Vignettes in Aging – Awareness

As we age, our world shrinks a little. Instead of looking ten yards ahead, we’re more focused on exactly where our next step is so we don’t take a tumble. This shrinking decreases our awareness of everything around us. That is why we elders are better targets for nefarious activities. Our awareness, however, doesn’t necessarily decrease, it shifts away – from one thing to another. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – it’s part of the aging process.

Oftentimes, this shift reduces our awareness in a more personal sense:  we listen less acutely, we lose the sense of the friends and family around us, we become less aware of the impact of our activities on others, and we become less involved in participating in everything and anything.  We also lose a sense of the emotional needs of people we’re in relationship with, including ourselves.

What is the antidote to decreasing awareness? Slow down — but don’t block others. We’ve all been stopped dead in our tracks halfway into the grocery store by a person who is, once inside, stopping to get their bearings and look around. So, be sure you don’t impede the journey of anyone zooming by.

We need to take more time to be aware of how we are feeling and observe what is going on around us. Engage in where you are. Don’t we all know that elder who looks like the deer in the headlights, standing still – completely out of it and probably scared.

If you need help to be aware, get it! Shop with a friend or family member or caregiver. Make sure you have all the gadgets you need to stay in touch: phones for the hard of hearing, walkers and wheelchairs, a community of concerned friends and relatives, and someone you can rely on to share your concerns and problems.

What can you do to increase your awareness today? What can you do to help another whose awareness is dwindling?