The Old People: A Poem


Being Around People of Advanced Years

This poem came about when I started to find myself in the company of older people who are dependent on others for their well-being. My mother, who was in her 90s started to deteriorate physically and mentally from the beginning of the year, then passed away a couple of months ago in 2016.

I started this poem a while ago and it relates to the elderly who have reached a point where they can no longer get about like they used to, and what it must be like for them—in the past I might not have considered their condition that much. Having had to help with my mother's gradual deterioration has given me an appreciation of the difficulties that many elderly people face on a daily basis and how dependent they become on those who look after them.

There have been others too that I've known, who are frail and needed carers to help them as they spend their last years of life in an unfortunate state of deterioration. Some are still quite together and in fairly good shape, many aren't though.

The last part of the poem concludes with the finality of death; I haven't included anything about the hereafter because I wanted this to be about elderly people's life here on earth. We have different beliefs about what follows after physical death but I felt this didn't belong in this poem.

The Old People

They’re there, but it’s as if they’re not

hunched over with bent backs,

gnarled hands pressing hard on walking sticks

clutching clackety walkers

in wheelchairs being pushed along

they grace our world almost in quiet submission -

some still talk out, that’s true

and so they should

The old people

they’re part of the scenery

“nothing so unordinary” one might say

shuffling tedious slow to shops

do we ever consider

their plight

do we notice them that much?

The struggles that advanced years bring

ageing minds searching longingly for something

long past that can never be regained

memories of a time when life and limb were

free and strong

Age crept up and bones grew brittle

legs, bodies now old and worn

they need a caring hand to move them from here to there

someone to lift them - they can’t stand up

Sadly there’s many with minds

that are in steady decline

unable to remember

what’s just been said

the thread of conversation

lost in mid-sentence

they ponder

“who was that visitor?”

Heads bowed

daytime sleep

takes over

There comes a time when their minds

are almost depleted -

faces no longer have relevance

existence prevails

a veil has crept over their former selves

some still cheerful but they’re just not

the same

others looking out from crushed eyes

they depend on family, friends, carers

to bear their burden

to see to their needs

Deterioration comes quick or slow

some perhaps even oblivious

to their own suffering

they linger on in an alzheimic state

until the end

leading to a final resting

when at last they are free

peace has come

life so good and long

the last few years took their toll

the final bell has rung

all suffering now gone.

My Mom in her last few months

Source: the photo is the property of the author D.E. Lynch
Source: the photo is the property of the author D.E. Lynch

When I see frail people now I have respect for them and have even put my name down at an old age home; I'm nowhere near ready for that but the waiting list at these places is normally long and it can take years to get a place. I'd never have considered that before until seeing for myself the hardships that some very old people experience.

Do you or have you cared for someone frail?

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Comments 4 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia

A sad, but true and well written poem, Dave. Yes, I did care for my own mother when she was aging, and my wife and I are currently helping some elderly friends with things they can no longer do. We do need to all have respect for the elderly and what they have to endure.

Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 2 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

I think as we get older we relate to our elders much more. We are next. Good or bad life has many surprises for us. You have a thoughtful piece of poetry here. I'm glad you shared it.

DaveOnline profile image

DaveOnline 2 months ago from Port Elizabeth, South Africa Author

Thanks for your comment John, good to know that you have elderly friends that you and your wife help out. Keep well.

DaveOnline profile image

DaveOnline 2 months ago from Port Elizabeth, South Africa Author

Thanks for your comments Diana lee, I agree that age brings more respect for those who are older than us; as you say "We are next". I hope I can still walk when and if I make it to an advanced age, that remains to be seen.

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    DaveOnline profile image

    David Edward Lynch (DaveOnline)38 Followers
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    David has written poetry since he was sixteen, he wrote this poem after helping to look after his ailing mother in her old age.

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