Monday, May 18, 2009

Dr. William Thomas aka: Dr. Bill

On my nightstand is the book, WHAT ARE OLD PEOPLE FOR, by Dr. WilliamThomas. It is a great book to read if you are already elderly or are approaching that stage of life.

I know that most of you were introduced to Dr. Bill on Ronni Bennett's blog, Time Goes By. His first video asked elders to sign a letter to Oprah requesting her to have him as a guest on his show. He has just made a new challenge to the elders. He wants us to make a video on aging and explains it in the following video. More videos can be seen on Time Goes By.

I do not have a video camera but I will write about my aging experience. It is my hope that many will accept his challenge because he is a wonderful advocate for elders.
Wisdom comes from knowledge and the more the young people understand about aging the more tolerant they will become.
I am satisfied with my life, but I know there are many elders that have severe challenges to face and they often have to do it alone. Dr. Bill would like to change the way elders are viewed and the way they live. He needs our help.

Reflections on Aging

Aging begins with birth but accelerates in the later years. It is an ongoing process.

I was not aware of the aging process because it was so gradual. I think I first gave it some thought when I turned 50. I was eligible for senior discounts at many places and was able to join AARP. I was then considered old. I found this to be hilarious because I did not feel old. I couldn't run as fast and I became tired a little sooner than I had years ago, but nothing else seemed different.

Looking back on the intervening years I find that each change in my capabilities was so gradual that I easily adjusted to the process as it happened. I can only compare the wearing out of the body to a motor. The parts begin to slow down and not function quite as well as they did when they were new, but they still work. Eventually one part fails and the other parts have to take over the chore. Then another part wears out and the whole motor begins to stall.

From the time I was a small child my passion was travel. To go to a foreign country was the ultimate goal of a lifetime. I was able to fulfill this dream when I was in my early sixties. That's when the first part of my body failed me. My knee became exceedingly painful during the tour. I still didn't feel old, however. I was an active person with a bum knee.

I took my last trip to Europe when I was in my mid-seventies. Then it hit - I was not enjoying the trip with the pleasure I had felt on previous trips. There were times when I just wished that I was home in my own bed. I suddenly felt old and realized that I just couldn't do this anymore. I think the awareness that my body was no longer able to stand the rigors of traveling by myself was dwarfed by the fact that I no longer felt excitement. The former joy of life had dwindled along with the physical deterioration.

The aging process seemed to go a little faster from that point on. I took longer to complete every task and tired very quickly. It has continued to be a slow decline . My eyes are dimming, my bones are porous, and the motor has broken parts now.

I am maintaining my independence as best I can. I now need a cleaning woman to do my floors, but I continue to live alone and take care of myself. I really have few complaints and am just amazed to still be here. I will turn 84 next week and I think I am doing very well.

On the whole I find many wonderful things about being old. I have the freedom to do whatever I choose to do. I am not responsible for anyone except myself. I can be as selfish as I wish without guilt. My days are full of the simple pleasures. I am grateful for the parts that still work. I can read, watch programs that I enjoy, write and call friends, or simply do nothing. The choice is mine and mine alone.

The days fly by and life is good. Yet, I am old and have the fears that accompany being an elder.

If you ask any elder what they fear most you will hear them tell you that losing their independence is their biggest fear. Some refuse to quit driving for that reason and others continue to live alone, even though they are not capable of taking care of themselves. Like me, the specter of a stroke is frightening. The second fear is suffering Alzheimer's disease or of Dementia. Each time a word is forgotten the loss of one's mind is hovering on the edge of one's awareness. I am forgetting words so often now that it becomes an ever present fear.

No elder wants to be a burden, but as our bodies and minds begin to wear out we are forced to think of how we should handle this situation. That's where Dr. Bill Thomas comes in. He has solutions for dealing with the realities of aging and making these years of freedom happier. No one wants to end up in a nursing home, but the reality is that many of us will. Lets help Dr. Bill eliminate that necessity with his planned retirement communities.


Nancy said...


