Did You Know?

Bus riders account for more than 20 percent of people using Lake Shore Drive every day while taking up a fraction of the space that cars do.

You've got it wrong: It REALLY sucks to be old

 My wife's great aunt and uncle are tethered to health care providers by the A-Team of Elderly Afllictions: complications from a stroke, cancer survivorship, anxiety issues, and now a broken hip. Uncle C, who shook JFK's hand when graduating with the first class of Green Berets at Fort Bragg, went out to shovel his driveway and fell, fracturing his wrist. Pissed off, he stomped back into the house, looked for some other way to take the fight to the driveway, saw that the recycling needed to go to the garage, one handed it and walked back out the door, and fell again; counting Vietnam, he's now 0-2.

It's a small crack in his hip – you can't be luckier than Uncle C if you're older than 70 and break your hip. But he has to use a walker until it heals [try that with a broken wrist, by the way], and he's forbidden to drive.

Okay, you probably thought the ailments and injuries were the sucky part of old age. You're wrong again.

At South Suburban Advocate Hospital, Uncle C met his orthopedist who would be prescribing care and monitoring the hip's progress. Good man, the orthopedist, sincere and intelligent. But brace yourself, here comes suckiness: He says When you get out of here, we'll monitor you through my private practice. The offices are right over at 182nd and LaGrange Rd. in Tinley Park.

10 – The distance in miles away from Uncle C. and Aunt G.'s Midlothian home

0 – The number of Metra trains that connect Midlothian with 182nd and LaGrange Rd.

0 – The number of Pace routes that connect Midlothian with 182nd and LaGrange Rd.

0 – The number of people in Uncle C. and Aunt G's house currently allowed to drive

Bunches – The number of Southland doctors located along LaGrange Rd. in Tinley and Orland Park

I don't have a number – blogs are not labor intensive. But lots, including my wife's doctor, my wife's friends' doctors, my wife's friends' mothers' doctors…iterate as much as you want, all those doctors are out there. It's the Caduceus Corridor. And if you don't drive, it may as well be Timbuktu.

So: two people I know have got it tough for a little while, and I'm gnashing and moaning because Guess Who has a flexible schedule and gets to make a lot of trips to Orland Park over the next 6-8 weeks. You're right about that. But there's TONS OF OLD PEOPLE in the Southland. In fact, I bet the growth rate of the Aging Boomer category in the Southland matches the growth of health care providers along LaGrange Road step for step.

Now, Orland Park and Tinley Park, blessed with big roads, expressway access, and booming middle class populations to the west and south, are SO SMART from their perspective to concentrate health care providers and services along LaGrange; I would if I were in charge of these towns, and you would too. But the LaGrange corridor is moving care away from the towns whose populations are getting older – and every year they get less and less able to make the trip.

I imagine my elder years as being more active than earlier generations – I've watched my own conceptions of geting old, formed by watching my grand parents age, shatter in the last 15 years as The Elderly become The Physically Active demographic of America. So I think I'll be relatively healthy and mobile. I've got a life in Homewood that right now allows me to meet my needs 19 out of 20 times walking or by bike. I plan on living here the rest of my physically fit life.

It's going to SUCK UNBELIEVABLY BAD if I need to drive to receive care at a time in my life when I'm least fit to, when walking and biking will be just what the doctor orders, when my independence will be most dear. Uncle C. says I'll be looking for payback. If my daughter's smart, and I think she is, she'll plan my early demise before I go out to shovel the drive one too many times.