I’m sick and tired of everyone telling me how lucky I am. I have rheumatoid arthritis and my vision’s shot. But since I still have some brain function left and my two kids haven’t given up on me yet, I’m told that I should consider myself fortunate that I’m not looney and being held captive in an old-age home. All true; but the truth is – I’m tired. The arthritis has twisted my body into a pretzel and I’m always in pain. I love my kids and don’t want to cause them grief, but I’m 96 years old and just feel done. I’m not useful to anyone anymore but because I’m dependent on caregivers, they make sure I eat, take my meds, get to the doctor and all that good stuff. Mainly I’m just plain bored and with nothing to distract me, all I focus on is the pain. Do you have any ideas for me?
~Old and Bored
Dear Old and Bored,
Wow, 96 years of age! Some may consider this a blessing and others a curse. It must be frustrating to age and have no control over your health, to feel the loneliness when friends die and are no longer in your life and to, now, rely on others for basic needs. First and foremost, we need to address your pain. You can look to your primary physician for help in this matter or perhaps you can have your doctor make a referral for palliative care. This is a Medicare program that focuses on the quality of life for individuals whose death is not imminent, but who have a chronic disease or illness. Often doctors do not talk to their patients about the option of palliative care or even hospice. Palliative care will not cure your arthritis. Pain control will increase your quality of life and may even give you a new outlook on life. You may be able to enjoy your kids and caregivers and make your situation more than tolerable, even enjoyable. Please have your children research the option of palliative care. Best wishes.