I would like to express appreciation for my patients over 80. The longer I practice, the more I have come to enjoy them. They have a lot to say.
I once read an article by an academic attending physician. She described how when she arrived for hospital rounds with her team of medical students, interns and residents, she would ask which patient they would like to present to her. They replied that there was no one worth presenting.
She responded by telling them that everyone was worthy. She asked them to pick out any patient on their team and she would find something interesting about them. They chose a woman in her 80s who was awaiting nursing home placement.
As the attending physician started taking a history, it was revealed that this patient had been a passenger on the Titanic and had quite a story to tell. She held the group spellbound. The students learned quite a lesson that day.
I am lucky to have some of the most wonderful octogenarians and nonagenarians in my own practice. One was a model in New York in the 1940s, another worked on the atom bomb and yet another was a genuine beatnik. I have a couple of patients who lived through the holocaust. They have many life lessons to teach and wonderful stories to tell.
So many times in life we pass by an elderly person or just seem to tolerate our older relatives. If we could stop for a moment and talk to them we might learn about their life and perspective. They can become important teachers and resources.
They have taught me about what it looks like to age gracefully. They have shown me what life is like as we get closer to the end and further from the beginning and what ultimately is important. Not one has looked back on their life and wondered if they could have stayed in their office an hour longer or filed more reports.
Many have expressed regret that they did not have more time with their family members or were unable to mend torn friendships. I think they would all agree that their health, relationships, love and kindness are what matter most in life. Find out what is important to the elders in your life. You might be surprised and delighted with what they have to say.
What have you learned from a family elder? Tell us in the comments below.
Join the largest health conversation in 140 characters or less! Tweet what you want to talk about to @SharecareNow and let’s start chatting!
File under: Expert Spotlight