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Publication: Fifty & Furthermore
What Is Old?

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FIFTY & FURTHERMORE - Thursday, October 5, 2006

"I'm Dr. Dorree Lynn. Growing older can be a time for 
creative and passionate living, and I will apply my years 
as a psychologist to help you with the challenges and 
wonders that come with this new life stage."
------------------------------------------------------------

Hello and welcome to FIFTY & FURTHERMORE! 

Last issue I asked how you viewed being "old" at different 
life stages and if you found yourself repeating behaviors 
you saw in your parents as you reached their age. Below 
are some of your responses. Please continue to share your 
thoughts! If you would like to make a comment or ask me a 
question, please email me at the address below and as 
always, I will do all 
I can to provide you with the advice you seek.

As I always say, "life is too hard to do alone - reach 
out!"

Dr. Dorree Lynn, Psychologist


Please send questions and comments to: 
email Dr. Lynn

Question:

When I was very young, I thought everyone beyond grade 
school was old. When I was in my teens and early 20's, 
I thought those in their 30's and 40's were old. In my 
30's I started maybe only believing those beyond 50 
were old. Now that I am in the end of my 40's, I hardly 
think about it, but I suppose maybe in the 80's. I 
think early in life, "old" is just beyond you, and as 
you creep closer to what you think is "old" it becomes 
much farther away than the few years away it used to be. 
It is true though that inside you don't feel old when 
others see you that way. On a humorous note, the one 
thing I swore I would not do that my "old" parents did 
was pass gas so much. I don't think I have to comment 
any more on that !!!!

Answer:

It's funny how, for many of us, reaching "old age" is 
kinda like chasing "tomorrow." It always seems just a 
step ahead of you yet you can never catch up to it. 
Thanks for the perspective and the laugh. A true sign 
of wisdom is being able to look at yourself and smile!

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Question:

When I was growing up I didnt feel old until I had my 
3rd stroke. When I was 70 I kept wondering when if ever 
I was going to feel old. I was still looking for a wife 
and more children but when this third stroke occured I 
was diagnosed with prostrate cancer. Believe me, the 
combo of 3 strokes and prostrate cancer slowed me down. 
I still don't look old as I much expected to but I feel 
old (no energy) and now i walk wobbly and I cannot run 
anymore even though I live on a mountaintop where I ran 
up and down trails until I turned 76.

Answer:

I'm so sorry you have had so many health complications. 
Ill health can make anyone feel "old," but it seems as 
if you have defied the odds in the past and even 
continued to remain physically fit (jogging mountain 
trails!) when many would have just resigned themselves 
to the couch. I encourage you to use that same 
determined attitude in other ways as you face your cur-
rent challenges.

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Question:

I was reading about what you said about spouses taking 
care of ill spouses. My husband had a brain tumor and we 
struggled for several years. He only worked one year as 
he was diagnosed. The first surgery and chemo was a 
rollercoaster ride. Then the tumor returned. He had 
another brain surgery and had shunt placed. Then we 
discovered MD Anderston in Houston TX and started 
immunology therapy. That worked. Then we dealt with all 
the deficits created by the treatment. He began to treat 
me like a mother, a caregiver, and I became that. Our 
marriage basically stopped.
 
We lived that way for 9 years. I met someone online, a 
good friend at first. Over time, we became fond of each 
other...the support turned to love. We met over 5 years 
ago. 4 years ago he took a risk and relocated. I got 
divorced. Now the three of us have become a family with 
my boyfriend and I taking care of my ex-husband. I 
became his legal guardian. It would not work for every-
one. There are trials and tribulations. Many of our 
friends disapproved at first, until they saw the situa-
tion working. My ex is better cared for by both of us 
than I could ever do by myself. Dealing with major 
brain damage is a tremendous challenge for all of us.
Yes, I could have walked away and left my ex to be in 
the system by himself, but my heart wouldn't let me. I 
don't love him as a husband but I do love him as a 
family member. Therefore I feel responsible and take  
his care seriously. So does my boyfriend who is a giv-
ing personality.His family thought we were all crazy 
for a while. We feel very grateful life has given all 
of us second chances. We are all better together than 
being by ourselves as individuals. My ex's doctor told 
me that in his opinion, alternative families often give 
better care than regular families as they do it out of 
love rather than responsibility.
 
About 5 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with 
alzheimer's. Although she did not live with us, we 
provided the love and care for her to live in her own 
home. Another very stressful time. But we managed until 
her death a year ago.
 
I just wanted to say that after living this for the 
last 14 years, I would never condemn someone for fac-
ing their own challenges, their own way. Spouses who 
provide care for their ill spouses deserve special 
prayers. It is not an easy road. Thanks for being 
there for all of us. I really enjoy your newsletter 
and perspective. Thank you.

Answer:

Your letter prefectly illustrates how most situations 
we face are not black and white. As you said, you are 
facing your own challenge your own way, and in your 
case, it seems everyone is benefitting. What your 
doctor said is very wise. As we age, it often becomes 
more and more necessary to think creatively rather 
than do what is "standard." Often this leads us to a 
solution that works best for our unique challenges 
and personalities. Your boyfriend seems like a wonder-
ful and understanding man, and I can't stress enough 
how important it is that you have someone to support 
YOU as you support your ex-husband. Caregiving is not 
an easy road, and I commend you, your ex-husband and 
your boyfriend for making it work for you. Thank you 
so much for sharing your wisdom.

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     For more insight and advice from Dr. Lynn visit:              
fiftyandfurthermore.com

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