Going to the adult day care center

   "Your hands are so beautiful," the old woman took hold of my hand and said. I looked down at it, and back at hers. I had never looked at my hands that way, had never considered it to be something that feels good just to gaze at. The sight of my hands seemed to make the old woman reminisce about the past when her hands were not a dry heap of wrinkles. I suddenly felt guilty about how I took my unwrinkled hands, my youth, for granted.

   After a few visits to the adult daycare center, I heard from the staff that all of the elderly there had at least a little bit of dementia. Their behavior was indeed, slightly awkward; many of them had difficulty folding paper while doing origami, some tapped anxiously on the sofa every few seconds, and some were even unable to talk or made strange noises. The old men and women needed the help of the staff to move around or eat dinner. They were like a group of toddlers, from the fact that they were incapable of doing daily things on their own.

   Yet I figured out that looking at the elderly at the center only with the eyes of pity was such ignorant practice. Although they had to be helped to fulfill the most basic needs, their minds were still like that of an adult's – still under the obligation to be responsible for their actions, still wanting to criticize the government, read today's newspaper, and express opinions. No need to say they did not want to be pitied upon. One old woman grumbled, "What's the use of doing origami and coloring drawings? Oh, the government requires us old people to do these kinds of things? How fantastic." And she even criticized the current Moon administration for not doing its job so well.

By the way, I made this...

   What I now realize is that I have been only thinking about the elderly at daycare centers as a group of people who need special care. Before talking to them in person at the center, they were just some old men and women whom I felt vague sympathy for. Now I know that they are someone's loving mother or father, who's not any different from various people I encounter on the busy streets of Seoul. Dementia might make their thinking quite unclear. Nevertheless, it does not stop them from trying to stay as their unique selves. I respect them for that, and I will still continue to when I visit the center next time. (+Which is probably going to be during Seollal, the Lunar New Year's Day.)