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/

Why am I plugging current events? Follow the money.

A second day with a current events posting – – not like me to be so topical on what is meant to be a “get away from politics & similar ick” blog.  But the topic has everything to do with all ages & all stages of Americans – our economy.

Because, love it or loathe it, the NY Times has a spot-on article about our nation’s “recovered” economy.  Recovered for those blessed with carefully nurtured, post-2008 stock portfolios;  those who rely on our savings or income from a pay check – – not so lucky.

The headline speaks volumes – – The Recovery Threw the Middle Class Under the Benz.  A truthful OUCH!

From the monied class’ point of view, the 2008 Meltdown served an interesting purpose – – unlike earlier financial crises, the recovery was not universal.  This time, those with their hands on the money reins rebounded, while those who did not did not.  The middle class was devastated by a calamity brought on by reckless practices at what were presumed to be trust-worthy financial institutions who went bonkers at the money gushing from largely unregulated derivatives, compounded by lax (to put it mildly) government oversight.

Today’s middle class not only lost nest eggs, carefully nurtured savings & home investments, it’s political power, once considerable, has been gutted by the one-two punch of the Meltdown & the SCOTUS Citizens United decision, which put the influence wielded by the monied class on steroids.

If our mothers were still alive, neither John nor I would have been that affected by the ’08 meltdown – like us, my m-i-l owned her home, free & clear;  like my mother, her finances weren’t tied to evaporated investments.  But millions of others were not so lucky.  People lost their savings, their jobs, their home value.  And, worst of all, Americans lost their trust in once trusted institutions.  Too many have turned inward, turned angry, turned around & try to find someone to blame.

The middle class was most certainly thrown under the Benz, but so too was our entire nation, which has lost its way as well as financial security & even a core sense of who we are.

 

John McCain shows how it’s done

accidentally delayed – should have posted earlier this week…

 

A dear friend spoke my own heart when she wrote – – “I, like many people, have very mixed feelings about John McCain, but do not deny that he knew how to put together his own funeral.  I also have mixed feelings about his daughter, but her eulogy was a beautiful tribute to her father and a great assist in his plans for said funeral.”

My thanks to her for this link to Charles Pierce’s “dispatch from the National Cathedral,” which includes these snippets from the very American moment:

MEGHAN MCCAINWe gather to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice, those that live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served. He was a great fire who burned bright. In the past few days, my family and I have heard from so many of those Americans who stood in the warmth and light of his fire and found it illuminated what’s best about them. We are grateful to them because they’re grateful to him. A few have resented that fire for the light it cast upon them for the truth it revealed about their character, but my father never cared what they thought and even that small number still have the opportunity as long as they draw breath to live up to the example of John McCain. ~ ~   The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.

GEORGE W. BUSHPerhaps above all John detested the abuse of power, could not abide bigots and swaggering. He spoke up for the little guy, forgotten people in forgotten places. One friend from naval academy days recalls John reacted to seeing an upperclassman verbally abuse a steward. Against all tradition, he told the jerk to pick on someone his own size. It was a familiar refrain during the six decades of service.

BARACK OBAMAJohn cared about the institutions of self-government, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, rule of law, separation of powers, even the arcane rules and procedures of the Senate. He knew that in a nation as big and boisterous and diverse as ours, those institutions, those rules, those norms are what bind us together. They give shape and order to our common life, even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree.

LINK:  https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a22893069/john-mccain-funeral-service/