several properties on the market in Port Melbourne. One we looked at in a good location (Dank Street) was a deceased estate. It was derelict beyond belief. Most of the floor boards which remained were rotting and unsafe to walk on. It was damp and it stunk. There was no functional kitchen and just a dunny down the back. Much of the fence was falling down, the walls were crumbling and the garden a wilderness,
I imagined the owner still alive, struggling to survive without assistance in filthy and unsafe premises year after year. It was the home he/she knew and loved, and it doubtless held precious memories. Was it his/her choice to continue to live there in squalor? Did he/she not know the monetary value of the house? It sold for over A$900,000! Enough to enjoy real comfort!
The decision to move from one’s own home into a retirement village can be a painful one. But the longer it is left, the harder it becomes. It was a choice my wife and I made a year ago, in our late seventies. Despite all the effort that was involved, it was one we have not regretted, and we have the assurance of knowing that we have the support and continuing care we need as we get older.
I recently came across an article which I think aptly puts the case for the elderly to seriously consider the advantages to them of moving into a retirement complex. I do not know who wrote it, or where it was printed, to attribute credit. Evidently it was printed in a Senior Living Community Newsletter in the United States.
How often strong and vigorous men, active and gracious women, enter retirement years and use this excuse to postpone the very decision that could liberate them and increase their enjoyment of life.
They’re not ready yet:
- To live in an attractive and comfortable home without the effort of maintaining it.
- To be able to forget about mowing the lawns and other tedious household chores.
- To enjoy the companionship of others with similar desires and expectations.
- To eliminate worry concerning health, security and transportation.
They’re not ready, in short, to simplify their lives. They wait for some sign, some failing, to justify or even compel a move from the home that’s too big, or chores and possessions which require a great deal of attention.
Sometimes they wait too long.
Sometimes they find they have wasted what could have been some of their better years. Moving to a comprehensive retirement community shouldn’t mean retiring from life, but simplifying life to enjoy new interests and activities, or the old ones there wasn’t enough time for. One doesn’t step into old age by moving to a retirement community, but it opens a new door to an active, dignified and interesting life.
What does a Retirement Village have to offer?
Independence, security, a sense of community, friendships, a place to be private.
A gift of time to use constructively, and personalized service when needed.
Think about it. What is best for you?
Who is it that comes at dead of night
In dark blue gown, and apron white
And gently asks, are you alright?
Who is it then, with noiseless tread
Goes softly round from bed to bed,
And shakes your pillow, lifts your head,
Who is it keeps to morning light
a lovely faithful watch all night,
Yet calls us with a smile so bright.
Who when the dim night hours are done
And the days busy work begun
Is as active then, as anyone.
Whoever patient, thoughtful and kind
Will no unpleasant duty mind
In whom a friend we always find.
Who when the day begins to wane
Cheers us with her bright smile again,
And robs the night of half its pain.
This poem was written in the 1950’s by a grateful patient.
Australia’s highest honour for Journalism is the Walkley Award. In nearly two decades of investigative journalism for ABC’s Four Corners, talented barrister turned journalist Liz Jackson won it five times.
But her last and greatest story is her own, making public her fight against Parkinson’s disease, panic attacks and depression. Fittingly, it was presented as the final episode of Four Corners for 2016. She deserves our praise and gratitude for allowing the camera to film her at her lowest. It was painful to watch, and no doubt confronting for her and her filmmaker husband Martin Butler to record.
Her story brought to my mind that of Canadian-American actor Michael J Fox, winner of several Emmy, Golden Globe, and other Awards. Whereas Liz Jackson was 64 when her conditions were diagnosed in 2014, Michael Fox was still only 29 when diagnosed in 1991 with this career ending condition. For 7 years he tried to conceal his problem by taking large doses of dopamine. But the relief was temporary, necessitating larger doses, and eventually he developed all too obvious, uncontrollable involuntary movements, a side effect of the prolonged use of dopamine (tardative dyskinesia).
Because harrowing stories such as these may engender a defeatist attitude, and depression, I venture to add a few comments for the benefit of the newly diagnosed. My qualifications for doing so are based on my medical background, and experience of being diagnosed with PD (Parkinson’s disease) in 2002.
Tremors occur in many conditions other than Parkinson’s disease with varying prognoses. A collective term for them all is Movement Disorders. Paradoxically not all patients may have tremor, but the main features are tremor, muscle rigidity, and slow movement (bradykinesia).
Symptoms which have troubled me include fragmentation of sleep, disturbance of balance, and restless legs. A symptom I am most grateful not to have, is loss of the ability to smile. I have become clumsy, and cannot perform the fine finger activities I once could. I find it difficult or impossible to keep food on my fork, or a glass steady without spilling it. Writing, even signing my name, is irritatingly slow, and shaky. But I can still type, despite frequent miss-hits and double or triple taps, and have become a rather prolific blogger (read by few).
Precise diagnosis can be difficult. In my case, because I have little muscular rigidity and my symptoms have been remarkably stable over the years, my diagnosis was re-appraised to Essential Tremor, a familial and more benign condition.
Not all movement disorders respond to medication (as Liz Jackson discovered). Because of the potential for side-effects, the aim should perhaps be to use it sparingly for relief. Cure is not a realistic objective.
The point I would like to emphasize to all suffers from movement disorders is to focus on what still works, and to keep as physically and mentally active as one possibly can. Hand movements may be unsteady, but limb movements are usually assured. I like exercise and aerobic balance classes; I garden and walk the dog. Many Parkinson sufferers find bicycling to be therapeutic. I took up playing croquet soon after being diagnosed, for the skills of steadiness and accuracy it promotes, whilst demanding concentration and planning. Indoor bowls is my latest recreation.
Three quotes I like from Michael Fox:
James Kay Horsfield
He was the grand-father I never knew. He died fighting in the Battle of the Somme in France, aged 40, on my mother’s 9th birthday, 12th October 1917.
Like the 1915 invasion of the Gallip0li peninsula in Turkey by the Anzacs, it was militarily unsuccessful, and resulted in the tragic loss of 1.5 million Allied force lives.
This photograph of my grandfather, shows that as a young man I had a strong physical resemblance to him. Despite not ever having known him, I identify with him and grieve his passing and the hardship it brought to his young widow as she struggled to support three young children on her own.
He married my maternal grandmother I understand as a result of a shipboard romance when they both migrated at the turn of the century to Auckland, New Zealand. He subsequently found work as a book-keeper/accountant for a mining company in the very north of the South Island, some distance from Nelson, but proved to be a poor provider for his young family due to a drinking habit.
Sadly it also led him into minor larceny on a couple of occasions. The first time he was cautioned but after a second offence, he received a short custodial sentence.
At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted with the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment. Before leaving London for action in France his war record documents that he disobeyed military protocol, going awol to visit his family at Evesham in South England not having seen them for many years. It was the last time he saw them.
The Anzac Meme
No two Australians/ New Zealanders will observe Anzac Day for the same reason. Time dims the memory of those war events more than a century ago. For some of us the memory of someone who did fight will make the day a significant one.
For us all however, it is an occasion to honour the many who put their lives at risk in the Armed Services.
My grand-father may not have been a perfect New Zealand citizen, or a particularly good husband and father, but I have no doubt that he loved both his family and his country, and was prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice in dying for them. He deserves my utmost respect and honour for this. I just hope that I would do what he did in such circumstances.
In my opinion this is the Anzac meme which I trust we will never forget. To fight against the odds in even in the most impossible circumstances, putting our own lives at risk.