The last few days have made me aware of a Covid-19 data point due more attention. In the past, I thought some at-risk would prefer to be with loved ones in a hazardous circumstance rather than separate from their loved ones. Aware they have a finite time left, they may choose not to spend it in isolation. So long as they didn’t endanger others, I felt this was their decision to make. Our job was to offer ways to protect the endangered to the best of our ability. My assumption was only a small number of people would turn down help to segregate from those able to infect them. Two things caused me to reassess. The Wall Street Journal reported widespread European elderly resistance to be locked down. Across the continent, seniors were demanding the right to determine not to be quarantined. They claimed the right to chose how and with whom they lived out the rest of their lives. Elder organizations cried ageism. To be sure, overall European rules tend to be more stringent than ours. Still, the numbers and senior organizations involved are illuminating.
Checking in with friends and family in the days after Mother’s Day, I was stunned to learn how many inter-generational gatherings took place. When asked why these well-seasoned citizens took such a risk, the answer was they didn’t want to miss a holiday time with their families. They were going to decide how they spent their limited time. . They surely have earned the right to make this choice. When Grammie makes clear what she desires, the family feels guilt for possibly infecting her and feeling guilty if she spends her last days alone. Obviously, in these situations, Grammie rules.
I can understand where older people are making a risky choice are. As you get closer to the end, the time has a much higher value. Looking forward to the things you love is increasingly precious. I hope to have at least a few more robust years. I’m in my early eighties with good health and no underlying conditions.
On the other hand, my wife though younger, recovered from lung cancer in the last two years. This past weekend, we were supposed to be in Dublin, Ireland embarking on a cruise to Iceland. After returning to Dublin, we planned to meet our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter for further time in Ireland. We canceled a summer family gathering with our kids and grand-kids on the California Coast. We have to wonder, will we ever get to do these things in the future? Zoom is lovely, but it doesn’t replace hugging your grand-kids. Time is indeed different for the elderly.Continue reading