How Aging Is Like a Science Fiction Movie

Is an old person in your life driving you absolutely crazy?

Regina Rodríguez-Martin
2 min readMar 25, 2022


Photo 160400908 © Alteraposto |

A few weeks ago I watched one of those movies/shows that’s about a human being who gradually realizes they’re not a human being, but an android or clone. This poor character has a brain loaded with memories of having a full life and a home he thought he’d return to one day, but none of it is real. At one point, he weeps, “I just want to go home,” but the home he wants doesn’t really exist. It’s heartbreaking.

Recently I had a discussion with someone who helps her aging parent with daily tasks because she can’t do everything herself anymore. This elderly person will sometimes be in her own home and still say “Please take me home.”

I was in the car of a friend one day and noticed the passenger seat was weird. I said, “Why doesn’t this seat have an armrest like yours does?” He said, “You say that every time.” It shocked me because I’d been in his car many times over the years, but I had no memory of ever saying that. What happened to my brain?

Sometimes it seems to me as if the changes in memory that often come with aging are like a science fiction movie where someone has messed with someone else’s brain.

  1. You remember things that those around you don’t remember.
  2. You don’t remember things they do.
  3. It feels as if your mind isn’t your own anymore and you can’t trust it.
  4. You long to get back to a reality that doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to return.

So to those of you who are still young or who still have minds that sync with the reality of everyone around you, please take it easy on the old people in your life. Maybe try to imagine that they’re experiencing the worst of a science fiction story in which they’re certain of the facts of their life, while everyone around them has suddenly changed those facts. They are in a permanent state of just beginning to wake up to a completely different existence from the one they’d been living. It’s startling and frightening, and some of us respond with repeated attempts to re-establish what we knew before. This might look like stubbornness or paralyzing fear or forgetfulness or plain old meanness.

Keep in mind that their science fiction story is not going to end with them re-entering the happy life they remember. The home/life they long for isn’t there anymore and they’re stuck with this new, uncomfortable existence. If you can, help make that transition process a little smoother, and keep in mind that it’s a transition process that might not end.



Regina Rodríguez-Martin

Mexican American. Chicagoan. Generation X. Relishes questions of human behavior. Nobody’s mother and nobody’s wife. Blog: