I know I am not getting any younger, and some days I just need to hit the brakes and look at the view.  When I need to re-center and ground myself in my values of life, I LOVE to visit my grandparents who are 100 and 96 years young.  They are the roots of our Czech heritage which has grounded us in the tradition of unwavering faith and fortitude amidst the struggles of our everyday lives.

Dr. Ericksen’s Grandparents

My great grandfather came on a boat to America with his family at the age of 10 years old.  My grandfather, his son, lived through horrific stories of World War II.  Still, with age, kindness and joy prevail where one would think a hardened heart would remain.

The process of aging and/or neurological conditions caused by aging can compromise an individual’s visual spatial awareness affecting posture and balance.  This is the struggle my grandparents now face.  My grandfather has lost his vision in one eye and sees spots of grey in the other eye.  He declares this to be “hell.”  

“Hell?”  Even after all the fear and struggle of World War II? To understand how this is possible, we need to understand that both of my grandparents had strokes that caused a visual shift and has left them prone to falls.  They didn’t report symptoms early and they didn’t want to give up the freedom of driving.  The take home point is that preparing and asking your eye care doctor questions early before visual changes occur helps people prepare through learning technology, automated aides, setting up resources such as HOMECARE, talking to family about transportation, and talking to family about housing changes that will be valuable if vision loss does occur.

As I left my last visit, my grandfather offered to sleep on the couch so I could sleep in the bed if I wanted to stay overnight.  My frail grandmother held my hand and prayed over me, “May God grant Carla a safe trip home and bless what she does.” Despite their fragile age and mounting struggles; they are blessing me and renewing my strength in humanity.  

“Thank you God for my grandparents and my opportunity to help people in their situation.”