Does Looking at Your Parents Scare You?

How often were you told, as a child, how much you resembled your parents? You looked like one or both of them. Your behaviour resembled theirs. The way you walked or that turn of phrase or how you always put peanut butter on your hot dog just like your mom. All things that reminded friends and neighbours of your parents. If you grew up admiring your parents having someone point out the similarities made you smile.

At some point things started to change. Ever so slowly. They don’t walk the way they used to. It takes longer to grasp a story or pull a word out of that brain. Afternoon naps help get through the day and doctor visits start to fill the calendar. Chatting on the phone seems less light-hearted and more about who’s sick with what and, increasingly, who died.

For some, parents seem to become more isolated. They go out less as the effort becomes too great. Passports aren’t renewed because those once relished trips are tiring just to think of anymore and the confusion of new places is too much. Even friends with whom weekend getaways were shared become reduced to once a year Christmas cards. As their world narrows they seem to develop tunnel vision and find it tough to comprehend the world beyond their walls while the doctor shows have become must see tv.

Many of us in our 60’s recall grandparents who, at the same age, looked old. We don’t remember them without grey hair or sturdy shoes. We colour our hair, don’t think twice about fillers and many tackle new careers in later years so it’s fair to say that 60 these days is more like 50 or even younger just a few short decades ago.

Despite the number of aging seniors who face multiple challenges there are others who age well, remaining upbeat and active many years or decades past their friends with increasing challenges or even those who are content to let age have its way with them. The number of dating sites and travel agencies specializing in seniors has blossomed. Many retirees remain consultants in family businesses now passed on to the next generation. Others take on volunteer work or work part time in the new gig economy for extra income but just as often to have a reason to get up in the morning.

Now with your parents in their 70’s or perhaps 80’s, their bodies offering new challenges every day and their minds straining against the years do you look at them and see your future? Does it scare you, give you hope or do you ignore it? Have you enacted counter measures already or will you wait and see what happens? While plenty of people think what will be will be, others who see the future are heartened by the choices they believe they have to change course either a few degrees here and there or do a full 180 degree turn.