There is a dichotomy in government outpourings. Soon they are bringing out a White Paper on the prognosticated, future cost of the elderly to the national budget., suggesting they will live to be a hundred years old. Concurrently they are spending millions on advertising the effects of obesity, and other reasons for staying healthy, which implies that future generations may die younger, and this does not take account of the new virulent viruses, which are anticipated. I wrote the following a few days ago, and it is equally applicable to the elderly
My experience enables me to warn the young in particular, to be wary of being overconfident in precarious situations. I have neither a big ego, nor am I vain, those were thoroughly knocked out of me between 1935 and 1940. Recently I had a severe accident, which damaged my shoulder, and crushed my spine. This changed my outlook, and in particular my consideration of other people. Most are generous with their thoughts, and their time for people who are ill or disadvantaged. This is a momentary condition, a reaction to the knowledge, not something to carry with you unless you have a responsibility to those people. So, until I found myself trapped in my house, dependant very much on relatives, friends and professionals for those daily mundane necessities we all take for granted, like shopping, picking things up off the floor, climbing stairs, driving, going for walks and personal hygiene, when I heard of the young men and women, damaged on the Ski slopes, it never occurred to me just how much their lives had changed. Workers in the social services, the hospitals and the medical profession are all well aware of these features, take account of them, and help as much as they can.
Initially one is so concerned with the mechanics of being ill, the time spent in hospital, and doing all the exercises you are told to do to get better. After a while you return home, this alone is a steep learning curve because everything is circumscribed by your current ability, your physical condition, and your mental outlook. You will either get better and become your old self, slightly bettered, and a hell of a lot wiser, or you will reach a plateau of discomfort and ability which is unlikely to change in the future, and may become worse with time. It is then that it is essential that your mind is stimulated and becomes the focus of your being, to enable you to block out the repetition, the closed environment, and instead, find useful things to do to justify your existence in your own conception, irrespective of what others feel. It is difficult for extroverts, and even more difficult for the reticent. Sedentary interests are essential, because it is not long before the attraction of television wanes. Once I worked with a team to provide a weekly vocal newsletters for the blind which not only included local news, but had other interesting sidelines for simulation. The social services are excellent in their attention, help both physical and instructional, but what I find is not available is stimulation as a commodity, designed to help and encourage those who have not had the benefit in their early life of different cerebral interests, perhaps their work was their hobby. There is always a local library, but that in itself is not enough. The problem is that the handicapped are often prisoners not only in their own home but in their own mind. Therefore there is a need, especially for the more mature handicapped to be offered stimulation at intervals, that not only widens the horizon, but gives them something to look forward to.