Why do some aging parents make the effort, while others don’t?
The stage at Carnegie Hall looked different this past Sunday. A large wood structure, painted to go with the Hall’s decor, occupied the space the podium usually occupies. James Levine, almost 70, was returning, in a wheelchair, to conduct the NY Philharmonic.
“One of America’s greatest living conductors,” (NY Times 5/19/13) and music director of the NY Philharmonic, the maestro had been sidelined for 2 years by spinal problems, shoulder injuries, and multiple back surgeries. The NY Times, reported “A year ago, he said, ‘I couldn’t really move my legs, and a few months before that I couldn’t feel anything in them.’ It took him quite a while, he added, to even think of whether he would conduct again.”
August 2011, when he fell while on vacation causing another serious back injury, Mr. Levine said he was at his lowest point. Yet in May 2013–“Against all odds, James Levine is back” was the opening sentence in the NY Times. Obviously a great deal of “will”–on his part and on the part of Carnegie Hall led to the “way” to make what may have seemed impossible two years ago–a reality.
We see older people with the will. They no doubt aren’t as famous as James Levine. Yet they have that something within that pushes them forward and won’t let them quit. Sr. Advisor R is one.
I think back to Sr. Advisor R’s rehab after breaking her 97-year-old hip (femur) and her observations of the daily small group physical therapy sessions she participated in. She was the oldest there, yet she observed some younger people found the physical therapy very difficult and didn’t even try. (We were told, she tried encouraging them.)
That said, why do some do, while others don’t make the effort? Does it go back to People Change, Not Much? If they didn’t make the effort when they were younger, can they can’t be expected to change when they’re older?
There are, of course, those in the middle. Most probably make the effort when it’s worth it or they’re passionate about something, but–lacking perceived worth and passion– don’t have the will to do what it takes. This is often frustrating to us adult children. We can easily get caught between wanting what we want for them and what they want–or don’t want– for themselves.
Dr. Bud weighs in tomorrow. Please come back tomorrow night.