Good advice for 5 essential talks

Waiting for my copy of Estate Planning for the Sandwich Generation, currently featured on

Am intrigued to see how the current “Sandwich Generation” tackles a challenge first faced by mine – – such conversations weren’t the norm in my parents’ generation because THEIR parents’  life expectancy didn’t extend far beyond  retirement age.

Many in my age cohort had to gird themselves up for conversations about finances, health & housing with older loved ones often raised in families who typically didn’t talk about such things.  How differently will such conversations go when WE are approached by our younger family members about the state of our current/future finances, our health & housing? About our end-of-life wishes?

Delighted to see the book included a chapter too often forgotten that is rich in meaning & multi-generation meaningfulness ~ ~ The Family Legacy Talk, how people want to be remembered, as well as what matters most to younger & future generations.  For all the talks Mom & I had over the years, this one never came up as a specific topic.  It would have made a difference to be focused on what did I want/need to know or have, what mattered to her to hand down.  Why didn’t I think to ask her to write out her Eggplant Casserole recipe?!

How will these essential conversations play out with olders who went through it with their parents?  Did that experience influence how they’re preparing for their “way up there” years?  Have they established open ways of talking with youngers  about once verboten topics like money, illness, dependency?  Did they learn from their earlier conversations & find ways to make it easier for their youngers?  Fingers crossed that they did.

This has me realizing, for the first time, that I’m now the bread part of the sandwich, not the filling!

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Grow old along with me – – a thank you

It is my belief that humans are created to be tribal, multiple generations together providing the strengths natural to their ages, from wee small babes to grey-haired elders & all the ages in between.

This posting started out as an invitation to join ME in my continuing quest for deeper richer wilder moments days months years.  Writing the title – literally, typing it in – got me thinking about two women:  my mother, Katharine Reynolds Lockhart, & my mother-in-law, Marie Nice Murphy.  John & I are forever in their debt – they gave us life & showed us how to live it well.  We had their examples & those of their compadres, the older friends & family who were part of the fabric of our lives.

Olders – if we are blessed, elders – have as much to give the youngers in their lives as they gain in return.  Even ones that drive us up a wall ~or~ we drive whackadoodle.

In our mother’s, John & I were given superb templates for inching upwards – they lived fully, both of them, to their last.  Yes, the two of us provided core support , but both of them allowed us to be their apprentices in living from an inner core that remained unshakable, unflappable.

Mom, Mom M – – just taking a moment to shoot off my annual thanks for giving us a preview of these “senior” years.  The light of your lives continue to shine on us.  Would more people as blessed as John & I, seeing a generation up.  Your example of aging well gave us the wondrous gift of “the best is yet to be.”

Would AMA cozy up to “alternative” care?

A recent article in the NY Times focused on The Netherlands’ unorthodox approach to dementia care.  Got me wondering – even if studies proved the untraditional care is effective, could a model that is primarily tactile & minimally pharmaeutical gain acceptance in America?  Presented with incontrovertible proof of the positive impact of complementary care, would the AMA bestow its seal of approval?

Call me a sceptic, but I doubt it.  In my experience, the American Medical Association has a history of favoring hospital-based & prescriptions over alternative medicine, which it has tended to cast as whifty.

Three cheers for The Netherlands’ innovative work with dementia patients!  May their creative approaches & willingness to try the new cross the Atlantic & inspire our own medical professionals!

NOT just for hospice!

It gripes my soul how many of the techniques that I used to keep Mom happy, healthy & humming along after a nasty health crisis at 85 finally derailed her health from 5 stars to 4 is typically relegated to being for hospice care.  Argh!

Massage was a big part of her later & last years.  How is it possible that so-called medical professionals found it in any way suspect, especially for hospice patients?!

I bungled my wording!

