Aging Ain’t Easy

by Dick Heinen on June 11, 2013

“Growing old is not for sissies,” my eighty-one-year-old mother-in-law tells me every time I ask how she’s doing. While she’s as chipper and feisty as ever, her body is starting to wear out. She’s already had one hip replacement and has arthritis in her back.

I agree with her—growing old is no fun.

The reality of becoming older hit me several months ago when my oldest son turned forty. My birthdays have always been occasions for celebration and I paid little attention to the accumulated years. I didn’t need to—I am healthy, I feel great, and I have lots of energy. As a matter of fact, the other day I played two-on-two basketball with my teenage granddaughters. I really don’t feel a day over forty.

But despite feeling great, I realize I’m no spring chicken. I thought of the many CLAC members who tend to our seniors every day in care homes across the country. I know of the hard work many of them do because I watched them care for my mother, who last year passed on at the age of ninety-two. It is difficult work made possible by people who really care.

And then I thought about the value our society places on care for the aged and I cringed. We spend money on the things we love and value. Sadly, our country does not score well on this front when it comes to caring for our elderly.

My kids now jokingly say, “Dad, when you get old, we are going to put you in a CLAC home.” I’m glad about that because I know that CLAC members are people of principle, people who care, and people whose values mesh with mine. I know that I will be treated with respect, dignity, fairness, and integrity because that’s what we in the CLAC family believe and do—regardless of the challenges.

I’m still a long way off from that time, but the reality is that the years do creep up on us. In the meantime, we’ll continue to advocate for the respect and funding that our seniors and their caregivers deserve. Growing old is tough enough as it is.

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