Last week I spent a lot of time in a nursing home. To be clear I wasn't living there, but I was visiting my Gran who was there temporarily (she went back to her home on Saturday).
Jane and I would spend most of the morning with her in her small room, go to my sister's house for lunch and a nap, and then back to the nursing home until dinnertime. Keeping a toddler entertained in a confined space full of buttons not to be pushed and needing to be somewhat quiet was difficult to say the least. But being there provided food for thought and opportunity for reflection between toddler tackles.
Being in that environment raises a lot of questions about dignity -- and how to maintain it for our elders. I also couldn't help but extrapolate and think about myself at that age -- if I could decide how I'd like to decline would I want to keep my physical capacity while giving up mental acumen (like my great aunt who lives in a different nursing home and whom we also went to visit)? Or would I want to stay sharp and be fully aware of what's going on yet not be able to physically care for myself in simple ways? There's no good answer, but it is a reminder that I'm not invincible and this body is aging like everyone else's.
A visit to the nursing home is also incentive to get active -- exercise hasn't felt as good as it has this last week or so. I know nothing can stave off the effects of aging, but I believe exercise can slow its march. So when I feel like being lazy and slacking off hopefully the memories of last week will help keep me in gear. (Yeah right.)