Certain things are a given when you get older. You will grow hair in your ears but lose it on your head. You will start liking the taste of stewed tomatoes but will lose your taste for chocolate. You will need to sit most of the day because you’ll be so weak, but will somehow manage to find the strength to run to the bathroom faster than Usain Bolt when nature calls. Such is life. All we can do is hope for a quick death and an easy one.
But the aging process along the way doesn’t discriminate – and it’s one shady mofo. Whether you decline rapidly or slowly, you will have to endure some terrible things that go far beyond yellowed toenails and losing your driver’s license. And it’s going to be scarier than any ghost story you heard at camp, more frustrating than trying to go five minutes without hearing about some member of the Kardashian clan, and more humiliating than any drunken escapade you had in your youth.
Nothing will prepare you for what lies in wait – except for this list! We are going to tell you all the terrible things that will happen to you when you get old, because we know you take a certain kind of twisted pleasure in the horrific. Just do us one little favor – act surprised when these things happen to you.
15. Your Bowel Movements Will Be Monitored
When you get to a certain age, the first thing your doctor will ask you is how your bowel movements are. But being asked this isn’t even the worst part – it’s the answering that will embarrass you! If your BMs are out of whack, you’ll have to describe to the doctor the particular problems that you are having, which will go beyond constipation and diarrhea. You’ll have to describe the shape (nuggets or ribbons), the color (bloody or tarry) and even the smell. Yes, there is such a thing as “foul-smelling stool” – which is quite redundant if we’ve ever heard it.
The nurses at your nursing home will keep strict tabs on your BMs. They literally have a sheet they use to track such things. And if you don’t have a BM in three days, then you will automatically get “the bomb,” which is a dose of high potency milk of magnesia. Yum! If you don’t like that, you can always opt for the enema or digital stimulation.
14. You’ll Hate The New Generation’s Music
Your great-grandfather hated it when your grandfather listened to swing music. Your grandfather hated it when your father listened to The Doors. Your father hated it when you listened to Eminem. And you’ll hate it when your kids listen to whatever the hell is popular for their generation. But you will absolutely loathe the music your grandkids listen to. If you’re lucky, you will be so deaf that you won’t be able to hear any of it – or you’ll at least be able to turn off your hearing aid when the radio comes on.
However, if you are one of the unfortunate elderly people that maintains a reasonable level of hearing, you will complain incessantly that “the music these days doesn’t make any sense” or that “they took the music out of music” or some such cliché. The point is, you will feel isolated and alone because you’ll have made yourself into a curmudgeon.
And if you think the “music hour” at your nursing home will be of any consolation, you’re dead wrong. Odds are that they will play Ja Rule when you want to hear Fifty Cent, or play Iggy Azalea when you want to hear Ariana Grande. Even more likely is that the nursing home will forget what generation you’re from, and will play things a decade too early or a decade too late for your taste. You’d better start stocking up on iTunes right now, or you’ll be one grumpy old man.
13. People Will Talk To You Like You’re An Idiot
Once you get to a certain age, or at least look old, people innately start talking to you like you’re an idiot. Maybe it’s because they assume all senior citizens suffer from cognitive loss. Maybe it’s because they think you look cute as a bug’s ear with your bald head and hairy ears and want to treat you like the baby they never had. Or maybe it’s because they think that oldsters only care about stewed prunes and Matlock. Whatever the reason, you’ll have to endure people speaking to you in high pitched voices, asking you if you are “OK” for no reason at all, and explaining the most mundane things to you, like what the sun is.
And you can forget about having any independence at all. You’ll try to get up out of a chair and people will scream at you to sit down before you fall. You’ll try to pick up a glass and they’ll advise you to put it down before you spill it because it’s too heavy. And when you do something normal like turn on the TV, people will roll their eyes and silently tell themselves that even a blind squirrel can find a nut sometimes.
12. You Won’t Be Able To See
We know everybody will need glasses at some point, but what do you do after corrective lenses no longer work for you? Nada. You’re going to be stuck with poor vision, and that’ll be that. You won’t be able to read. You won’t even be able to watch TV. And your vision will degrade to the point where you won’t even be able to see what’s on your dinner plate, so you’ll have to eat with your hands like an animal. You won’t even know what you’re eating. Imagine taking a bite out of something in a bowl that’s put in front of you, and not knowing if it’s porridge or creamed ham or butterscotch pudding. It gives the term “taste tester” a whole new meaning.
11. You Won’t Be Able To Pee
When you were in college and couldn’t pee, you were simply concerned that you had the clap – which antibiotics could easily cure. But when you’re elderly, there are all sorts of things that can cause you to have trouble urinating. For men it’s usually an enlarged prostate, and for women it’s usually recurrent UTIs. But there’s also atrophy, stones and of course cancer. The point is, don’t be surprised when you get a catheter the size of Kansas shoved up your urethra. It hurts going in, and it’ll hurt coming out.
