A friend was telling me about her mother-in-law who always complained of some bodily aches and pains. She told me she would be fine till her son arrived. Then she would moan and groan and say she was ill. This friend would give her hot foments and try to ease the travelling pain.
Of late she has a feeling her mother-in-law was faking it to gain attention of her son. She would refuse to go to a doctor and would say she is fine when her son insisted on taking her. This lady finally went to visit her doctor and has been prescribed some injections for her traveling pain in the chest.
My friend told me this lady is in her early fifties and does not have a spot of exercise. She would only cook, that too the preparation would be done by the younger lady. In fact my friend made sure her mother-in-law did not have much work to do. She wanted her to take rest.
Maybe the problem lies there. This older lady does not have work and nothing to occupy herself with. She was busy as long as the kids were young. She had to manage the house, cook, take care of the kids and other household chores. Now she has no work and her time hangs heavy.
She has to be encouraged to be engaged in something. Once her focus shifts, she will stop complaining of the aches and pains. Some of the pain could be real, some of it fantasy. This happens when the person is idle and seeks attention.
Maybe she is a little resentful of the son and daughter-in-law being busy. Her sons have grown up, they are all married and they have their own busy lives to lead. Their marriages, careers and other issues are keeping them busy. So maybe this mother is feeling a little neglected. She may be also feeling unwanted, since all are busy and have no time for her.
She is undergoing menopausal changes, so some of her somatic complaints are related to that. She must learn to accept these as inevitable, since as the body gets older, there are bound to be changes. Once these changes are accepted and internalized, then focus will shift.
I asked the daughter-in-law to find out her hobbies and her skills set. If she were to encourage her mother-in-law to do something with her skills, she will feel useful and occupied. She is young, and wasting her time just focusing on the body is leading to mental decline. The brain has to be kept active, otherwise it will start to decline. The neurons have to be kept firing, this will lead to newer ones being formed and keep the brain young.
Once a person has focus in life, then life will start to have a meaning. For that the individual has to keep shifting priorities as the situations change. This lady is now in her middle ages, she can contribute to society. She has to undertake grooming others, otherwise she will stagnate. She must also have a purpose, then she will be motivated to keep herself active.
She can impart her skills to others. This will keep her occupied and she will also learn to enhance her skills. Complacency will not set in and in fact she can be very busy, it is all her state of mind. According to one’s health, circumstances, she can devote her time for either learning something, or imparting her skills to the needy.
Many women in their middle ages drift into this type of lethargy. They do not accept that life has given them a second chance to grow as a person. Most of them had no time to focus on themselves due to the pressures of raising a family and working on the marriage. Later on, there is time to shift focus. The men normally retire from office life and find time stagnating. Time is not stagnating, they are.
Actually the couple can use this time to re-bond, travel, pick up some joint activity, or hobby and feel free to explore each other’s minds and the world. Of course if they had taken care of their health through periodic medical checkups and exercise, then they can still be physically fit in their middle ages and can indulge in a lot of activities.
People can look forward to this phase in life positively and adapt to it. It is a matter of shift in thinking and attitude. As long as you are alive, you have to live. You can choose to life happily or with grouse, complaints, inactivity, and/or lethargy.