To satisfy the thirst for knowledge about the conditions and process of aging and what it means to someone who is considered an elderly, I interviewed a man who was approaching his seventy-fifth birthday in August. To maintain privacy and respect for the man, I will refer to him as John, a fictitious name. John is the eldest of three sisters and two brothers, who all grew up in a small town in Texas. John’s parents both died before his fortieth birthday; his mother died at a young age after a long battle with Chronic Tuberculosis, which caused her to live her final years separated and lonely because many feared contracting the disease. When I inquired from John about his opinion on aging, he answered by defining that aging is “a natural phase of life orchestrated by God. I am not afraid to die. Instead, I consider each day a gift. I neither view aging as negative nor a positive, but just a normal process.” John closed by adding that dreaded aches and pains are inevitable as one ages, but so does increased understanding and the opportunity to learn about oneself and positively grow from those ideas obtained. As the conversation stirred between John and me, I noticed that he had minor concerns about aging, which became clearer in his continuous references to the financial constraints as well as the level of support services he was receiving due to his status quo.
When asked if John’s opinions had changed about aging in the past ten years, he mentioned that financially, he had messed up. He further added that in the last decade, he was in a better financial position. However, this did not put him down but kept him going in a bid to meet up bills and make ends meet. Also, John has had a heart attack and suffers from an irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and has high blood pressure. Also, John pointed out that he has had rectifications in his oral health and over the past couple of years has had two teeth removed, all these health issues have kept him out of his normal life for a while, but has not snatched positivity from him.
At this juncture of the stimulating conversation, based on John’s candid and straight answers to my questions, I inquired from him about his thoughts on what the health care professionals can do to assist people like him in attaining their goals of a healthy lifestyle. John responded by stating that when it comes to a matter of healthy lifestyle, there has to be a cooperation between the individual and the health professional; implying that it all boils down to the responsibility and discipline between the two parties. The kind of response John gave me reminded me of a movie I had watched about any older adult who had been bed ridden for nearly seven years after being paralyzed from a road accident. It was so overwhelming to watch how the paralyzed old man had impacted the people around him positively by giving them hope through inspirational talks on the purpose of life.
Without any doubt, John’s optimism about life despite the few challenges here and there is a constant reminder to every other older adult about the need to maintain a healthy life style. Also, the resilience John displays ought to be ingrained in every individual both young and old.