My World

Ageing disgracefully...

 As you can see i'm back to blogging after a period of absence.  Sometimes life gets in the way but it does give me some good material.


Given the fact that i'm fast approaching my 40th year on this mortal coil and really beginning to feel my age. This is despite the fact that i think a birthday is just another day in a man-made calendar. To all those who say “40 is the new 30”, that's a load of 'codswallop' frankly! Then again I've called myself a 'grumpy old man' for years.  I have been wondering where my 20s and 30s went and what i've got to look forward to as i'm ageing??


Luckily, i never took up smoking and am really only a social drinker, obviously been pretty social at times in the past but not so much now. When you are surrounded by older people who smoke and drink in your younger days you can go one of two ways. You can either take up the habit or refuse and feel like a leper. Funny how the worm turns, now its the other way round, i.e if you smoke you have become the leper sent outside and far away just to light up. Well, i've never thought smoking was 'cool' and never took it up, although there was peer pressure to do so when i was young. Later, seeing evidence from some of these older people who should've known better really proved to me that i was right not to take up the nasty habit.


The one thing that stopped me from even touching the 'death sticks' was the fact i had asthma as a kid and realised early that breathing properly was the best. My mum, who smoked for most of her life despite many doctors warnings in later life, saw that a kid with asthma probably shouldn't be in the same space as her when having a cigarette. So, from early on I had a tv in my room to keep me out of the tv room where mum would smoke.


Having seen my mum suffer from a debilitating disease i.e Rheumatoid Arthritis for many years and age considerably before my very eyes before she passed away. We had seen more than our fair share of the insides of hospitals and doctors surgeries. In her later years these places became a quasi-social place where she would talk to the nurses and doctors and sometimes other patients. While most of the health professionals tried their best, there were shortcomings. We know that an ageing population is causing more shortages in the health system. I'm sure you have all seen the ads on television regarding Australia needing more nurses and other healthcare professionals, especially in rural and remote areas.


Its strange to me but i've never wanted to be in the health care or aged care industries despite filling in as carer for my mum during my dads hospitalisation. Maybe it's not that surprising given the family history. I have, since moving to Canberra, worked as a cleaner and in the laundry of an aged care facility. It was on a really short term basis and more recently have been working in the government department which deals with one of the most important issues in Australian society, that of Health and Ageing.


Only recently, i learnt that there is such a thing as Home Medicines Review through my work in the department. This might have been handy in the treatment of mums Rheumatoid Arthritis and related illnesses. Mum took a number of medications and it would have been good to have them reviewed between the doctor and the pharmacist. There are so many things that the average person doesnt even know about.


A previous episode of ABC Q&A (22/04/2013) was all about health and ageing featuring the current minister of health Tanya Plibersek and the opposition spokesman for health Peter Dutton. The thing about politicians is that they all just want to talk about the budget and how much they're spending. But what's it really like on the ground? From my experience there are shortages in the system but the Australian healthcare system is among the best in the world thanks to Medicare and related policies such as the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme). The whole debate around health and ageing brings up a lot of issues in my mind.


We may be living longer but what about quality of life? What if life relies on various pills and potions? What if you saw someone you love in a hospital bed fed with tubes and machines that go BEEP? How about those who say “older and wiser”? Why is it then that so many older people become victims of scams, what happened to wisdom? Shouldn't they know better?? Would you put a parent into a nursing home because of Alzheimers or Dementia? What about when they dont know who you are anymore??


Leads me to wonder when there are so many people who say “everyone should be allowed to die with dignity” and yet nobody wants to really talk about Euthanasia. How dignified are the institutions such as the hospitals and nursing homes? My mum, for example, stated on many occasions she didnt want to make 'old bones'. She was always more keen on being in her own house and 'hobbling about' rather than in a nursing home or hospital. She also never wanted to be completely dependent on others, preferring to end her life if she ever got to that point. Thankfully this didnt get to that point in our family. I get so frustrated at the euthanasia debate as i have seen someone living through a debilitating disease. People with strong ideology on this issue should live with someone with a terminal illness for a time, maybe they would change their minds and become more understanding and flexible. It would be an incredibly hard decision for any person to make, hard on them, hard on the family and friends. But if you were simply existing on a diet of pills and potions and facing lengthy periods of pain and anguish, why shouldn't you be allowed to make the decision and have control of your own body??


Apologies for the sad nature of this discussion, hopefully i can lighten it with the next post...


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Juliet Fenner | Reply 29.06.2013 10.55

Death is part of life. We live in a death and ageing denying society. We need to alter this in order to have a healthy society. Ageing and dying is a fact.

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Latest comments

10.03 | 19:15

I have stood by and watched a with concern and love. I admire the way you have handled yourself and the situation. My love with you. In admiration. Fly

10.03 | 14:07

Well, come back the TOG you old git. We will love you unconditionally there.

Seriously though, this is a good post. I am sorry for your pain mate.

10.03 | 12:26

Spread your wings you dodo, you might be able to fly.

24.06 | 14:03

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