What old people fear most is losing control of our own lives.
At any age, we want control of our own lives. But the possibility of losing control is greater in old age—financial control, health control, housing control, food control, car control, bladder control.
I especially learned about the need for control as a cancer patient, because loss of control is the first thing you feel when you are told you have cancer. Now those in control are the cancer cells within your body, and the people outside your body who are fighting those cells.
There are 3 Cs, plus an S, that each cancer patient needs in order to get well. The S is for Support. The 3 Cs are Challenge, Commitment, and Control. We have to accept the challenge of getting well, make the commitment to it, and then have support, and get as much control as possible, even when others have so much control of us.
If we are successful, we learn that control is more spiritual and emotional than it is physical.
Some people maintain control, or gain it, by giving it up. There is a long history of this as a good thing in religion. “Let go and let God.” But letting God have control is the ultimate in control. We are not relinquishing but gaining. That’s good.
There is a difference, though, between spiritual control and daily control. Even if we give God control of our lives, by relinquishing spiritual control, we still need to make decisions about health and finances and such, the rest of what we must do to earn our daily bread
Gradually, as we age, our daily control will be diminished. That is inevitable, unless we die suddenly. The trick is to accept the controls we must relinquish and to do our best with those that remain.
I think that we get control by accepting our limits but not being limited by them. As we work through our final years, control is more a matter of the spirit than it is of the body.
My book, NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them, is published by AndrewsMcMeel. It is available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc. in hardback, paperback, audio, Japanese, and Czech.