Are you over 50?

If so, then you may know (or should know) that those of us over 50 are in the fastest-growing group going to the doctor’s!  We are not only heads or co-heads of households probably with children – and maybe if we’re a bit older – even grandchildren, but we are (and especially we woman) also taking care of our parents, whether near or far.  In short – we asked for the right to do it “all,” and now we find ourselves (perhaps to our own dismay?) doing it all!  This means spouses, kids, grandkids, probably a job or two just to stay afloat, and then, on top of all that, caring for elder loved ones.  Even if they are not all that “loved,” we are caring for them, whether it’s organizing helpful household services or coordinating daily care or even trucking across town every day or so to provide care ourselves.  This is driving us -already in or moving toward the “older adult” category to the doctor more than any other age group.  What’s taking us there?  Stress, of course!  Physical and mental.  We are the fastest-growing group at risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other age-related illnesses that tend to come on with stress and strain.  And I don’t know about you, but that kind of everyday stress and strain over the worries of making sure that people you love are well cared for does not lend itself to dieting or actually, to much moderation of any kind when it comes to self care (or self gratification).  When 5pm rolls around, it’s a treat to be able to say the workday is done (though truth be told, it’s never really done for the women I know, including myself), but at least to pretend that there are a few boundaries with a nice glass of wine and a good dinner… well, it just helps the day round out more nicely than rabbit food and a gallon of water!

Did you know that research shows that people who think about, who plan, and who actually prepare for their futures have a better future when that day comes?  Studies of older adults indicate that people who have been willing to admit that their future may (is likely to) move beyond those “fun in the sun” days that so many retirement planners sell us into a few years when some care is needed from others end up having healthier longevity.  The Baby Boomer cohort is going to be the longest-lived group ever!  Some of us will live a long time having denied the fact that our latest years – say into our 90’s and maybe 100’s – will probably not see us windsurfing.   In this group, we will find ourselves trying to figure out how to maintain a sense of dignity at the very last minute, maybe with fewer choices for it than we would wish.   Some of us will begin to think about this block of time in our latest years and want to make sure than when all that windsurfing comes to an end (if, of course), we will have in place some ideas and mechanisms for keeping our values and voices at the forefront of daily life. 

One way to plan for the future is, of course, with life insurance, helping not only you but those around you (see, for example, this website out of the UK:  http://www.aviva.co.uk/life/over-50-life-insurance/ .

But then, there is another way too.  That other way is to develop some kind of document that can speak for you if and/or when it’s hard for you to do it.  It’s hard for the really old-old to speak up and dominate their affairs, even when those around them are loving and well intentioned.  I don’t know about you, but I’m already more tired at 62 than I was at 52!  I can imagine that at 92 I really won’t want to struggle with other louder voices but that still, I will want my life to remain familiar to me.  And that’s why I started CustomElderCare (www.customeldercare.com).  Based on my own caregiving experience with my mother, who eventually needed round-the-clock care, I came to understand that if I didn’t find some way to make her values, needs, and preferences known to the wonderful caregivers who came to work with our family, she would virtually disappear into the woodwork despite that fact that the care was (supposed to be) all about her!  Ironic, no?  I came to realize with great force that she had the right to have her life look familiar to her until the bitter end and that despite all the caregiving experience the workers had, they had never had it with my mother… so how could they know her intimately enough to care for her in a way that kept her life as she knew and wanted it?

Think about it.  If you are lucky you will become old, then old-old.  Denying old age isn’t going to help anyone, least of all you.  Denying that we are, ultimately, never independent but always (more or less) inter-dependent isn’t going to help you plan or prepare for that day “when.”  You can do something for yourself, though.  You can create a caregiving service manual that someone you trust can hold on to until the day you need it.  Over the next years you can tweak it as you see fit, but you will give your family and everyone who loves you a real gift if you tell them now what you want life to look like later.  Take the guesswork out of it.

And if you are a caregiver for an elder loved one, you can give him or her that same gift.  You can create (maybe even with his/her help) a caregiving service manual that provides all the tips and guidelines that signify “quality of life” to those who care for your loved one.  The, you can share the care more confidently – maybe even go to a movie now and then – and when you say goodnight, leaving your loved one in the hands of someone else, you will know that the caregiver has all the information he or she needs to do the “just right” things.

Peace of Mind. 

Good Caregiver(r) Workbooks to download with all work materials create manuals at customeldercare.com.  Also available, Good Caregiver(r) Handbook, if you want to develop your own materials, and Good Caregiver(r) Toolkit, the  “2 in 1” tool (no pc needed) that begins as a workbook and ends as a caregiving manual!

Dominique Moyse Steinberg

Founder/CEO, CustomElderCare

 

Death Makes Life Possible

An important project for anyone who imagines – as Deepak Chopra says – dying some day… but especially important for Baby Boomers, mid-life caregivers, and older adults.  Learn more…

Story about elder-care family stress…

Did you read this story about scaregiver strain?   If you are approaching middle age or you see your parents dealing with grandparents or other elder loved ones, you are not alone!  Caregiver strain is enormous.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ElderCare/sibling-situation-caring-elderly-ailing-parents/story?id=11592489

At this story shows, children of elderly parents in need in dire need of caregiving support.  That’s precisely what we are attempting to do at customeldercare.com.

 

Searching for Boomer Humor!

Please help me to develop our Boomer Humor corner!  Post a comment in response to this post with an anecdote or joke (nice ones only!) on aging or caregiving of your own!  (or more than one if you have!!).   We will eventually give these anecdotes geater visibility, but for now… I need content!  Thanks

🙂 Dominique

Outwitting your Senior Self

by Dr. Florence Lieberman

Many people become impatient with the slowness and fumbling of older people and their ignorance of current technology…  But no group is more impatient than the Real Self of the older person.  (continue reading)

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Dr. Florence Lieberman (1918 – 2011) was a pioneer of clinical social work.  Professor emeritus at Hunter College School of Social Work, she wrote Social Work with Children, Before Addiction, and other books and established the Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal.
 
When the National Academies of Practice was formed to honor distinguished figures in health fields, she was elected the first president of its Social Work Academy.  (excerpted from The New York Times, May 14, 2011)

Baby boomers worry about finances, health costs

The Associated Press 2011-07-28: WASHINGTON (AP) — The “golden years” may lose some luster for many baby boomers worried about the financial pressures that come with age. Many of the nation’s 77 million boomers are worried about being able to pay their medical bills as they get older, a new poll finds. The concern is so deep that it outpaces worries about facing a major illness or disease, dying, or losing the ability to do favorite activities. Another major concern among the boomers: losing their financial independence. The struggling economy, a longer life expectancy, ever-increasing health care costs and challenges facing Social Security…  (Read complete article)

Real Life Among the Old Old

I recently turned 65, just ahead of the millions in the baby boom generation who will begin to cross teh same symbolically fraught threshold in the new year… (continue reading)


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