Sixty-five Can’t be the New Forty-five — Until Respect for Time Aligns

ClockMix2From our mother’s first contraction and throughout our working lives, time is sacrosanct. Weekdays are a series of tightly coiled con calls and meetings with minimal buffers for overage or bio breaks. We even send our spouse outlook invites to book date nights, as we may never see them without the electronic reminder.

But when we cross the abyss at 65, we’re supposed to drop all these conventions. You see, time shouldn’t matter to seniors. At least I think that’s what service providers and our culture leads us to believe.

For example, when my active 88-year-old mother had a tumble, I learned:

  • The physiotherapist assigned to her senior’s complex would “show up” randomly for her  appointments with no advance notice. (Aside from the inconvenience, this could be privately disruptive should she feel under the weather or have company.)
  • The personal support worker might show up a half hour late for her scheduled home visit and expect mom to wait without being advised of the delay. (Mom waited 25 minutes once and then, thinking she’d been forgotten, left for her scheduled art class.)

I’ve also seen a wheel trans service show up and cart a devoted gentleman off midway through his Sunday church service. This happened on several occasions even though service times were carefully communicated at the time of booking, which was days in advance.

With scenarios like these, how can a fit 65-year-old live a 45-year-old lifestyle? How can they plan ahead or commit to any set time with confidence?

Certainly I’m grateful for the tightly stretched, high quality of care available in Ontario (and elsewhere) for an aging population and others with healthcare challenges. Asking for seniors and their time to also be given the same respect as others may be a luxury — or is it?

If we want to strive for fulfilling and productive lives well into our golden years, we need more than good health and marketing. Likely it will take more funding, resources and innovation to bring timing for seniors more in line with the rest of the world.

For those of us at the end of the baby boom, now may be the time to change perceptions and address challenges because arriving late for your performance, plane or sky diving class just won’t work in a 24/7 world.

2 thoughts on “Sixty-five Can’t be the New Forty-five — Until Respect for Time Aligns

  1. THANK YOU LES….   Excellent, well-written article! You validated the words of frustration  I pounded out around Lilo’s ‘care’ at Chester Village a couple of weeks ago. You especially nailed it with the ”time” concept!    Here’s what  I was chewing on before Christmas …..

    Welcome to Freedom 85. The battery died on Friday. The repair service won’t be able to look at it until Wed. Lilo has to wait 5 days before her only source of independence can be repaired. Lilo will be in bed, day after night, and day after long unending days of sameness without a few brief hours of freedom in her power wheelchair. . But, Lilo must wait.   It’s the interminable waiting that wears people out in the end. How terribly cruel to help people survive longer without the staffing and in-time support to actually help them really live life beyond surviving. Concepts like ‘Freedom 55’ and ideas proclaiming ‘aging in place’ to be the policy of the day morph into distorted hoaxes when the rubber hits the road. They become a cruel joke played on people who need support to experience the smallest of freedoms and care to age in good spirits. No one is smiling much less laughing. Lilo has been awake since 5:30 am. Breakfast, at the brand new, long-term care home,  is served at 8 am in a small, brightly light dining room. Staff cajole and gently tend to those who can’t feed themselves. Exercise class is 10 am on another floor. Lilo very much wants to get ready to go to both. Time passes. And some more time passes. Breakfast is over. Lilo ate hers in her bed. Again. It’s already noon before the three staff required to manage the hoist that transfers Lilo from her bed to her motorized chair can be assembled. This task used to be managed by two staff, but a slip off the bed, likely caused in part by one staff ignoring Lilo’s instructions to position her further back from the edge, led to the enforcement of a home rule that three support staff must always be present for both the resident’s and staffs ‘well being’. Never mind that there is ALWAYS a staff shortage, as the administrator well knows. Never mind that without exercise Lilo loses what minimal strength remains in her stroke impaired limbs. Never mind that her general ‘well being’ declines minute by incremental minute spent feeling helpless and immobile in bed. Never mind asking how the resident defines ‘well being’. Lilo must ALWAYS wait. Since Lilo arrived at Chester Village she occasionally did the activities she enjoyed. Since the three-staff-present rule, she rarely does the few simple things she would very, very much like to do. During Lilo’s long loving life of 92 years she has almost never been despondent or bitter in  manner or tone; quite remarkable given the World War II shrapnel still lodged in her. She survived, in good cheer, a world wide depression and disappointments she’d prefer kept private. Sadly, I’m watching that cheerful, engaging contentment slip away. At 88 and a half years, a massive stroke rendered her left side largely immobile. It happened only six months after my father, Lilo’s beloved Robert, died. The stroke took away Lilo’s ability to care for herself in ways we never give a second thought to. Tremendous medical expense and effort assured her survival. The nursing home rules and under staffing are stripping away what remains of what was once indomitable and patiently eager to move beyond survival.. Just wait. Your time will come.(added this last line after your time concept got me even madder.)


  2. Thanks Diane. I was worried that the time concern I cited might seem trivial in comparison to major daily living needs. However, your scenario and Lilo’s extremely upsetting situation remind me how intertwined these time concerns can be with a person’s overall physical and mental health. I’m sorry to hear of Lilo’s pain and hope her home will find some better solutions.


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