The Memory Channel


For anyone whose paying attention, demographics show a hefty percentage of our population becoming seniorized and the aches in my body combined with the observation of my parents mental decline, bring these statistics into starkness. My father who is 87 years old is the new 54, my mother being 82 well she’s the new 6 and myself, sixty, have some friend’s in their twenties and feel grateful. I read, (which makes me think I should stop reading) somewhere in Europe some guy wants to change his legal documented age from 70 to 50 years old because he looks and feels younger and when I mentioned this to one of my twenty something year old friends he said that’s not unusual and that some guy in the states wants to change his documented sex gender to a ‘muffler’.  Yes, that’s right, that thing underneath the back of a car. Is he joking? Well  I’m grateful for having a cross-section of today’s youth as friends. They keep me on my toes and grounded! If your meandering around the city as I’m want to do, you would come across incident’s where should I be sensitive, would think I’ve been discriminated because of my age. Truth is many people of all ages have lost touch and are resentful. Best is walk and find the happy and search the enthralling.

So recently, I spent a couple of weeks in the psychiatry ward of one of our excellent Toronto hospitals. This happens when a family member calls the police on themselves, believing that someone else is guilty of their own blatancy. The closer truth is we’re all just human. Well I witnessed the calm, cool phone call as Bonnie gave away our location. I being instantly Clyde was surprised to find what seemed to be a SWAT team at our front door. Embedded within was a medical team and having had privilege of acquaintance’s who are military, police, firefighters, EMS and CSIS I didn’t say much as they did their questioning and assessment. After observing the ensuing struggle with this 80 something year old, they carted her away on a gurney. I did do, was warn them she wouldn’t leave her abode without fight and as I suspected police services wasn’t going to listen as they hadn’t figured me out. Not to be flippant, although I love it so, when removing the seriousness, I found it all, as you can see, amusing. They asked if I wanted to join the procession and could ride the ambulance to relieve my concern. I said “no thanks”. “Give me a call when she’s settled in”. If your parent’s are ‘getting up there’, take a break when the opportunity present’s itself.

With relief, a couple of weeks later, we got out of Sing Sing and were then required to do follow up visits with the Memory Clinic. Well Bonnie, sometimes still thinks she’s Bonnie and who knows maybe one day soon I will be Clyde. Come to think of it being gunned down in a hail of bullets could bring us instant relief. Lucky are we, to be devote Christian and against the concept of assisted suicide. We are truly blessed! Those little happy computer faces do they have little angel ones? Anyway these occurrences manifest as we approach the anniversary of a loved persons death. We’re on the road to recovery and doctor give me some pills. Depression, anger and anxiety are emotions that the brain needs to avoid. If the grief is severe combined with immobility and isolation the mind for the sake of preservation begins to shut-down. Neurologist I’m not, however, I’ve made some observations, for what they may be worth. The Memory Clinic unwittingly was quite helpful and I believe the general problem becomes that each case has specific individual needs, whereby their mission is to brush a broad stroke in an attempt to help everyone. Returning to demographics the system is unable to financially and with the amount of humanitarian power needed, cope with the influx of patients. More sad, those with the motor skills and reflexive actions to go through the motions of surviving, but are so alone in their dwellings.

“You think I want to see misery”? As an undocumented caregiver you take statements as these to heart from those you care about. I’ve had to curtail our shared t.v viewing experience because my interests are having a negative impact. The daily news is out, western’s out, military epics down the toilet and upchuck Chucky and anything the like. Could you imagine attempting to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ with my mother. This would be horror superior. These maneuver’s upon recognition, I can control but television itself presents problems with variable programming and other consumer inducing tactics that negatively impact an aged persons mood. The box is still vital because it allows them to feel like they’re still in touch with the world outside themselves. However, the parent’s and I are watching a comedy, commercial break, dog in cage malnourished on verge of death. Great, send money and save them or feel guilt and despair. It’s cruel to expose our seniors to this type of harassment but I understand that profit making is paying for the programming. I can’t sit there for significant periods of time playing “big brother” with my trigger finger on the clicker monitoring potential negatives. Simply not practical although I try, and they won’t do it for themselves because we are not that calculating anymore. Is it my imagination or does the volume heighten and decrease on it’s own. When you observe television through the eyes of a senior your perspective can feel like shock therapy. Comedy today is not the Partridge Family fluff. Although I notice that my parent’s can seem clueless but when “Fraiser” comes on they seem to understand and laugh at the appropriate places.  Even your children are exposed to a level of rottenness and extremism and hyperactivity that I just can’t accept as being necessary to educate. Anyway I could write a book on my observations but I’m busy working on something else.

Solutions. To anybody with gumption and ambition, I see a market, today and tomorrow. Navigating through computers and identifying individual interests for seniors tends to be too complex. Psychiatrists through mental health institutions, to universities and to our cable provider. I’m willing to pay additional for programming that suites the needs of my seniors well being. As a simple observation and without complex logic, differing human types and brain patterns may require more than one channel. Three, four channels could do the trick. Exercise and stimulate their minds in a helpful and healthy way.  I probably couldn’t predict the shape of this kind of concept. Seniors homes could be put to use experimentally in diagnosing collectively a better approach to good living, than random channel searching. We need something between the easy listening music channel and reported shootings at Morningside and Sheppard.  I’m being nice and biting my lip. I’m living the dream. Sayonara.










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