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Serving Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Knox, McDonough, Mercer, Schuyler, Rock Island, and Warren Counties.

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Aging is a process that we can’t avoid or stop, right?  

I work with older adults every day and it is not uncommon for me to spend time at visits trying to reassure someone that it is not their fault or they shouldn’t feel ashamed over something related to their age. We live in a time where it is so important to communicate all day long and be connected to others. Just think about all the time spent on social media for that very reason. Think about our desire to be like others and to “fit in”. This doesn’t change as we age but it does get more difficult, causing people to feel shameful for being older.  

Some people are ashamed of the way they look. People feel the same inside no matter if we are 20 or 80 years old. So the idea that you look in the mirror and you look “old” may make people really uncomfortable at times. It is like you are looking in the mirror at a stranger.“ I used to have beautiful hair and soft skin or look at my hands and the wrinkles, they are horrible” are common things I hear people say. The most common one is about their hand writing. Older hands are often shaky and some people aren’t able to sign their name like they used to. The generation I work with, penmanship was taught as something to be proud of, so losing that ability can be embarrassing.  

Some feel shame for being unproductive in a world where productivity is valued. Many in this generation worked very hard for a living and were proud of contributing to society.  Now they are retired and live on a limited income, which sometimes makes medications and professional caregivers unaffordable. We no longer live in a society that takes our elders into our homes and makes them feel included and supported. Children are often working into their later years and are so busy they might not be able to support that lifestyle and household dynamic, leaving our older adults alone in their homes and not equipped to manage very easily. They then feel ashamed if they need to call on their family for help because they don’t want to burden anyone.  

Then there is the shame they feel for the equipment that is now needed to remain independent at home.  People don’t want to use a walker; the idea of going out with it sometimes causes people not to go out at all anymore. How about oxygen? The idea of taking oxygen tanks everywhere you go makes some people anxious and even afraid of what others will think. In a fast-paced society, these impairments are a real struggle.  

No one should feel ashamed for getting older. There is help available to assist loved ones to remain active and independent. Western Illinois Home Health Care can help your family find resources and services to help your loved one in their home. If you, or someone you know, is in need of our specialized services, please call 1-800-228-5993.

Amanda Powell, BSW, is a Senior Care Manager at Western Illinois Home Health Care

August 2016

by Amanda Powell

Older Adults Ashamed for Being Old

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