At my annual physical the other day, the receptionist handed me new forms to fill out. Forms with new questions. As soon as I glanced over them I realized these new questions were because I just had that darned Big Decade Birthday.
One of the forms was “Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL).” All the questions were in the third person. Here’s the set for “Ability to use telephone”:
1. Operates telephone on own initiative, looks up and dials numbers, etc. 1 point
2. Dials a few well-known numbers 1 point
3. Answers telephone but does not dial 1 point
4. Does not use telephone at all 0 points
I noticed I get one point if I can answer a phone, even if I can’t dial one. Can I have two points for being able to use a computer?
“Takes care of all shopping needs independently.” Well, no, Jerry and I do the shopping together. But I could do it alone if I had to.
“Plans, prepares, and serves adequate meals independently.” Well, no, when I’m writing I lose track of time until Jerry brings breakfast (lunch, dinner) up on a tray for both of us. But I could if I had to.
“Maintains house alone. . .” “Does personal laundry completely. . .” “Travels independently on public transportation. . .” “Is responsible for taking medication in correct dosages at correct time. . .” “Manages financial matters independently. . .”
OKAY, NO, I DON’T. JERRY DOES EVERYTHING. I’M SPOILED ROTTEN, SO SUE ME! I COULD DO THESE THINGS IF I HAD TO! I gave myself one point for every category and two points for filling out the form myself.
Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living: Yes, I can tie my own shoes, I can move in and out of bed unassisted, I exercise complete self control over urination and defecation, I can get food from plate into mouth without help. Point, point, point, point. AND I can answer these questions without help.
How rude. How invasive and humiliating. How depressing.
Then I was admitted into the doctor’s inner sanctum and the sous-doc had a checklist. Do you know today’s date? Can you remember these three words? Can you draw a clock showing ten minutes past eleven?
(I have to admit I had this test a year or two ago. I was rattled. I hadn’t seen an analog clock for awhile, especially one with actual numbers on it, and I couldn’t quite picture one. I flunked that part. That was before I started taking ginkgo biloba.)
I nailed that insufferable clock this time. And I still remember the three words: banana, sunrise, chair.
But the whole thing was unnerving. I was so afraid I’d mess up. Where would they put me if I did?
When the Lord got through to me on the way home He gave me a different perspective. Look at all the things you can still do that many of your friends can’t. Think of all those, some even a decade younger than you, whom you and Jerry drive places, steady as they lean on a cane, or push around in wheelchairs. You filled out forms for your brother yesterday. Last time you visited her, you helped your mother-in-law go to the bathroom.
Be grateful for what you can do for yourself–and for the time it saves–so you can do them for others.
That’s right, I forgot. I’m aging gratefully.