Weekly musings, 12/10/17: Aging and play
My almost 12 year old pomapoo is losing his eye sight. He stumbles into things once in a while, and he’s scared walking at night unless he’s near my feet. He’s never liked loud noises, but now that hearing is a sense he relies on more fully, he stops when he deems a loud noise threatening and turns around, facing the other direction.
Other than these behaviors, he’s still active, and he still plays with his toys, chasing balls he can’t always find. An outsider looking in wouldn’t know anything was wrong, because he looks fine.
I have learned to adjust my expectations when we walk, patiently shining the light and going slowly down curbs. I pick him up when we cross busy intersections, because otherwise he might sit down in the middle of the road, overwhelmed by the noise.
I train people of all ages. Everyone is capable of learning, and everyone is capable of gaining strength and mobility, regardless of age and circumstance. As people get older, they may move a touch slower or have to think about things a little bit longer before they “get” what you are asking, but they still enjoy being challenged in a thoughtful way. Dribbling a ball, tossing washcloths (one of my favorite games to play with clients), and utilizing hand eye coordination in a way that feels athletic ignites a playfulness in people that transcends age.
Winter the pomapoo reminds me daily that empathy is important, but so is encouraging playfulness. We are only as old as we feel. The people around us and the activities we partake in influence our beliefs about ourselves, so surround yourself with people that believe in keeping a sense of humor and a sense of play as you navigate the adventure that is life.