Fem Speakers

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It's not getting old that was his problem, it was being moved from his familiar surroundings.

Whenever possible, people like Rennie need to stay in their homes, with their pets and their things. Many older people do not transplant well, and can become depressed and disoriented when they are taken from their own long-time environments.

Moving them is an easy mistake for their family members to make. It seems so reasonable, so necessary, and they think the parent will adjust and adapt to new surroundings. But, they don't, they are cut adrift without any of their familiar moorings and routines by which they comfort themselves, know where they are, and even who they are.

That his neighbors did not know Rennie's sirname, nor the name and address and phone number of his relatives shows that his relatives were not protecting and providing for him adequately. And, the neighbors, who are to be commended for their concern and care for him, needed to make sure they had that information, even if it meant stepping outside their own social comfort zones to get it.

I agree with what you say, Pat, and I'm sad that I didn't ask Rennie's surname and get his daughter's phone number. However I should add that others had done much better than me, and other neighbours did have a spare key and family contact details.

It turns out that Rennie had a stroke, and is now being cared for in hospital. Sadly he's going to be uprooted again and moved to a secure nursing home. I agree totally that being removed from his familiar home was a disaster for him, although I'm sure the decision was made with the kindest of intentions.

Having said that I think that his problem with being old started before his move, and was really about loss. He had lost his wife, his dog and his health before the move, as well as most of his friends and his status as a respected member of the church. Tragically, for him, old age meant a loss of all meaning and hope in his life.

My observation (a gross generalisation I'm sure) is that many older men find this life-transition more difficult than do older women, who seem more able to adapt to new circumstances and have different sources of self-worth and hope.

Comments, anyone?

Comments.... I very much enjoyed reading this melancholy piece. It was very well-crafted. I'd prefer to keep it there in my mind and pretend that it was not about a real person, living in a town just like mine.


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