Geting Older

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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Walking, eating, and relaxing are all trivial movements, until one's motions are restricted. Muscle deterioration and slower movements are nature's way of saying that one is getting old. Simple tasks can become more difficult and sometimes, even painful to complete. Household chores, such as, bedmaking, laundry, and dishwashing, are thought of as everyday jobs; however as the years go by, simple tasks such as the ones mentioned, can seem about ten times more difficult to complete.

Moistened cotton balls inserted in the ears, pebbles in the shoes, and latex gloves over the hands are all removable after the completion of this project; however, for an elderly person, these symptoms and pains are not removable and not curable. I learned through this assignment of aging, what an elderly person goes through to complete everyday responsibilities. As I wore glasses smeared with Vaseline, Band-Aids around my fingers, along with the previously mentioned items, I found just sitting and trying to relax, painful and bothersome.

The first chore that I tried to complete as an "elderly person" was making my bed in the morning. Not only did I find it troublesome to walk with the pebbles in my shoes, but I was also very tired and trying to make my bed, tired me out even more. I needed to take frequent breaks to sit down so I could rest my feet and my hands. This simple chore usually takes about five minutes to complete; however, as the elderly person, the chore took about fifteen minutes to complete.

After making the bed, I then moved on to make breakfast, which was an event in itself. Trying to crack eggs and flip pancakes, tired me out like I just ran a mile. I was so exhausted after trying to make breakfast, that I was not even hungry when everything was done. However, I did manage to find some energy to finish my breakfast and then started washing the dishes. I must say, that I was about ready to quit the project at this point because I was so tired and frustrated with my limited movements; however, I stuck it out and went on with the project. Washing the dishes took awhile because of the limited motions of my fingers and because of the latex gloves I was wearing. The dishes took quite awhile, but I did manage to finish them after a good amount of time.

I decided that I needed a break from doing the simple chores, so I decided to sit and relax in front of the television. As I sat down to watch the television, I realized that I was really not relaxed at all. I felt uncomfortable and felt the need to squint in order to see the television. The Vaseline on my glasses distorted the picture on the television and after a few minutes of trying to decipher the images, a headache started to arise, so I quickly turned off the television and decided to just sit in silence. I found that just sitting in a chair, without any noise or anything to distract my attention felt kind of soothing; however, I still felt uncomfortable. My feet hurt and my hands felt very tense.

Unfortunately, I needed to use the bathroom, so I started the process of getting up and walking to the bathroom. Looking at the stairs, just made me want to "hold it in" until the two hours were up, but I could not, so I started the trek up the stairs. I felt like the climb was never ending, but I finally reached the top of the stairs and decided that after I did what I had to do, I was not going back down the stairs to the first floor. So for the rest of the duration of the project, I stayed on the second floor and rested on my bed.

After completing this project, I realized how difficult moving around the house with limited motions really was. One change that is not really a change, more of a plan, is when I eventually do grow older and start getting weaker and have less mobility, I will move into a ranch home or a home with few steps. Having few or no steps will make living easier since I will not have to deal with the pain of walking up and down the stairs. Another change that would improve my living ability as an elderly person would be to change the set-up of the second floor. The floor is spread out, and I found that I needed to frequently stop and "hold" on to the wall for support. I think that if I changed the pieces of furniture around, I would feel more comfortable moving about on the second floor.

Although my mental age was eighteen, my physical age during this project was about eighty. I found that I wanted to complete things that I normally did everyday, but I would either get tired too quickly, or I was just not capable of completing the task. My emotional level was high, meaning I got frustrated with myself too quickly. Some of the tasks that I was used to doing everyday became harder and more challenging when I was the "older person" and I felt like giving up; however, I did not, and I did complete the project.

Before I completed this project, I really did not know what many elderly people go through everyday; however, now that I have completed the project, I feel that I have fully grasped what "being elderly" really means. I realize I need to be more considerate and understanding of elderly people and their needs.