Archives for December 2016

Growing Old is Mandatory. Growing up is Seasonal.

Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional. — Walt Disney

imagesWalt Disney was literally Peter Pan. Growing old could be a state of mind if not for the state of our bodies. During these final weeks in December, there are some families who are able to come together to consider memories of roads travelle
d while creating new memories of journey yet to be discovered.

There are some whose ays are filled with eyes closed. Their minds taking them into a world of imagination. A world in which their bodies are controlled by their brain, their surroundings are directed by their desire, and their engagements are filled with those who love them and they love.   By keeping their eyes dimmed, the world of their dreams is able to lighten their heart and lift the spirit.

This is the time of year in which the reality of our world rings louder than do those dressed in Santa hats at street corners. Heath, body, and finances are magnified in the eyes of those who care for elders. Plans are expedited, empowerment is endangered, and decisions are hastened in the name of love, safety, and family.

As the new year’s resolutions are made and the realization last year’s resolutions were not reached, many realized their hope are fading and the potential for a new chapter in the book of life is less likely. Others look forward to this chapter with anticipation and hope. We simply sit back and come to the understanding the final chapter is elusive to the author and how the story will end is still unknown – even to the greatest of all authors.

We gather to watch balls drop, corks fly, lights illumine, and children gaze in wonder as spectrums of colors pass before their eyes wrapped around boxes of all shapes and sizes. We are told it is a time to look back and bask in out accomplishments; yet, amazed at how baffled we are how the easy tasks still aren’t accomplished.

You go over the river and through the woods, down the runway and through the jet way. Step through the clutter or around the nurse’s station. Past the childlike arts and crafts or across the faux wood floor.

To grandmother’s house we go.

Once there, what will you do? What will you say?   Will you be honest with your thoughts or imagine this is like it was fifty –years ago? Growing old is mandatory. Growing up?

Perhaps, growing up is seasonal.

Happy holidays and a healthy new year.

Talk To Your Parents About Aging Now. What Are You Waiting For?

My mother was ill for several weeks and hospitalized. The pulmonologist said she would require rehab before coming home. This meant a rehab facility. AKA nusing home.

We told mom. She looked directly at me and said “I wouldn’t do this to you.” There were no words to be said at that moment. All these years, my eyes still well up and a sinking feeling grows in the put of my stomach thinking about that moment.

The days and nights she spent in rehab were some of the worse either of us spent up to that moment in time. I had lived for years with the belief she would never leave home and the disbelief life would never change. In reality, aging is like any other stage of life; it is a series of changes concluding with death in the same way life begins with birth and then a series of changes occur.

I advocate with all clients to prepare and plan. Once a plan is in place, have not one, but two or three alternatives. Underlying the plans is simplicity and transparency.

This includes rightsizingpossessions, finances, passwords, clothing, and more. It also includes rightsizing plans.

January is the time it is customary to make New Year’s resolutions. This December when the family comes together, you have an opportunity to create your family resolution early. This year’s resolution is to plan and have a conversation about aging.

It applies to everyone in the family – not just grandpa or grandma. The college family members soon have to think about life after college. Single family members need to make decisions – remain single or consider a family so that everyone will stop asking! Family members who will retire in the next year are planning what to do with their time.

Elders need to plan as well. If not, others will make decisions when elders are unable to speak for themselves. Some plans and decisions are easier than others. For instance, at 90, is an inheritance as important as it was at 60? Do 70-year old children have the same needs as 30-year olds? Do elders need access to greater of healthcare providers? Is it important for adult children to know an elders wishes concerning hospice?

Other issues are emotionally difficult at this moment in time because they require the elder to make decisions requiring giving up independence, a sense of who they are, and perhaps accepting the realization of their own mortality. Is it time to downsize? Am I ready to move into a senior community? Is it not safe to live alone any longer? Is my health failing?

Thinking through these questions independently or with family members, developing a plan of action, and carrying out the plan is the best way to start the New Year. It is an act of empowerment for the elder and family.

Engaging a third party to help with this conversation can often encourage honest dialogue. Our transition team often will mediate conversations, assist with planning, or carry-out plans for rightsizing, moving, or transitioning to senior living.