The most terrible part is actually just having the catheter in. It will invariably be yanked a little here and there, and when that happens, it’ll feel like someone is pulling your intestines out through your pee hole. If you are mobile, you will likely end up stumbling over the tubing when you are walking around. Hello, hip fracture! If you are in a wheelchair, you can bet that you’ll end up running over the tubing – or someone else will. Just hope that the nurses remember to put a “dignity bag” over the urine bag, or else everyone will see your discolored urine. Remember, yellow is good, brown is bad, and red means you can start digging a grave.
10. You’ll Be Bed Bound
Eventually you will reach the point in old age where you will be bed bound. This might sound like a dream come true for some of you. You might think, “Never having to get out of bed? Where do I sign up?!” The reality of the situation is rather grave – pun intended. If you’re lucky – and we mean lucky – you will get out of bed once a week when your linens need to be changed. You can also forget about getting a shower, because you’ll probably be too enfeebled for that so you will get sponge baths every time you mess yourself. No matter how warm the water is, you’ll be shivering in your nakedness, waiting for the torture to stop. And, you’ll probably be screaming your head off because by that time you will have dementia and possess no impulse control.
Finally, you will develop bed sores, known as “wounds.” These commonly crop up on one’s coccyx and heels. They can get so deep that your bone will be exposed, and when that happens they’ll never heal. You can get propped up by pillows all you want, but that won’t stop the pressure that naturally comes with lying in bed. Your skin integrity will eventually be so poor that when you move around you will get skin tears. Once this starts happening, you can count on having a daily “body audit” whereby nurses strip you of your clothing and check your skin from head to toe to measure and treat your cuts and bruises.
9. Your Best Friend Will Be Nutty
Ever hear the saying that politics makes strange bedfellows? The same can be said for being elderly. You will reach an age when most all of your friends are dead or demented. You won’t want to be lonely, seeing how your family will only see you on holidays, so you will attach yourself to anything with a pulse. This can be hard to do if you’re in a nursing home. Your BFF might be a stroke victim who can only say “Big money!” Or it might be someone with a head injury that touches you inappropriately. You could get lucky and find an old bitty who tells you the same stories over and over again about her war work or the time she survived the Johnstown flood.
You are also likely to have enemies. Just because people get older doesn’t mean that they don’t still act like they’re in high school. Your roommate who has Alzheimer’s will be a worse match than Felix and Oscar were on The Odd Couple. He will scowl at you, call you names, and if he’s the agitated sort he will definitely come swinging. Think of it as the elderly’s version of the fist bump. But don’t worry, he’ll have so much muscle wastage that he won’t be able to pack that hard of a punch.
8. You’ll Hate The Stench Of Youth
We’re all familiar with the term “old man smell.” It’s that indescribable odor grandpa has even though he uses the same toiletries he did when he was middle-aged. Young people are turned off by the scent of the elderly, much like how mainstream America isn’t attracted to the smell of people from other countries. Well, guess what! When you are old, you will hate the stench of youth!
Young people will smell downright pungent to you. You’ll wonder if they bathe in heady cologne or if they just don’t bathe at all. They’ll smell weird, like they are from some foreign land. And you’ll be able to smell them coming a mile away, just like a bloodhound can smell a fox. Much like a bloodhound, you’ll also want to hunt them down and destroy them. You’ll start to agree with Oscar Wilde that youth is wasted on the young.
7. You’ll Have To Go To Rehab
Once you are old, you will inevitably need to go to rehab. And we’re not talking about the cool rehab where you sit in a circle and whine about how society caused you to drink and to do drugs. We’re talking about physical therapy, aka PT, aka “Pain and Torture.” After you have a stroke or a fall or broken hip, you will have to rehabilitate. So you’ll sit in a stuffy “gym” with other like-minded individuals while some 25 year old with a Ph.D. has you lift two pound weights with your legs and shouts trite slogans at you.
6. You Will Pass Your Time In The Most Boring Ways
You probably haven’t realized that once you’re in your golden years, you won’t be able to do the activities you used to love doing as an adult. Your balance won’t be good enough for bowling. Drinking alcohol will interact with your medicine. You won’t even be able to go to the grocery store because your family won’t have time to drive you. So, you’ll have to find new hobbies. But there are only so many games of Bingo a person can play before they become certifiable. Thus, you will try to start up new interests. Unfortunately, there are only so many things you can do to pass the time when your capacities are limited and you live in a nursing home. Believe it or not, you will start collecting shoe horns, hoarding salt packets and keeping track of the visitors that come in and out of the nursing home like a night watchman. You will also become a purveyor of gossip, telling everyone which resident had a fall, what violations the health department found during its inspection, and which nurse got written up.
