Life Is What Happens

Recently, a regular McDermott Footcare client told me that he’s moving to a retirement residence.  This is a surprise to me since he’s told me before that he doesn’t want to leave his house.

A retirement residence is for seniors who are mostly independent but may need minimal help to perform daily activities such as taking their medication and bathing.  Residents have their own suites but share some common areas such as the dining room.  It differs greatly from a nursing home or long-term care facility where people need greater assistance or complete care.

My client, Mr. X, is fiercely independent, generous and witty.  He lives alone, has trouble going up and down the stairs, difficulty bathing and cleaning his house.  He often forgets to eat and take his medications.  His closest relatives live out-of-town but they do the best they can to help him.  They worry about him all the time.

When I visit him for foot care, I ask him if he’s taken his pills that morning.  The usual answer is “no, I forgot.” I hand him his pills and remind him that since he’s diabetic, he can’t wash down his meds with the sugar-laden pop he likes to keep around.  I also remind him to eat.

So, why am I telling you this?  Well, it struck me how quickly my client’s life is changing.  Despite his earlier insistence that he can continue to function in his own home,  in one month his outlook is completely different.

Although we all experience many changes in our lives, I think the most significant shifts take place in old age.  The onset of illness, loss of independence and loss of loved ones take a hard toll on seniors.

I marvel at how my client is handling the impending move.  He’s given me a lesson in accepting life’s inevitable changes.   Instead of wasting time and energy fighting what he can’t control, he’s meeting his challenges head-on with a pragmatic, no-nonsense attitude.

That doesn’t mean he won’t struggle when he gets into his new place.  There will be major adjustments to make.  On top of all the other losses he’s experienced over the past few years, he’ll have to deal with the loss of the home he’s known for many years and the life he had in that home.  It won’t be easy but I believe he’ll be OK.

I wish him all the best.  May you continue to accept life as it comes with grace and dignity, Mr. X.

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