Activity 17.1: Reflective practice

Close your eyes and imagine you are 80 years old. Consider a life where you live independently, attend a range of activities including Tai Chi classes, swimming, a book club and are a volunteer at the local hospital. Your life is full of friends and family; you are still driving and are busy nearly every day. You have a few aches and pains and take colds like everyone else. Otherwise, you feel not too bad most of the time.

Now eyes still closed there is a mirror in front of you. How do you look? How do you feel about yourself now? How could you describe yourself?

You may answer that you will look well, you will be groomed and dressed. You will be standing straight and moving reasonably well. You will feel generally well and younger that your years. You may well be proud of your independence and happy that you are contributing to society.

Now consider a life where you had developed some common conditions associated with older age, you have cataracts so cannot drive or read, you have developed osteoarthritis too and so moving around has to be done more slowly and you have had a number of chest infections this winter. You are reluctant to leave the house in bad weather and have now given up your swimming and tai chi classes. You have lost weight and are not really sleeping well. Yet you are still the same person and hope to get back to life as you lived it.

Now think about how you look and feel. What would it be like to be described as frail?

Would you now look in the mirror and see a person who has lost weight and whose clothes do not fit so well? Would you be a little more stooped and unsteady on your feet? Might you be afraid that you may need more help something you have dreaded? Then there is the fear of being moved out of your home if you cannot manage even with support.

What about family, they will fuss around you and you will not be able to do anything for yourself? What about friends who are active, will they stop visiting and asking you to join them in case you are ill or fall? Would that make you feel that you had less value to society?