The Toronto Globe and Mail has a recent article on very young children wearing glasses. I started wearing glasses when I was five. My kindergarten picture shows me as the only child who did, but I don’t remember ever thinking about being the exception . Now that diagnostic procedures are more sophisticated, vision problems can be diagnosed for children as young as twelve months and correcting vision problems early will be a good and normal thing.
Cataract surgery is also so frequent these days as to become the norm. I resisted this for some years but when I was threatened that a driving license could be lifted, I smartened up and couldn’t believe the improvement. Why did I delay so long? So when I noticed that other people in meetings seemed to be speaking very softly or mumbling – or when watching TV at other people’s houses always meant that the volume seemed low, I did get brave enough to ask for a referral for a hearing test. My GP is very direct. “If you were told you need a hearing aid, would you wear one?”, he asked. There was a considerable pause before I muttered, “Probably”. “Otherwise”, he threatened, “You’re wasting everybody’s time”.
I took away the referral away, thinking that I would get arround to making an appointment sooner or later, but the GP knew me too well. The next thing I knew he had booked me into a medical clinic to check things out. My suspicions are right. I have hearing loss and need to do something about it. My father resisted it even though an audiologist commented, “I notice you wear glasses”. My grandmother resisted the suggestion at age 90, responding, “I’ll think about it, but if it means giving up my earrings, forget it.”.
Our attitudes toward the natural process of aging ebb and flow. Shortly after the recent test, I arrived late for a meeting to hear those present winding up a conversation on euthanasia. What they recognize is that aging brings a host of new problems caused both by the prolonging of life and the fear of death. While they would have strongly prohibited any notion of assisting the process in the past, they now spoke from the personal perspective of seeing untold suffering. That has called into question what they think. It’s going to be one of the discussions that becomes more prominent as we go forward. But before I have to face that question – or others have to on my behalf – I had better rejoice in the kind of options that allow me to see and hear in ways that generations before me would never had had the change to encounter.