Secrets of centenarians

After spending thirty minutes watching videos that focused on the secrets of centenarians, I decided, “Bosh! Centenarians don’t know more about what makes for LIVING than a kid of eighty – longer years do not insure greater wisdom.”  MY secret to a good great grand life is to be present, whatever is happening.  Which means you’re not, as too many do, dwelling on what was or fretting about what might be.  Don’t be one of those who, when someone comments on what lovely weather it is, intones “Rain is predicted for Friday.”  Enjoy the sun & be happy the plants will be watered on Friday!

It’s a small but mighty virtue called contentment.  And interestingly enough, it’s the topic of an article in today’s NY Times.

And here’s the gist of what those centenarians said is the secret to living to a ripe old age – – whatever your age, LIVE!

Related Links:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/02/well/live/the-secret-to-aging-well-contentment.html

When a best friend dies

When my mother died at 91, her three closest friends were still living.  Elsa, Gig & Ellen were as dear to me as my cousin, Peggy, another one of Mom’s bests.

After Mom was gone, so were their letters & phone calls, their connection to her life – – and, since my earliest memories, with my own.  One of my great regrets is not making the effort to keep those treasured relationships present in my life, more than sending a Christmas card.

Oh, I wrote to each to say how much she meant to Mom, to me & to our family.  Looking back, I see how easily I could have reached out in deeper, richer, more durable ways, sharing memories & asking for theirs.

I forgot that she was one of their besties, too.

Was reminded of those four unforgettable friends as I read the. NextAvenue.org article on losing a best friend.  As an unthinking younger, I didn’t fathom  how, when a best passes, the fabric of life is ripped apart, leaving a tear that can’t be repaired.

Mom & I often talked about Aunt Betty, her nearest & dearest across all time – speaking of her younger sister, asking for stories, helped keep her present in Mom’s life decades after “Bets” slipped from us.  Until this moment,  it never dawned on me that a precious opportunity to stay connected AND experience Mom from fresh perspectives slipped through my fingers.

We can never really prepare ourselves for the loss of our best friend, but we can be conscious that there will be an unfillable hole in our heart & life.  And we can be conscious of how we can be there for others if a loved one of ours who is a best of theirs dies.

Reading the article got me thinking about my sister, Mim, who died in July 2015 & how I can reach out to her bests – to Beth & Gray & Penny & Lark, to Mark & Peter, to Mike & Kerry, to ournieces & nephews for their cherished memories & heart impression of her spirit & life.

The article is a great read for any age & a much-appreciated reminder to be aware, to stay connected.  To know we can’t mend the tear, but perhaps we can help bind up the frayed edges.

Related Link:  https://www.nextavenue.org/when-your-best-friend-dies/

Good advice for 5 essential talks

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

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!

Related Links:  https://www.nextavenue.org/have-difficult-conversations-with-your-aging-parents ;  https://www.amazon.com/Estate-Planning-Sandwich-Generation-Parents-ebook/dp/B07DM9DWDY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533931499&sr=8-1&keywords=catherine+hodder ;  https://alzauthors.com/2018/08/07/meet-catherine-hodder-esq-author-of-estate-planning-for-the-sandwich-generation-how-to-help-your-parents-and-protect-your-kids/

Age, loss & JOY

Joy in the age of loss, an article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, went straight to my heart – there was a picture of an older man in a wheelchair having breakfast alone at  sitting, alone, at a table that sits six.  A breakfast setting well-known to John & myself, in Rydal Park’s café; until John his current Wednesday morning commitment, we were there regularly, enjoying breakfast with resident-friends.

I remember even further back, two years plus, when Anne, who lived at Rydal Park for years, & I would breakfast at a table in front of the pictured set up – – back then, there would have been at least one more table, making enough settings for eight or more friends to gather.  Every morning, there was the same group of friends, men & women, having a grand time carousing over eggs & pancakes, waffles or whatever.  The laughter, the high times, the great & grand spirits.  John & Ramie were the group’s Trivial Pursuit masters – – sometimes I’d butt in with an answer!

Over the past few years, first this person then that moved or had health issues that kept them from being part of the breakfast bunch, or died.  John & I know people who now sit – by themselves – in the same place they did back then.

Reading the lengthy & terrific article is a a goad to get back in the groove, to swing by – solo – on Wednesday morning’s for breakfast with dear friends I dearly miss.

And it’s a kick in the butt to get Cyber Access for the Technically Timid FINALLY up & running, because many elders let their social world contract,” too many shrink down when they could open up.  Unlikely?  Not to my mother, who marveled at 88 that – thanks to unimagined Internet connections – her circle of friends & friendly acquaintances was growing larger, not smaller.

My determination is not just for the olders’ sake – Mom’s online circle showed how youngers of all ages benefitted from connecting to her, learning first hand, real time, of her unabashed attitude toward & appetite for LIVE, her zest for living in spite of being considerably slowed down, her approach to dealing with life & family challenges, her value as a resource of “she was there” history & culture-rooting stories…  The reciprocal advantages between Mom & her devoted online followers, many of whom never met her but were among her most devoted friends, went on & on.

Perhaps what Mom showed more than told was the power of purpose, at any age, and the importance of flexibility, of living within THIS moment instead of bemoaning life is not as it was.

Whether twenty-something youngsters or readers inching well into their sixties, Mom’s honesty & humor blew preconceptions about aging out of the water, exemplifying what the article says about how it helps when olders believe life has meaning & purpose, whatever their age.  That life is fuller & infinitely richer through a well-cultivated spirit of gratitude, curiosity, continual personal growth.

Smiling, thinking of how much Mom would have LOVED today’s article by the always spot-on Stacey Burling.  Looking forward to printing out this treasure & sharing it with friends & family.  Even more, looking forward to heading to Rydal Park next week for Wednesday breakfast with David & Rob & John.

And, hopefully, Jerry, too!

 

 

RELATED LINKS:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/special_packages/493160931.html ;  http://mindwalker1910.blogspot.com/2010/05/velveteen-grammie-by-krl.html ; http://thegrannielistener.blogspot.com/2016/05/in-nutshell-cyber-access-for_19.html

 

Surgery after “a certain age”? Not so fast…

How ironic – the most common cancer operation for nursing home residents is one where the patients don’t fare all that well.   See, breast cancer surgery may be low risk for younger, healthier women, but for the typical nursing home resident “the surgical treatment for breast cancer may have been worse than the breast cancer itself,” per Dr. Rita Mukhtar.

About as MUST READ as you’re going to get if you or a family member or friend is elderly & dealing with a surgeon seeking to operate.

 

RELATED LINKS:  https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/article-abstract/2697211;   https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/14/health/breast-cancer-surgery-elderly.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth&action=click&contentCollection=health&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

Next Avenue’s “Top Influencers in Aging”

An eagerly awaited list is OUT!  NextAvenue.org’s “Top Influencers…” is worth your attention & time – – and check out all the related links!

 

Speaking of a RELATED LINK:  https://www.nextavenue.org/showcase/meet-our-2018-influencers-in-aging/