Age Is Just a Number

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Age is just a Number
What is age? Does age define who you are? As a nurse in Long term care for fifteen plus years I have learned to look past the number found in the persons chart. I have learned when I as a caregiver look past that number that represents the date the Elder was born; the Elder too tends to look beyond that number and will follow along leading to experiences one might not think Elders of LTC facilities might still accomplish. Here is what Betty has shared with me about her experiences with aging. I have had the privilege to care for Betty for six years. I have traveled with her to Baltimore Md., Albany, NY, and have shared eight weeks of cake decorating classes with her. The magic number inside Betty’s chart today reads 85.

Just how important is the age you are and how does it relate to the quality of life you lead? Betty suffered the loss of her twenty one year old son due to a tragic accident. When sharing this story with me Betty referred to her son’s short life as one that extended well beyond the short twenty one years on this earth. As I thought about the questions I was going to ask Betty I remembered this tragedy she shared with me and wondered if this has any way effected what she thinks about aging. Betty has suffered from severe anxiety for years and requires prescribed medication to treat her symptoms. I began thinking more about the relationship the death of Betty’s young son might be having on her physical symptoms she experiences today at age 85. Does his death then impact her health now? As I began researching on the internet the long term affects the death of a child might have on a parent I came across and article which talked about a study that was done on this very subject. According to (Bowlby, 1980) “the dissolution of the attachment relationship with the child and parents elicits severe anxiety and other negative emotions associated with the loss.” Could this be why Betty experiences anxiety today?

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