I noticed an interesting phenomenon when my kids were little: it seemed that parents were competitive about their children's development. It made for some uncomfortable times. To hear someone say, "My daughter is walking at ten months" when your son is still mastering it at thirteen months can be unnerving.
I finally took the approach of saying, "let's see how they're both walking at age twelve," or "let's compare how they recognize the letters of the alphabet at age 21."
I'm beginning to see the same thing with aging, as senior's blessed with perfect memory might smugly say, "Use it or lose it" as if their less fortunate friends with memory issues are just victims of their own lack of will power and sloth.
I just know that some of my colleagues will be participating in marathons well into their 80's. I'm all for physical and brain fitness, but since none of us gets out of this alive, there will come a time when each one of us could benefit from a helping hand.
I wonder about our fierce drive for independence when I read the stories (there have been at least two in Chicago recently) about the older adults that died and who were found living in apartments jammed with garbage.
What is going on here and what can we do about it?
Anyone who has experienced an aging loved one knows how difficult it is to raise questions about the ability to safely drive a car or prepare nutritious meals or remember to take medicines at the correct time and in the prescribed dosage.
And these issues are just the beginning of the difficult interventions you might encounter. So again, what can we do about it? The answer is to be brave and persistent and loving enough to impose yourself on your loved one, and in some cases force the issue by confronting them on these sensitive subjects. There are resources available online and many support groups have been formed to support care givers. Our generation is great at research and it is so much easier today with the web.
So roll up your sleeves, do some research, and "have the conversation." If we can all agree to set pride aside in matters of happiness and survival, we'll all be able to live our lives to the fullest as long as possible.
Bill Lowe, CMSS President (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chicago Senior Living
Assisted Living in Chicago