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Compassion: The Eldercare Imperative

SENIOR MEN MARRIAGE MOTIVES

My friend (and erstwhile suitor) FIGARO enjoys theater, fine dining, and European travel, but he feels old. For him the most salient characteristic of senior life is its approaching end.  He’s 72 and seems quite healthy, but he thinks about death and its attendant processes. There’s no doubt he wants a loving someone at the bedside when the time comes.

Years ago, when my husband became fatally ill, I felt privileged to care for him and I did so with a full heart. But I am far from having feelings for FIGARO that would allow me to give him that same kind of intimate attention.

THE CARETAKER CONUNDRUM

A senior woman, wanting to guage the potential for success in a relationship with a senior man, should certainly ask, “Can I care for him lovingly and without resentment if he becomes seriously ill?” It’s also important to ask, “If I become ill or disabled, will this man be willing and able to support me lovingly and patiently?”

I sometimes get questions from readers about how old is too old. There are questions behind this question, and they are: How long before he can’t engage in activities I enjoy? How long before he gets sick and I have to take care of him? My answer is always that there is no age limit to love. In “Timeless: Love, Morgenthau, and Me”, Lucinda Franks writes of her passionate long-term marriage to a man 30 years her senior who is now past 90 while she is still in middle age. Not every man is a vigorous as Morgenthau (he still practices law), but that’s not the point. You will want to be with a man you love, no matter what his health situation.

FIGARO isn’t the right guy for me, but I’m positive that when Old Mr. Right shows up I will want to undertake all responsibilities, pleasant or painful, that might insure his comfort and happiness. And wherever OMR is, I like to think that sentiment lives in him, too.

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'Compassion: The Eldercare Imperative' have 13 comments

  1. June 10, 2016 @ 1:16 pm Caregiver. Can You Be A Good One…Again? | Yury Z

    […] contented years with such a man, I absolutely could not and would not (I hinted at this in an earlier post).  If the span of our love was only a matter of months? I would stay, but it’s impossible […]

  2. April 10, 2016 @ 6:26 am Caregiver. Can You Be A Good One…Again? | RJamesBuhr

    […] contented years with such a man, I absolutely could not and would not (I hinted at this in an earlier post).  If the span of our love was only a matter of months? I would stay, but it’s impossible […]

  3. March 13, 2016 @ 9:58 am Caregiver. Can You Be A Good One…Again? | Glo Knows Why

    […] contented years with such a man, I absolutely could not and would not (I hinted at this in an earlier post).  If the span of our love was only a matter of months? I would stay, but it’s impossible […]

  4. August 4, 2013 @ 7:00 am Sienna

    Gary — Thank you for reminding us of the power of deep and abiding love to overcome terrible illness and disability. Your wife was a very lucky woman to have a husband with such caring and sensitivity.

  5. August 3, 2013 @ 3:49 pm Gary

    my wife passed away January this year after a 9 month battle with cancer, she had been extremely ill from psoriatic arthritis for 8 years prior, ulcerative colitis, blindness other side effects, loved her dearly for 37 years, would rather not do it again but great pain and great love go together

  6. April 22, 2013 @ 1:31 pm Chelsea

    Been there, done that. It’s too hard to even think about doing it again.

  7. September 28, 2012 @ 9:37 am Percy

    “I felt privileged.” That’s beautiful, Sienna. Any man lucky enough to be nursed by someone with that attitude should thank his lucky stars.

  8. May 11, 2011 @ 1:35 pm Trina

    I’m with someone right now who nursed his wife through 18 years of illness. I’m not sure he could do it again with me, although we have a nice relationship. I’m not planning to discontinue my long term care insurance payments.

  9. January 3, 2011 @ 11:46 am ElizAnn

    This hits it right on the head, and I know women who’ve taken care of their husbands up to the end would agree. Thanks for these sensitive words.

  10. July 22, 2010 @ 11:55 pm Gerry

    No one really knows how he or she will act if a partner’s illness comes. You can plan for it insurance wise and money wise, but not emotionally.

  11. July 18, 2010 @ 10:15 am Jeremy

    Dating me is just like dating any man except you have to look for wheelchair entrance ramps. Its a turn off when a woman gets in your way trying to do everything for you. But on the other hand some women won’t offer to do even obvious things like reaching for something that’s too high for me because they think they’ll be hurting my pride. Summing up, I like a woman who doesn’t overanalyze and sees me as a person, not a disability.

  12. July 6, 2010 @ 6:19 pm Sienna

    Jeremy, your comment is thought-provoking. I would be grateful if you could tell us what the “right ways” could be. I’m sure there are women who mean well but don’t know the difference between empathy and sympathy.

  13. July 3, 2010 @ 5:04 am Jeremy

    I hope you find him. As a disabled man, I can tell you it’s tough to find a woman you can count on to be helpful in the right ways. Either they ignore your needs or they overdo it. Good luck.


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