I had a conversation with a man that is 101 years old. The other workers told me to stay with him for a while because they thought he had become confused and forgetful. They thought he would not be safe alone in is room.
So, I sat with him and asked him what was up. He told me.
He said, “I am old.”
I said, “How old are you?”
He said, “I was born in March of 1913.”
“You are 101 years old? Wow, that is really neat.” I said
“I am old.” he said ” I am old and tired. They all think I am confused because I say that. But I am old and I am tired. I don’t understand why I am still here.”
He continued on “The same thing happened to my mother. She lived to be over 100. She was not happy about it. She was old ad tired.”
“I understand,” I said. “You are old and tired and everything is hard for you. Your family and friends are all in heaven and you don’t know why you are still here.”
“That’s right,” he said.
It is strange to me that people think someone is confused when they say they no longer want to be here on the earth.
Sometimes people are old and tired and they are just done. That is how they feel. They are not confused about it. They are only wondering when they will die and why they are still here when everyone they love has passed on.
They miss their spouse and their children who have long since passed away. It is not easy to be 101 years old.
He is not forgetful or disoriented at all. he is not confused. he knows exactly how he feels and no one wants to listen to it.
Feeling like you want to die is unacceptable. It is not proper therefor the person must be confused or have dementia.
I spoke with this man for 20 minutes and he had no signs of dementia. His memory is better than mine is.
Afterwards I told the supervisor that he was depressed. She said “he is forgetful and confused.”
There is a difference between forgetful and disoriented and being depressed. Most people don’t expect old people to feel depressed.
They think they are too old to have anything going on with them except dementia and forgetfulness.
Sometimes people feel the way they feel, even if it doesn’t fit into people’s comfort zone.
I was glad they called me to sit with him. He was honest and forthcoming with me because I was willing to listen without judgement.
Whenever someone says they don’t want to live, people tell them “You don’t mean that”. But they do. People don’t say things like that if they don’t really feel that way.
At least someone listened and believed him. It isn’t much but it was the least I could do.