Have fun till the night comes riding in


Have fun till the night comes riding in

"If your Mum and Dad have crossed into their old age with grace and dignity, stop being a pest"

By Bikram Vohra

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Published: Thu 17 Jan 2019, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 18 Jan 2019, 1:00 AM

My friend's dad is 94. He is spry and alert and loves to eat. But they won't let him. Everyone else is cutting out pieces of his life to prolong it by making him miss it. The dimensions of what is allowed get smaller by the day.

He tells me how tough it is to keep dad away from cold cuts and Coke and cheese. All the wrong things.

Why wrong, I ask, in moderate quantity, let him have what he likes, stop being such a party pooper.
He gives me a dirty look. Then, who will take care when he is sick, he says, easy to talk.
I am wide-eyed at the arrogance of youth (he is 65). I say, he's 94, let him do what he wants, what is wrong with you, this is misplaced love, he has earned the right to have cheese in his chicken mortadella, where do you fit into it?

You can stand outside the tent and judge it, he says, but then he feels ill because he overdoes it and gets indigestion and then we have to run around.

And I wonder sometimes, after a certain age what percentage is there in whittling away the quality of life.

Many of us doing it at a much younger age, even 40 being the cut-off date. You just have to Google for a headache tablet and follow the links and in 20 minutes you probably have the symptoms of 16 exotic ailments.

But seriously, we start cutting back pretty early in life and my argument is if he has reached 94, let it be, let him enjoy whatever he enjoys.

I am at a dinner the other day and two men in their 40s have high sugar, a third is detoxing (his own confession, whatever that means), a fourth is losing weight and has gone on diet and a fifth has turned vegan. Half the age of the father and they are already into tailoring their intake, cutting things out.

You cannot even blame them entirely because the day is full of fears smacking you in the face. In the morning, you read an article saying 'Sitting is the new smoking' and people who sit and work are more likely to keel over and kick the bucket. Then, in the afternoon, you read that milk and all dairy is bad for you and for all those years of milk, ice cream and cheese, there will be a price to pay. Salt is bad. Sugar is bad. Coffee is bad. Tea is bad. Rice is bad. Cake is bad. Oil is bad. Fried is deadly. By evening, you are watching a video that asks you if you have any of these 12 symptoms, and if you do, then it could be time to say goodbye, cruel world.

So, if your Mum and Dad have crossed into their old age with grace and dignity, stop being a pest. We get into this misplaced whirl of concern and rob them of the little joys left in their lives. Food is one of those bright spots in an otherwise dreary and monotonous day - but we do not see it.
Fact is, the siblings, themselves no spring chickens, are reducing their levels of inconvenience and being motivated by the hassle it will cause them if the old folks become unwell. They do not need the aggravation, so just place a noose around their parents' lives and restrict everything.

See it from the older parents' point of view. The sun is dipping and there is not much new to do. Just waiting, all passion spent, others telling you what is good for you. Organising the life you are missing, stopping you from the things you want to do when there are only grains of sand left in the hourglass.

Sure, keep an eye on the overdoing - but let go of the reins. I get into an argument with my friend over his dad.

TV is limited because it strains his eyes. He must take a 20-minute walk on order, even if he doesn't feel like it. Live from tablet to pill to capsule. Wear a sweater even in summer. Sleep early, drink lukewarm water, don't read too long. Don't, don't, don't.

I make a gentle suggestion. Let him enjoy what he likes, most of us won't even get there. You are not making life any better by taking the fun out of it.

Go on, pass judgement, I have to do the rushing around if he gets an upset stomach; last week, he ate spices and was so unwell, I had to leave office, miss a conference call and take him to the doctor.
There you are. just the point we were making. It is the 'I' factor. Your conference call can be made later. Like I said, you do not have to go wild but you don't have to tame the elderly to the point where they are robbed of all the fun.

That's why sometimes the 'hospice' concept makes sense. They let you do what you enjoy, even smoke. Go on, dad, knock yourself out, have a double cheeseburger, slurp a coke, enjoy yourself before the night comes riding in.

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