July - August 2013 My cat, My Father and Me
I was visiting with my father recently, and he asked me when I was going to slow down. I didn’t have an answer. It’s just too hard to envision with a busy job, busy family, volunteer work, home and garden. I really don’t know how to do that.
I know my dad is struggling with this issue too, because his 90+ year old body is telling him he has to slow down. But he, and many people I know, are having trouble getting comfortable with this reality of living into old age. My father gets satisfaction from creating things with his hands. We live in a culture that values independence and productivity. You are supposed to be busy doing something, supposed to make every effort to stay young and active. Yet with the benefit of improved healthcare, people are living decades past retiring from employment, then past the years of travel, volunteering or raising grandchildren. But bodies and minds can’t do as much as they did at 50. Do we have to maintain the pace? How do we slow down? How do we embrace these changes?
Where can we find good models for moving gracefully into old age? Certainly not in popular media! Many can’t look to their parents, who did not reach their 90s. Do we know people we can watch and say, “that’s how I want to do it” when the time comes to slow down? Can we find satisfaction in activities that are not as physically or cognitively challenging? Can our communities and families create these opportunities for our elders? Can we find ways to honor and memorialize our lifetime achievements and legacy rather than end life focusing on the regrets for what was not done? How have you made this transition?
I think that those of us who were raised in a Euro-centric, educated, middle class culture in the Mid-Atlantic region, are at a significant disadvantage. We have a lot to learn from other cultures where achieving elder statehood is revered, where it is acceptable to slow down and smell the roses, where elder wisdom and oral traditions are honored and passed down.
We also have something to learn from my cat. She seems perfectly comfortable increasing the hours she sleeps or cuddles in a lap. She moves to the sun when she’s cold and to the concrete basement floor when she’s hot. She’ll play for a few minutes if she feels up to it, and some days has no more ambition than to chase a fly that’s annoying. She doesn’t feel guilty or apologetic when she accomplishes nothing all day long.
A culture change is necessary as we prepare for the growth of the oldest segment of our population, those over 85, which is expected to double between now and 2030. There is a tremendous opportunity for those entering this demographic to become the models we need for old age. But they/you need our help and respect as they/you are once again our pioneers.
Maybe I can learn to spend more time with my parents just watching the sunset from the porch. Enjoy your summer everyone! Hope to see you at TED talks!
Susan W. Hoskins LCSW
July - August 2013 My cat, My Father and Me
June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities
May 2013 - Navigating a Changing HealthCare Landscape
April 2013 - Becoming Visible
March 2013 - Navigating Life’s Transitions
February 2013 - Partners in Caring Princeton
January 2013 - Men as Caregivers
December 2012 - The Safety Net
November 2012 - Going Solo
October 2012 - Documenting Your History
September 2012 - A Journey of Transformation
July - August 2012 - Gratitude & Moving
June 2012 - Diversity
May 2012- Aging in America
APRIL 2012 - TEN YEARS
March 2012 - Patient-centered Care
February 2012 - Can you Spare an Hour?
January 2012 - Challenges & Opportunities
December - Are you Prepared for Emergencies?
November - We need YOU!
October - Chocolate for Memory
September- Looking Back and Looking Forward
July - August 2011; Ageism
June 2011 - Accessibility
May 2011 - Paper retention
Knit Wits, April 2011
Lessons and Legacies, March 2011
Independent Living February 2011
Home Safety January 2011
Witness to my Life December 2010
Elections, benefits and open enrollment November 2010
Retire in 3D!
Am I Old?
Aging In America May 2010
Volunteering April 2010
Spirituality March 2010
Encore Careers January 2010
Hiring Home Care
Annual Giving by
Flu Pandemic 2009 October 2009
Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind
A Personal Perspective on Caregiving
Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity
Write your own obituary
Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look!
Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008
Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning
Finding Rhythm and Purpose
Spring Cleaning II June 2008
V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008
Spring Cleaning April 2008
Have You Had the Talk Yet?
Get Moving with FitRhythms™!
My Condolences January 2008
What Are Social Services? November 2007
Plan for the Future September 2007
The Up-side of Aging Summer 2007
Volunteering June 2007
Strategic Plan May 2007
National Conference on Aging: Let's ReThink Aging April 2007
Brain Health March 2007
Resiliency February 2007
Transportation January 2007
Season of Giving December 2006
Medicare Part D November 2006
April Hill McElroy October 2006
Civic Engagement September 2006
Change June 2006
White House Conference on Aging May 2006
Hearing Loss April 2006
GrandPals March 2006
Lets Talk February 2006
Eldertopia January 2006
Hoarding December 2005
Annual Report: November 2005
Are You Prepared? October 2005
Planning Ahead October 2005
Watch Your Language September 2005
Medicare Part D Summer 2005
Sue Tillett June 2005
The End of the Journey May 2005
Clutter March 2005
New Dietary Guidelines February 2005
Transitions January 2005
Funding December 2004
Caregiving November 2004
Civic Engagement with GrandPals October 2004
A New Look September 2004
Safe Driving Summer 2004
Food Safety June 2004
Communication June 2004
The Challenge of Giving Care May 2004
Seniors On The Move April 2004
Depression March 2004
McGreevey February 2004
Medications January 2004
Random Acts of Kindness December 2003
Civic Engagement November 2003
Reverse Mortgages Oct 2003
Emergency Preparedness, Jan 2003