My run of good health came to an abrupt end a few of weeks back and I have been in and out of the hospital. The recovery is on but I have been left with a barely functioning right-hand that bemoans at the thought of heavy movement (Blame those IV injections). The thought of typing is painful but today is my blog's third birthday and of course, I wanted to butt in and wave a hello with my left hand!
And also leave something to ponder that has been doing rounds in my head.
This happened to me at the pathology lab I frequented for my medical tests. It was still very early in the morning, and particularly rainy – only a handful of us sleepily making our way pricks and pees. I was as far from dwelling on ageing as I peed in the cup as I am to landing on Mars, but I did!
The lowdown of what happened –
There was a lady, a very old lady seemingly unaccompanied who was there to take some tests.
She had to enter her details in the system before they could take her blood. It seemed that she was a little short of hearing, so they asked her for her details, ever so slowly – repeating every key word. Her answers were apologetic and laced with regret as she asked them to repeat their questions, visibly fretting over the "inconvenience" she was causing.
When I looked around the room, every person wore the same gentle, patronizing smile. The lab guys also somehow assumed that she will not know what a cellphone is let alone remember the number, and proceeded to mansplain it. They also preferred to overlook her remarks at the tests she had to take and just refer to the prescription.
Because she was old, and frail and apologetic?
She was impaired of hearing, but she was evidently of sound mind! Her answers were crisp and clear, her command on the language clearly showed that she was well-informed. But yet she was denied of this control and the basic level of respect. Worst part is that she probably constitutes the majority – almost all old people I have met look at themselves as an inconvenience!
It has never hit me so squarely as it hit me that day – of the constant babying of older people. And I doubt we realize we are doing it – we stay in the delusion of being understanding and helpful. But on the flipside, I know for a fact that if anyone speaks to me like that, it will be an incessant blow to my dignity. It's a casual ageism that I need to contain next time I speak to anyone elderly – especially my grandma.
Thoughts? I apologize in advance for not giving a prompt reply – my hand will take a while to recover.