Do not cast me away when I am old;
do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
Psalm 71:9


Shouldn’t all human beings living in the best way they can, be treated with a certain amount of respect—with a sense that they have worth?

In my various battles with mental illness I’ve run into occasions when I was left feeling disrespected—not considered as worthy as others. And how small that made me feel! It was as though I had never been good for anything and that I would never be good for anything again. All I ever was, forgotten.

I think often of elderly people, especially those who have reached the stage when they’re difficult to be around. The stage when they tell their stories repeatedly, as though no one has heard them before.

Annoyed, we tell them we’ve heard it a dozen times. Don’t they know? Don’t they understand we’re getting tired of hearing it over and over?

But those loved ones who are frustrated need to understand. Short-term memory loss makes it impossible for some aging individuals to remember what they just said, so they say it again and again. They’re not aware that others have already heard.

When stories are important, the pressure is there to tell it. Pressure to tell repeatedly the stories from a life of troubles…or, for some, a life of adventure. It’s in the re-telling that they look for a sense of meaning. It’s there that they find their legacy.

The sad thing is that many see such behavior as a lessening of a person’s worth. Frustration sometimes turns to disrespect. There’s a forgetting of the person who once was—a forgetting of the person who’s still within.

(Note: Repeating oneself does not necessarily mean a person has dementia.)