Wise friends can be of great value in our elder years

Wise friends can be of great value in our elder years

I’ve trained my mom to be a case manager for seniors. Well, not really, but linking our daily conversations along with her 85 years of life experience, my mom can give some pretty good advice when asked.

Mom has known her close friend Bernadette since high school. They both married their hometown sweethearts, and the two couples moved and bought houses less than a block from one another.

They raised their children together, and when the kids began school, my mother and Bernadette found jobs at the same school district. They worked there for many years until their retirement.

The similarities did not stop there. Bernadette’s husband received a Parkinson’s diagnosis in his early 70s. My dad was diagnosed just a few years later. It was a blow to all of us that two men who became such close friends would be diagnosed with the same serious disease within such a short time span.

Divorce prevalent among boomers

Divorce prevalent among boomers

Today’s baby boomers range from 55 to 73 years old.

Studies show that “gray divorce”—marital splits among senior and nearly senior citizens— is increasingly common.

According to a Pew Research Center report, the divorce rate for people in the United States age 50 and older is now about double what it was in the 1990s. And, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, the divorce rate for those 65 and older tripled from 1990 to 2015.

Experts say the trend makes sense and there are several reasons why divorce has become more popular at an older age.

Let’s begin with the fact that the stigma of divorce has lessened over time.

Artwork may hold the key to effective problem-solving

Artwork may hold the key to effective problem-solving

Many years ago I took courses at the Center for Creative Leadership, a world-renowned leadership-development firm.

I worked for Dole at the time, and I guess they had high hopes for my changing the world, or at least improving my portion of the organization.

One of the courses I took was called “Leading Creatively.” I recall it vividly, mostly because of the unique lessons it provided on problem-solving.

Each of us was to come to the course with one or two key business issues that were giving us difficulty. The instructors would use a variety of creative exercises to help us find solutions.

Winning the battle with robocallers

Winning the battle with robocallers

I just received my fifth email this month on the same topic.

In the email, my friend informed me he’s canceled his landline service and has chosen to use only his cellphone for voice communication because of the abundance of robocalls and scams he was receiving.

Unfortunately, this will not solve his robocall problem.

A robocall is a phone call with prerecorded messages. All robocalls are illegal, unless you have agreed to be called.

The reason we receive so many of these calls is that technology has made it easy and cheap for robocallers, and there’s money to be made by scammers.

Robocalls are the No. 1 consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. According to the FTC, the agency received 4.5 million robocall complaints in 2017, an increase of 132% over 2016.

Giving time becomes its own gift

Giving time becomes its own gift

I volunteered to work at the recent Thousand Oaks Chili Cook-Off for a friend who was going out of town and didn’t want to leave the Rotary Club that puts on the event short-handed.

It was to be an all-day assignment, so I asked my husband if he’d like to join me. I have no idea why he said yes. Maybe it was because I was assigned to work the beer booth.

Upon arrival we met our team leader, Jim, and the other members of our group—one assigned to check IDs, one to place a bracelet on patrons’ wrists to signify they were of age, two to sell drink tickets, two to pour and two to serve the beer, wine and water. We helped with the latter.

We began at 10:30 a.m., and only at 2:30 p.m. could we finally take a breath. The line stayed about 20 deep the entire day. It was 5 p.m. by the time we broke down the booth, packed up and hugged our goodbyes.

Long-distance caregivers have a role to play

Long-distance caregivers have a role to play

If you live an hour or more away from a loved one who needs your care, you’re a long-distance caregiver.

Based upon the needs of the care receiver, as well as the skills, abilities and limitations of the caregiver, every long-distance caregiving experience is different.

I’ve been a long-distance caregiver on two occasions, each with its own set of responsibilities.

In the first instance, my mother and sister were the hands-on caregivers for my father, and since I was 3,000 miles away, I took on the role of long-distance caregiver.

Preparing for the ultimate loss: What to do when a loved one dies

Preparing for the ultimate loss: What to do when a loved one dies

I have a dear friend, Nancy, whose husband died unexpectedly several years ago. She was recounting the situation to me and how another friend of hers, a physician, wanted to give her some medication to calm her during the experience.

Nancy’s response: “I have too much to do. I can’t be out of it.”

We laughed about her get-it done nature. Still, whether it’s a sudden loss or the result of a long illness, the death of a spouse can be emotionally devastating but at the same time there’s a lot to do.

I often think the “business of death” is society’s way of keeping our mind busy during those early crushing days of loss.

Here are the time-sensitive things to consider upon a loved one’s death:

What are we teaching our children about aging?

What are we teaching our children about aging?

Aging is something we learn from family, our community and our culture.

Sam, I’ll call him, is what can only be described as an 87-year-old curmudgeon. As a widower suffering from congestive heart failure, mostly homebound due to his fatigue and need for oxygen, he is bitter about his lot in life.

Sam’s son and daughter bear his wrath as he rails about the unfairness of getting older and how his life is not worth living. His children focus their energies on managing his illness. Any efforts on their part to add value to Sam’s life via grandchild visits or trips out to eat are met with indifference.

Sam may not know it, but he is teaching his family (children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren), as well as his remaining friends and neighbors, what aging is like.

Attention to detail gets more important as we age

Attention to detail gets more important as we age

My husband is a finance guy, a CPA with a master’s in taxation. He is, by all accounts, a meticulous, detail-oriented individual.

It’s nice to have one of those in a family. At least one of us should be reading the dishwasher manual when it malfunctions, checking a contract’s fine print before signing and making sure the stove is turned off before leaving the house.

Most recently, my husband won kudos from my mother when he found an error in the Required Minimum Distribution from her 401(k) while calculating her taxes. My mother’s investment advisor, who should have caught the error, was embarrassed and apologized.

Sometimes paying attention to detail can reap financial rewards. 

Honoring our caregivers can take many forms

Honoring our caregivers can take many forms

Recently my mother returned home to New Hampshire after two wonderful weeks visiting me and my husband here in California. I had lots of goals for the visit, and we accomplished many of them.

Two remarkable things happened that I did not plan for.

Because we finally had some quality time together, my mother opened up about some of the high and low points on her journey caregiving for my father. When times were physically and emotionally the hardest for her, she told me, she would will herself to get through just one more day, especially in the last few years of my father’s life.

Parkinson’s disease was a battle they both were fighting.

She recounted the last time she and my father made the trip from New Hampshire to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for two months over the winter. They took a commuter plane back home, and on this particular day, my father’s “freezing” from Parkinson’s was so bad, he could not get himself out of the seat when the plane landed.

 

 

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