Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy


The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More


Military and Veterans Discount



AARP Games - Play Now!


Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.


Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.



Heart Disease


Most Popular


Chronic Disease: Losing Self-Esteem

Chronic illness can erode self-confidence, so it helps to focus on the positive

When my wife, Meredith, and I dropped our daughter Lily at JFK International Airport for a post–high school graduation trip through Europe with buddies, Lily and I entered the terminal while Meredith parked the car.

See also: 7 pain-fighting foods.

Richard Cohen

Richard M. Cohen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis more than 30 years ago. — Courtesy Richard M. Cohen

"You wait right here while I get my ticket," she instructed firmly as she dashed off to do battle with a ticketing machine. "Yes, ma’am," I thought to myself. I had the uneasy feeling that I was with a sitter, and she was instructing me to behave myself. My daughter is 18, and I had the horrifying sense that generational role reversal already had set in.

This was not the first time I felt that my physical limitations undercut my image of myself as a strong parent. Self-esteem suffers when a father figure sees himself as less than he once was, unable to assume his parental duty. Humiliation comes quickly. I have written before about the pain of feeling like a child. This is nobody’s fault, only a predictable consequence of dealing with a progressive disease that increasingly diminishes a person.

Our flight home from San Francisco only days earlier made the same painful point. We were out there attending son Ben’s graduation from Stanford. The plane would board in less than an hour. Meredith and I sat at a wine bar, discussing how glorious the event had been and the special horror of flying home on the red-eye, leaving at 11 p.m. and landing at JFK just after dawn. I left my wife at the wine bar and hobbled across the concourse to a restroom. “I’ll meet you at the gate,” I told her.

After exiting the restroom, I began to make my way back to Meredith and the kids, looking for landmarks I had noticed on my way there. My legal blindness is as much a problem in these situations as my limited ability to just to walk. I eyed a fork in the concourse ahead that had escaped notice coming from the other direction; I now had to guess which road to take. 

Next: Keep the focus on what you've accomplished >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members save 15% on easy listening devices and more at the HearUSA Hearing Shop.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points