Aging Parents: Stark Reality–When Eyesight Fails

Letting Go–Preparing The Last Income Tax at 100

This is the last time Sr. Advisor R is doing her income tax preparation for the accountants. Yes, she’s 100. Yes, she still lives independently, alone in her home of over 60 years. Yes, she has a blood clot that has greatly diminished vision in one eye. Yes, she uses not 1, but 2 magnifying glasses when the normal print is too small. And yes, all of this is pretty amazing, but it has been extremely arduous and overly time-consuming this winter and has been a source of stress.

That said, R has worked at simplifying everything in her life as age has slowed her down. Giving up income tax preparation  (still using legal pad and adding machine), is a big concession. She has been doing it over 40 years. As Julia, another independent elder referred to in past posts, said many years ago “No one likes to see a lessening of themself.”

(R prided herself on doing the preparatory tax work and has been praised since widowhood for her understanding and accurate attention to detail in this regard. In fact, in the early 1060’s, when most women her age knew little about their husband’s [or their] finances, one accounting firm asked if she would do the intake and explain the process to widows.)

Although there’s some peripheral vision, I’m quite certain R’s left eye (with the clot) would qualify as legally blind. She was just told it cannot improve. That’s a big blow.  Especially to R, who always does exactly as the doctor orders. Aging, however, takes its toll on the body and stuff happens–sooner or later–as we know.

So where’s the sunshine on this cloudy day? It could be that in spite of macular degeneration, R’s right eye has fairly good vision; yet the ophthalmologist indicated it could change. Sunshine? R feels there just isn’t any. Yet I believe all mental health professionals would agree–at times like this it helps no one to play the Pollyanna role. Support and a lot of listening is the operative advice for caring friends and family.

We’re talking about loss. It’s hard.  It’s real and no doubt scary; particularly for an independent centenarian with a still-good mind. So unless a friend or family member has recently had the same experience, many sayings like “I know how hard this must be” aren’t helpful. Rather “What can I do for you?” or “I’d like to do something to make it easier this week–can I …………..?” show caring.

We may not do everything perfectly from here on out and consulting with people from Lighthouse will be–or possibly has been–suggested, subject to R’s agreeing. Many cities have Lighthouse branches that, I hear, do a great job making life better for people with compromised vision.

So we say a prayer, try to be there if possible to lend support and love, and will do the best we can as we help R face another hurdle. As R’s mother used to say, “Angels Can Do No More.”

Changing often: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

 3/26/14 Help! Aging Parents was again nominated for a blog award. Click the top gold badge (right sidebar) to vote and view all senior living categories. Deadline 4/28/14 


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