Question

Aging in Care

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1 minutes of reading

Aging in Care

I am 72 and live in a bonsai body. Scoliosis bends to trunk toward where I will return as do we all. I am the guardian of two Papillons who accompany me to Aged-Care Facilities where I spend four mornings each week. What do the aged lack in an institution?

Laughter. The sheer unpredictability of joy—two dogs play and chase. A warm Papillon snuggles down and licks a loving hand. The rasp of a rough tongue on flesh. The wriggle of a restless body—the transmission of energy of one species to another. QED the puppy is now six months old—the aged have accompanied him on his education journey. Glimpsed how he thinks and learns as a dog. Similar, yet different to us. How positive reinforcement enables us all to thrive.

Living growing things—planting gardens in boots and shoes. Totally crazy but let’s learn lateral creativity. A boot garden is manageable to aged hands! Smell the soil. Touch the tiny tendrils of roots before we plant! Watch the rain fall in a terrarium. Discuss the disgusting table manners of carnivorous plants. Speculate on the miracle of tillandsia—give it a bath!!!
Stones, feathers, gumnuts, and leaves. A beetle, a snail, worms in a jar of earth. The aged live in the flat zone when in care—outside is three-dimensional living. Bring it to them—don’t lock them away from it.

We practice smiling to each other! HEY! I AM!

The separation of self
from out there
where tree roots grip the earth
where branches zest
to reach the sky

Seasons carpet the earth
with leaf rustles
Thrusting spears of green
Cycles of going and coming.

Consigned to bedlam
Vacuum cleaners snuffle
Televisions blare
Staff talk to each other
Not the invisible aged
No bird sings
No butterflies flit by

Flowers and leaves
Confined to containers
Wither and die
As do the aged
They were gifted to.

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