Dealing with the Ageing Process

Christmas is an annual landmark day. Each year we use it as part of our own ageing process to measure what has happened since the last one. Indeed, I find Christmas quite strange. Ostensibly it is about birth. And yet it is at the darkest time of the year and we all know it will lead to the crucifixion. Whereas Easter is about death. And yet it takes place as the days get longer and warmer with rebirth happening all around.

I know I am getting older and those around me are as well. Ageing and death are an inevitable part of the human story. And we can try to put it off with vitamin supplements, exercise, plastic surgery, etc. But decline and failure is going to happen. As such we have to look after those who need help now. As well as doing all we can to prepare for our own personal future.

  • Another week dominated with caring (which is pretty normal these days). Me and Dave looked after our elderly friend who came out of hospital. Plus also time with mum getting ready for Christmas.
  • Two good fiction books read, both centred on the supernatural
  • Finally, I got back to normality with my exercise routine though not such good news on my weight

Mum: A decent week

I am my mum’s main carer. But I am pleased to report that things are on a bit of a more even keel than they have been for a while. The meds seem to mean she is in less pain (though they are on a reducing dosage) and we are getting along well. Dealing with our parents’ ageing is something we all face.

We spent a lot of time together last week with the focus on preparations for Christmas. I wrote in my previous blog (read it here) about how she was thrilled with her trip to the panto the week before. In the week just gone, she went to her hairdresser’s house (she works from home) to get a perm done. Looked nice and mum is always pleased when her hair looks good though I think that is true for all of us.

Then on Thursday we did the big Christmas food shop. Trolling around the supermarket trying to work out what we need for the holiday period. And the usual over-shopping with me having to persuade mum that we didn’t need too much. Not least because the shops will only be shut for one day in effect.

over consuming

Our friend in hospital: Progress

My previous blog was very much about me and Dave helping an elderly friend who had an awful week going in and out of hospital. Things were left with him last Sunday in hospital. However, he was moved to a different and much better ward than previously. Though it would have been even better if the person he shared his room with didn’t keep spitting his phlegm on the floor.

Our friend was desperate to come out but he had to stay whilst his care package was sorted. Finally, people were realising he needed support to be able to remain living on his own. This also gave me and Dave more time to sort out his flat particularly getting him a new bed and disposing of the old ones. He eventually came out mid-week and I am pleased to report that he seems to be coping well.

Indeed, his recovery is pretty amazing. I am wondering if the antibiotic treatment he is receiving for his infection is the thing that is making the big difference? Now he’s also got a carer coming in each day and the occupational therapist is working with him to improve his mobility and avoid falls. Meanwhile, all went well on Friday with the council taking away his old beds and the delivery of the new one. He’s reporting his best sleep in years.

The importance of friends in the ageing process

If everything that is happening with mum and our elderly friend has taught me, it’s that we need to have friends and some sort of social network to deal with the ageing process. We can’t assume anyone is going to be around to look after us like distant family members. But we do need to try to be a nice enough person to ensure that there are some people out there who think we are worth taking care of.

This was a theme when I met with my friend Jo on Thursday. So great to see her and talk about life. She’s got an exciting phase coming up where she is finishing a job and moving onto the next thing. My advice would be to always take chances because you don’t realise how quickly life passes until you (and those around you) become old and ill.

Be happy and grateful about nice things

Dave: My admiration for my partner

We do argue (you should have seen us getting the bed frames and mattresses down in the lift and out for collection) but Dave has been great in the week gone. He’s done so much to ensure our friend is looked after including getting up at 6am on Friday to travel over and be at the flat for the delivery of the new bed. And then coming over later the same day to see my mum before Christmas.

On Saturday he was up early and off to the North to be with his mum for the holidays. Pleased to say that we did manage to go together to a local open air carol service on Tuesday night and bumped into several of his neighbours.

Fairy land

After getting no books finished in the previous week due to it being so frenetic (read about it here), I managed to finish 2 last week.

