During the past week, I spent many hours with some people who are 75 to 85 years old. These include the mother of a close friend, the friend's step-dad and assorted siblings and in laws. These elderly folks are wonderful caring people. And they are very needy. Are all older people this needy? Is this a foreshadowing of my behavior?
When I say 'needy' I don't mean the needs often surrounding obvious physical challenges related to aging. I mean that some people in this age range are scared, judgmental, demanding, resistant to change in routine, fixed in their expectations and on and on. I don't say this to be critical or judgmental. At this moment, I am merely observing.
The mother of the friend is in the hospital recovering from a hip replacement. She is normally a sweet, caring 82-year-old. But she has had significant mood swings during the week she has been in the hospital. Those moods went from her funny sense of humor to verbal meanness to insulting staff and family to intimidating family members to stay with her constantly, despite the incredible inconvenience to them and the fact that she slept most of the time.
The spouse of the patient is in her age range and has also been demanding and somewhat negative during this ordeal. Is that because he is 'old' or is it just because he is genuinely concerned and upset? His concern is genuine. But his attitude is annoying at times.
Rewind twenty years to when I was in a hospital for two weeks. I was close to age 40, had no family nearby, had two close friends who checked in on me daily and I was afraid I would never walk again. I have an obsessive personality but I am also positive and I don't usually ask for help. I had a backup plan in case I really couldn't walk; fortunately I healed. The only 'demand' I made was for a friend to give me a ride home when I was discharged. I also asked my roommate for a little help cooking meals and I temporarily switched cars with her because driving my stick shift car was a challenge for a few weeks.
What would my behavior be if I was hospitalized at my current age? More importantly, how would I act if I was in my 80s? This takes me back to a rephrasing of my original question: are seniors needy? Demanding? Selfish? Helpless? Is this our future? Or are boomers more self-reliant than seniors?
As is usually the case, I have more questions than answers. I feel bad that I used a friend's family as examples but as I said, these are observations. My own parents seemed needy too, but less so. Maybe that observation is one answer to my questions.