5. Your Family Will Desert You
For most senior citizens, their families are their whole lives. They reminisce, they talk to the doctor, and they bring in goodies. But you’ll be separated from your family for 99.9% of the time when you are living in a nursing home, and you will feel like they deserted you. Even if they come to visit every day, it’ll feel like ages for 24 hours to pass until their next visit, and then you will resent them for having lives that don’t revolve around yours. And this is if you are one of the lucky ones. You may very well wind up with a family that never visits you, or with one that spends all your money, or with one that threatens to put you in the crooked home they saw on 60 Minutes if you keep on refusing to take your medicine when the nurse comes.
4. You’ll Be Incontinent
We know, we know – there are a lot of items on this list that pertain to going to the bathroom. But the fact is that when you get old, all you basically do is breathe, eat, pee and poop. It’s just like being a newborn but not as cute. Now, you might be reading this and think that you don’t care if you are incontinent because you’ll just buck up and buy some Depends. If that’s the case, then we’re happy for you. But the fact is that most people who are incontinent have problems that Depends are no match for.
Picture this: you are in a nursing home and are lying in bed when the inevitable happens – you go to the bathroom in your “brief” (yes, the homes use a euphemism for diaper as if that makes it any less humiliating). Your fairy godmother is not going to come waltzing in with her magic wand, say “bibbity-bobbity-boop” and have you all cleaned up. It’ll be more like “bibbity-bobbity-poop!” You will ring your call bell for your nurse, then wait around for about 59 minutes for her to show up, only for her to tell you she’ll be right back to change you. Then you’ll wait 29 minutes to be changed. By this time, everything will start to congeal on your nether regions and irritate the rash you already have since you go through this day in and day out.
3. You Will Live In A Nursing Home
With people living longer and not better, you are guaranteed to wind up living in a nursing home. If you are an optimist, then you can consider if to be like dorm life for the elderly. If you are a pessimist, then you have already conjured up the sights, sounds and smells of institutional life. The reality is somewhere in between. Most people liken it to being in the service. You have to hurry up and wait, you have to follow rules that make no sense, and you have people screaming in your face, be it the staff, other residents, or your frustrated family.
The key is to have a sense of humor about it all. When you are served awful meals, you need to pretend that you are a contestant on Fear Factor. When medicine is crammed down your throat, you need to think of it as being part of one big research experiment. And when an old lady bullies you for taking too many napkins, you can fantasize about what it would be like if you had joined the Bloods or the Crips.
2. You Won’t Be Able To Eat
There comes a time in every person’s life when they are unable to eat anymore. Maybe your teeth fell out or your dentures got lost. Either way, you won’t be able to chew and can count on eating slop. It’s like having a buffet where all they are serving is tapioca, instant mashed potatoes and Jell-O. Are you thinking right now that you’ll be fine so long as you can have plenty to drink? Not so fast, smarty! The elderly have a little problem known as “dysphagia” which is a swallowing disorder. It can result from a stroke, Parkinson’s disease or just old age. What it means, though, is that you are likely to have liquids going down the wrong pipe which is a danger for pneumonia and choking. So you will likely see a swallowing therapist who will put you on “thickened liquids.” These come in juice boxes and are basically regular liquids thickened by corn starch. So you can drink water – it’ll just be as thick as honey. Refreshing!
And if you are a very bad boy, and don’t have a living will, your family will put a feeding tube in you when you are no longer able to safely take food or drink by mouth. So you get to stay alive in a living hell whereby you are never allowed to eat and your mouth is forever dry. We recommend making your wishes known beforehand to avoid being in this little predicament. Either that, or start relishing your Big Macs now because you won’t be able to eat them forever.
1. You Will Lose Your Marbles
It’s rare for people to make it into their 80s without suffering from some age-appropriate cognitive loss. You may forget complex news items or the name of your first pet. But that’s normal and you’ll probably joke about it. But once you go seriously downhill, you will forget where your room is, what you had for breakfast, and even your loved ones. If you are fortunate, you’ll be “pleasantly confused” and it won’t bother you one lick. You will actually enjoy having the same conversations over and over again. But there’s an exception to every rule. It’s highly likely that in your disoriented state that you will become agitated. You won’t know your own name, let alone know enough to understand that the nurse is your friend and is only trying to help you get dressed – you’ll be so confused that you will think she is trying to molest you. If your behaviors get really bad, and you start becoming combative, then your doctor will order you to be sent to a “memory unit.” This is a euphemism for a lockdown unit, which is basically prison for the elderly. You will live out the remainder of your life on a single hallway, asking everyone that comes by how you can “get out.”