‘The Haunting Season. Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights’

I do like a good ghost story. I think the fascination increases as the ageing process rolls out and we all begin to wonder what happens after we die.

Realising your shelf life and living with it

This book was not edited by any individual but is rather simply a collection of short ghost stories. Written by prominent contemporary writers who tend to specialise in fantasy and horror. Indeed, some of them are writers who I really admire including Bridget Collins, Natasha Pulley, and Andrew Michael Hurley. Mainly set in the Victorian / Edwardian period. I suppose the lack of electricity and mobile phones make scary stories in this setting more ‘realistic’.

I have said before that I enjoy short stories. But they are easily consumed and easily forgotten. Indeed, I enjoyed these stories because they are easy to read but they didn’t leave an indelible mark and neither did they particularly scare me. My favourite was probably the most modern one by Andrew Michael Hurley. Not only is it set in the modern day but also covering the horrors of addiction and it leaves you thinking about unanswered questions.

Spirit

‘Winter’s Gifts’ by Ben Aaronovitch

Aaronovitch is the author of the ‘Rivers of London’ series of books featuring Metropolitan Policeman and magician Peter Grant. Another book series that I really love. Every so often he also writes a novella that fits within the Rivers universe but features some of the more peripheral characters. This one centres on the American FBI agent Kimberley Reynolds who featured in one of Grant’s big London adventures.

A perfectly structured and readable book that races along over quite a short period of time. It’s set in a Wisconsin winter featuring snow creatures, evil spirits, and Native American legends. Feels a bit like a kid’s book but it’s quite horrific and gruesome in parts. Strangely, it’s akin to the book of ghost stories also read last week – perfect for this time of year.

Gym: Trying to ameliorate the ageing process

There is no way you can diet and exercise to avoid getting older. But you can use them to try to make the process not too bloody awful. Indeed, I go to the gym because I enjoy it and because I want as attractive a body as possible at my age. But also because strength exercise is proven to be good for your health as you age. It makes sense that your health will be better if your muscles are kept in good shape.

Very glad to report that after the failings of the previous week, I managed to get in my 3 normal gym sessions last week and my back is feeling fine after my messing it up the week before. All good sessions and focused on working on different muscle groups. Though I did do a bit more leg exercise than usual. But I am having to be careful all the time to not aggravate my ankle / Achilles injury which is still slowly recovering.

112 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £4.40 per session.

World's Strongest Man

Swim: A pre-Christmas treat

Did also manage to get in a sneaky trip to the pool on the morning of Christmas Eve. As suspected, it wasn’t too busy and I did a leisurely 20 lengths. With alterations between front-crawl and back-stroke. TBH, felt like hard work because I hadn’t been swimming for a couple of weeks but an enjoyable workout.

freestyle

Weight: A slight wobble

Healthy ageing almost never involves being over-weight. I’ve written about how I’m borderline diabetic and I really doubt Christmas will help with trying to avoid that. I will be nibbling on chocolates and eating a huge meal on Christmas Day. My hope is I don’t goo too indulgent and can recover ground after Boxing Day.

Meanwhile, a weight increase in the week gone. Not really surprised at this time of year and the previous weigh-in seemed suspiciously low. Still, I am very pleased that I remain under 13 stone.

  • It’s Christmas! Dave is with his mum (till Wednesday) and I’m with mine though I will also be visiting our elderly friend at his flat to check he’s OK.
  • With the holiday period, my realistic target is 2 gym sessions and 1 visit to the swimming pool
  • Will finish the 2 books I am currently reading: ‘Normal Rules Don’t Apply’ a collection of short stories by Kate Atkinson and ‘Time Shelter’ by Georgi Gospodinov – winner of the International Booker Prize 2023. Both are very good.
  • Another QPR defeat last week (1-0 to Southampton) and 2 testing games to come. If you lose easier games then you have to win the harder ones; it’s all about simply making things more difficult for yourself.
  • Will carry on doing my daily Duolingo language learning. But also must do some more art and culture stuff. Hopefully I can fit that in with my caring duties.
motivational picture

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