Elder Perspectives on Life and Love for Younger Generations

book-cover-305x450Those of us lucky enough to have aging parents who live long and remain nominally healthy are often struck by the wisdom we hear as they ruminate about relationships and love in the past. To really understand what they are getting at we must toss away any notions that our parents are merely clinging to the “good old days” and instead gaze through a prism that acknowledges their wise and long-term perspective.

Karl Pillemer, Ph.D. writes, “What elders have that young people don’t is something special: the view from the end. For them it’s no longer a mystery as to how everything will turn out — it’s already happened.”

Dr. Pillemer is the author of 30 Lessons for Loving. I wrote a short Valentine’s Day post, Elder’s Share Wisdom About Love, sharing a Next Avenue review of the book, and was intrigued. I bought the book and posted it here on this blog as my current read. Now I’ve read the book and have more to say.

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How Do YOU Feel About Getting Older?

Created with Festisite.

Created with Festisite.

Take a few minutes to read How I REALLY Feel About Getting Older, a Huffington Post article by Jane Gross, that reflects and reviews many of the most concrete problems that occur when people age.

Gross describes the frustration of living in a society that trivializes older adults while it also turns away from the wisdom of elders. At the same time, she observes, the media bombards older adults with messages urging people to overcome aging problems simply by purchasing one product or another. And then there are the media messages that reinforce the aging stereotypes held by those who have not yet started to worry about growing older…

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What’s Your Caregiving IQ? — Take the Quiz

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.27.55 PMCheck out the caregiving IQ quiz over at the NextAvenue website. It includes some questions about how we define caregiving, what we spend on caregiving, and the costs of long-term care. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable and I missed a couple of these.

After each question the quiz shares the answer and offers some detailed explanations. It’s well worth a few minutes of your time.

Those of us with aging parents know that there’s a lot to learn!

Oliver Sacks’ Perspective on the End of His Life

musicophilia-1-194x300The direction of every life can change in a moment. We learn this as we age and also as we support elder parents.

In his February 19, 2015, New York Times’ opinion piece, My Own Life, Dr. Oliver Sacks illustrates how fast things can change. If you missed his article, it’s a stirring description of what it’s like to feel good and robust at one moment and discover a metastasized cancer tumor at the next. There is nothing unique about this situation — it happens all the time. What is unusual is that a person takes the time to write about it and the ending of life with intimacy and clarity.

Dr. Sacks, a neurologist who has written many books about our brains and how they work — my personal  favorite is Musicicophilia — is in his eighties and a professor at New York University’s School of Medicine. The movie Awakenings, with Robin Williams portraying Dr. Sacks, was based on his book of the same name.  Continue reading

Writing a Parent’s Remembrance, Part I

Marti Weston:

Recently I’ve spoken with quite a few friends about writing remembrances when a parent passes away. So I am reblogging a post that I wrote about this significant memorial task — one that is simultaneously wonderful and difficult. The posts links to other pieces that relate to writing remembrances.

Originally posted on As Our Parents Age:

Other Posts Relating to Remembrances:   After a Parent’s Death: Writing a Remembrance, Part II,    After an Aging Parent’s Death: Obituaries and Remembrances,  Mother’s Memorial Service

When an elderly parent accumulates serious medical diagnoses, becomes weaker, and is sick more often than not, set aside time to review memories and talk about life. Engage in discussions, as a friend of ours suggested, while reflecting over photo albums, and consciously start conversations with “remember when” statements. Our friend’s advice was spot on, and my only suggestion to others is to begin these discussions as soon as possible.

We never addressed dying specifically because Mother did not want to go there, and there was no need. Instead, while she was still alert, though quite ill, we rambled through memories and recalled activities, favorite vacations, much-loved music, her granddaughter, favorite books, funny family stories, and so much more. Short but…

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Watching Ourselves Age With the Brown Sisters

Visit the Museum of Modern Art to learn more about the exhibit.

Visit the Museum of Modern Art to learn more about the exhibit.

Those of us with elder parents spend a lot of time thinking about age and change. As adult children, we observe the aging of our parents, but not infrequently we wonder aloud how they got so old. At the same time we don’t always notice how we, too, are growing older.

In October 2014 the New York Times Magazine published a feature by Susan Minot, Forty Portraits in Forty Years, that described the remarkable photographs of the Brown sisters. The photos, shot with the four women in the same order and with somewhat similar poses over 40 years, demonstrate with singular clarity how we grow older. Photographer Nicholas Nixon took the pictures, which were recently displayed at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.                       Continue reading