I think I enjoyed reading your post today and now would like to comment, but, I forget what I wanted to say.

Is this a case for Dr. Bill or Dr.Phil?

One Woman's Journey said...

Darlene, thank you. I am trying to share in my journal what is happening to me. Sharing that I am still active, healthy and reasonably "sane". I really could not tell much differance in energy level until a little over 2 years ago at 70 I started planning a move to the city and built my current home. Now in the process of building another home I tire more easily and want so to be back in my hometown. How long I can be there I do not know - but hopefully I am on the way.

Looking to the Stars said...

Darlene, thanks for sharing. i have always loved the elderly and feel more comfortable with them then most people my age (52). i think i've always felt that way because my parents were so much older when i was born. I too do not feel my age but i am slowing down, my body is telling me that i am getting older and i am adjusting. I really enjoy all your posts, they keep me updated and knowledgeable :)

Darlene said...

*Nancy - I think it's a Dr. Phil subject. ;-)

*One Woman's Journey - You seem to have twice as much energy at 72 than I had at 22. Keep going, girl.

*Looking at the Stars - I am an old clock ticking away slowly and each year I get slower. That seems to be the way it works.

Xtreme English said...

i don't think i understand the aging process. or else i am in total denial. yes, it is quite different from my youth, but it's also more satisfying.

when i was young, i lived in terror that people would know my innermost thoughts. now i blog about 'em all the time. maybe not ALL my secrets, but you know....blah blah blah...and furthermore...blah blah blah....

when i was young, i had no money. now i don't have quite as much as would allow me to live in luxury, but how much luxury can you handle? i've got so much i can't get rid of it fast enough.

i don't have to drive any more. i can get on the bus for half price and ride all over. and they pay me to stay home and not go to work any more!

i have aches and pains, but my doctor has reassured me that i can take
tylenol extra-strength and not worry about it.

i wish i had a garden, and i wish i had been able to figure out just wot the helen brown it would take to find a nice partner to live with and not wish we didn't.

but i live right smack dab in the middle of a big, vibrant city. when i was young, i'd look out the windows at an empty field. when the wind was from the northwest (most of the time), the tumbleweeds would roll toward the house. and when the wind shifted, they'd come rolling back the other way.

When I was young, we never went anywhere cuz of WW2. now i celebrated my 70th birthday in Paris.

when i was young, i believed in god. now i know that the operative part is that if there is a god, she believes in me.

Darlene said...

*Xtreme English - Life is different, that's for sure.

Ronni Bennett said...

Beautiful post, Darlene. I love the honesty and especially the compensations that come when certain parts begin to fail. Well done.

Lydia said...

What a phenomenal piece of writing, Darlene! You write about aging with such honesty, telling it like it is without complaints or sentimentality. I don't think that anyone who produces a tape for Dr. Bill will exceed what you've written here.
Incidentally, I thank you for this post because I've rather neglected finding out what all this Dr. Bill news has been about. I'll watch his interview, etc.

Celia said...

Darlene, you write so well, I found myself nodding my head at comment after comment. You are so right, the two of the things I value are my driver's license and my thinker. You're a testimony to the energetic brains that continue to be thoughtfully engaged in life throughout their lives. Thanks.

Darlene said...

*Lydia - Thank you so much for your comment. It made my day.

*Celia - How nice of you to visit and make such a kind comment. Thank you.

LadyLuz said...

Thank you Darlene for telling us so honestly how aging is for you.

Darlene said...

* Lady Luz - You are so welcome.

Marylou said...

Wow, and yeh you...this topic is too important to be frivolous about..yes, we all need to keep a sense of humour and humility and gratitude. But the journey to the centre of longevity is a brave and arduous one. We need to encourage and cheer each other on, rewarding the markers, acknowledging the grandeur of the moment...Yes I am!!!...still standing, still tall, still capable of loving, laughing, and giving appreciation to others...Darlene, you are magnificent in your energies and curiosity and your acknowledgement of the need for adjustments along the way...but, ambling or trotting, along the way we go and still a long way to go...Marylou