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Advice & More September 2016

5 Lessons I Learned from Old People

By Suzy Cohen

After working in facilities and seeing some people (even young ones who were there due to accidents) I learned that life is short, you do not have forever. Stop waiting for a better time or 20 years will fly by. Say yes and do it. Live your life before your life is lived.

I used to work in nursing homes where mostly old people live, or those who are very sick or terminal. I had a special practitioner license and served as the Consultant Pharmacist of Record for about 11 nursing homes across Florida. Part of my job was to write monthly medical orders to the physicians to discontinue prescribed medications and lower dosages all with one goal: Make the resident (the patient) feel their best. Some things stuck with me and now I will share:

  • I learned not to assume. Some old people smiled at me, and some cried a lot. You might assume the smiley ones had less depression and pain, while the crying folks were the sad, depressed ones. Never assume. The smiley people may just be pushing harder, and those who are crying may be in horrific pain (not depressed). Crying is sometimes the only way you can speak when your mouth can’t explain how desperate you are in your body.    
        
  • I learned to send “love” in the mail. I noticed that people who had friends or family visit them during the week required less medicine (and lower doses) than those residents who spent every day alone. If you can’t be physically present, then mail something. I have often been miles apart from my children and elderly parents, but to this day I still send little gifts or cards in the mail reminding them that I love them even though we are far apart.

  • I learned respect and compassion. Some elderly have lost control of many things including their bladder function, their ability to walk, their home, car, vision, their children and sometimes their mind. We need to remember that every time an old person is in our way, walking too slow, taking too long… you know once upon a time they were just like you. They had it all, they were happy, on top of the world and excited about tomorrow. People used to ask for their advice, now they are invisible. I always show respect and compassion.

  • I learned to say yes. Saying no to things is easy because there’s always tomorrow. Is there? After working in facilities and seeing some people (even young ones who were there due to accidents) I learned that life is short, you do not have forever. Stop waiting for a better time or 20 years will fly by. Say yes and do it. Live your life before your life is lived.

  • I learned how little things make people happy. Like painting their nails in the activity room, giving them $5 to spend, or brushing their hair or … holding their hand and telling them everything’s gonna be all right (even on their deathbed as they were nearing their last breath). Show up with love in your heart and even if you’re just sitting there to keep them company, do it with full attention. Stay home if you can’t come to them with a happy heart. They FEEL you – don’t ask me how I know.

 

A licensed pharmacist for over 22 years Suzy Cohen shares the pros and cons of medication use as well as natural substitutions for most any of your health concerns. Visit Suzy's website at www.dearpharmacist.com.

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