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menos daughter. Until my young dad of 64 in September became afflicted I observed his patience with my children and his other grandchildren. Dad always included them in his projects and gave them tasks that were within their range of capabilities. He always said there is no such thing as accidents so if Freddie squeezed out all the glue he would say things like: that is okay-I've made those errors myself and learned from them so lets try not to do that again. I also watched how he cared for his elderly father-patience is key and my dad sometimes deliberately made correctable errors and would say uh oh-I must be having a senior moment-lets try that again. Simple tasks like tying a tie. Dad would notice gramps having a hard time and he would say you know-I must be getting old too-I forget that tuck all the time or my fingers just don't work like they used to -do you have that problem? In other words he let his much older father de-fuse the frustration by drawing attention to the fact that getting older is nothing to be ashamed of or worth getting worked up over. My dad helped his father get dressed for church or when they did some project together my dad always sang this song: There is nothing whatever the matter with me. I'm just as healthy as I can be. I have arthritis in both of my knees and when I talk I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak and my blood is thin,
but I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.
I think my liver is out of whack
and a terrible pain is in my back.
My hearing is poor, my sight is dim

most everything seems to be out of trim,
but I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.
I have arch supports for both my feet.
or I wouldn't be able to go on the street.
Sleeplessness I have night after night,
and in the morning I'm such a sight,
my memory is failing, my heads in a spin,
I'm peacefully living on aspirin,
But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.
The moral is, as this tale will unfold,
that for you and me who are growing old,
It's better to say, I'm fine with a grin,
than to let them know the shape we're in.

My dad sang this to his dad as he dressed him, shaved him, bathed him. They would laugh and giggle. I sing this song to my dad now every day when I bathe him and brush his hair. I tickle him behind his knees when I pull up his socks just like he did with his dad and before we know it he is dressed and ready to go for our daily shuffle down to the mail box or to a doctors appointment. I remind him that not just him but all of us are growing old and we can laugh about it, kid about it but only in my room alone do I cry about it. My children are learning this little song. I don't know where it came from. All I know is he sometimes finds the words to sign thank you and if I don't sing it when we are getting ready he makes sure that I do.
It takes away the sting for both of us. It has become our mantra, if you will.

I'm doubtful that if ego has been a problem in someone's earlier years, it is not likely to get better in their later life. In my experience, about the best you can hope for is that whatever assistance is required will be accepted with a minimal amount of resistance. My experience with this is that this doesn't usually happen until things are so far gone that the person who is having the difficulties accepting help and acknowledging need really has no choice any longer, due to accident, illness, hospitalization, etc. At that point, call in whatever supports you, a senior care center, adult day care, assisted living, other friends and family, whatever is available, and hope for the best. It sometimes takes a village to maintain a frail elder.

Accepting that a family member is getting older is difficult for that individual and the family. I hear over and over again, I used to be able to do this, or he used to be able to do that. Certainly we all do that at some point in our lives. The fact is that time and life moves forward, and we need to accept that things change. Not to suggest we should "give in" to growing old, but without respecting and accepting the changes that might go along with it, a person is more likely to make bad decisions for him or herself.

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