Oh, drat!  It just hit me that I’ve been using entirely the WRONG wording in making requests of myself & of the Universe!  And I realized it thanks to a doctor friend who, having read about my frustrations over not finding a durable vehicle for my peculiar elder support energies,  sent me list of positions she feels are suitable for my skills & experience.

Alas, how little she knows me.  My background does not leave me well-suited to be an activities director at either a continuous care retirement community nor at a senior center.  As for signing up with an agency like “Visiting Angels,” she doesn’t grasp that while my mother & John’s got up there in years – 91 & 87, respectively – neither ever was what would pass as “elderly.”  Until her last hospitalization, Mom only needed a slight assist – no serious mobility issues, no dietary problems, sound in mind & body, considering her age.  Ditto with John’s mother, who lived on her own until the day she died.   My friend sees us as massively effective in what we do, but doesn’t realize that we lived with aged parent who were elders without being elderly, that our only elder experience & sole strength is providing social enrichment that staves off or reducing the effects of dementia.

But my friend’s e-mail joggled the mega aha about using totally off-base language in asking what I want from myself & the Universe!  It now asks, “To release bodacious USE streams, flowing with purpose-surged energies.”

While money & durable income streams are important, serving essential yet undervalued uses has always taken the lead in my life v. settling for work that produces income without drawing on my strengths.  It will be awesome when the uses I ably serve connect with a commensurate income – it its time.  But I didn’t just memorize Consider the lilies…,” “Take no thought for the morrow…,” “For peace has in it confidence in the Lord…”;   I put my faith in them.

So, I will keep writing my blog posts & seeking ways to nurture connection & strengthen community ties & to deepen relationship, to forge stronger intergeneration bonds & improve intra-family communication, to say “Enough!” to alienation & collective numbing, to shake the Kool-Aid out of our ears & the lead out of our feet.  I will keep doing what I’ve done lo these many years – believing in every portion of my being that “Peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that our God leads all things to a good end.  When we are in faith of these things, we are in peace, for we fear no things, and no worries about the future disturbs us.”

The challenge of aging

I yelped with joy, reading Connie Goldman‘s sense of what we’re, each & everyone,  called to do  ~ ~ “The challenge of aging isn’t to stay young;  it’s not only to grow old, but to grow whole – to come into your own.

That is a great quote because it is as true when we are twenty as when we’re inching up to ninety.  ALL of our life is about being all thoroughly all that we are as possible, whatever our situation or circumstances.

What too often blocks our way is having our aging ever upward woven into a cultural fabric that seems to disengage from grasping the importance & power of true elderhood, that puts barriers in the way of continued growth – in the name of convenience.

Life was never meant to be convenient.  It’s SUPPOSED to be challenging & messy, enriching & inconvenient, expansive & exasperating.  From first breath to last.

Older people need advocates, people who help brush aside physical, emotional, even mental barriers.  Every step these essentials take, every action, helps them grow whole, helps them come more fully into their own.

The life they enrich, that they help give the space to grow whole, may be their own!



When the ambulance chaser IS the ambulance

originally published on


Eye-opening article in KAISER HEALTH NEWS on ambulance service billings, often in the thousands!

“Forty years ago, most ambulances were free for patients, provided by volunteers or town fire departments using taxpayer money, said Jay Fitch, president of Fitch & Associates, an emergency services consulting firm. Today, ambulances are increasingly run by private companies and venture capital firms.

‘”Ambulance providers now often charge by the mile and sometimes for each “service,” like providing oxygen. If the ambulance is staffed by paramedics rather than emergency medical technicians, that will result in a higher charge — even if the patient didn’t need paramedic-level services. Charges range widely from zero to thousands of dollars, depending on billing practices.

“While the federal government sets reimbursement rates for patients on Medicare, it does not regulate ambulance fees for patients with private insurance. In the absence of federal rules, those patients are left with a fragmented system in which the cost of a similar ambulance ride can vary widely from town to town.”

Be a savvy consumer of health care costs – read the article, discuss with friends & family!