August 24th 2016
Today I’m terrified of getting old. I came back from work and my Grandad was sat on my sofa. He was at my house because my Grandma’s brother, my Great Uncle Ken, had fallen over whilst watering his neighbour’s garden. We think he passed out and fell down. He’s 79 years old and has just had major knee surgery, so when he woke up again he was on the floor with no way of standing up. He walks with a cane, and struggles to get up out of an armchair, there was no way that he’d have the strength to lift himself off the floor.
He was led there for four hours before someone found him.
Another neighbour eventually heard Ken shouting for help, they called an ambulance which came and took him to the hospital. I think he’s going to be okay. They’re keeping him in overnight to do some more tests. My sister says that when an old person falls over the doctors aren’t worried about any injuries sustained during the fall, the more important thing is to find out why they fell. So I think that’s what the doctors are trying to find out.
They phoned my Grandma, who went to the hospital with Ken and my Grandad came to ours for us to watch over him. My Grandad has dementia, you see. He kept saying “I should probably get home to Barbara” and we had to remind him that she was at the hospital with Ken and she’d be back later. At one point he’d put his shoes on and was ready to drive home before I reminded him that my Mum was cooking dinner for all of us. Again, he asked where Barbara was and I had to remind him of the situation. His dementia is not usually as bad as it was tonight, not that I’ve noticed at least, I think he was just confused and stressed by the whole situation. Usually he just gets lost in conversations and will ask the same questions two minutes apart or tell you the same story over and over.
He told me that if he ever fell over then he wouldn’t have the strength to stand up either. And that’s terrifying. The thought of him, or Ken, led on the floor completely helpless until someone could come along to help them. But that’s just old age, I guess. It’s a race between your body and mind as to which one fails you first. And I can’t stand the thought of that. Of that sense of helplessness where you’re no longer in control of your own body, or your own mind. It’s so horrible to think about. I’m 23 years old, and I think about that stuff a lot, actually. It’s my only real fear. Well, death and growing old. But one is a consequence of the other.
And I know that this is morbid, but it’s reality. A terrifying, horrible reality. I’d rather bail out early than succumb to a point where I am no longer in control of who I am, or what I can do.
I’m sure Ken will be okay. The thing to be thankful for is that someone found him. Four hours is a long time to be alone on the floor – he doesn’t remember most of it – but it could’ve been a lot worse.
And Grandad will be okay. His dementia is not yet bad enough that we have to be scared of him going out one day and not finding his way back home, and his deterioration seems to have slowly regressed. I think. It’s hard to tell.
Until tomorrow, I want to be forever young.