Each year, during the two-month holiday season, I see an article or two urging adult children to use the holiday visits as an opportunity to spy — discretely, of course — during family gatherings. The goal is to discover how well parents are doing.
When it comes to the instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) and the activities of daily living (ADLs), the trick is to observe how well these tasks are accomplished and share those observations with a parent. I know that writers are using the word spy in a puckish manner — trying to add a bit of levity to a serious and potentially stressful family situation, but I’d still like to lose the word.
As we go about helping our parents find ways to maintain independence while aging gracefully, we need to be honest and direct — as much as possible. Sure, it’s difficult to speak about extra support and less independence when a parent who has lead a successful and fulfilling life feels a great sense of loss.
However, the concept of spying, no matter how discrete, just complicates the communication.
After the jury announced its verdict in New Jersey I watched Associated Press video statement read by Tyler Clementi’s father. Sad and clearly with a heavy heart, he nevertheless looked to the future in a way that most of us could not have done had we lost a child the way he lost Tyler. Then I glanced down at the YouTube comments — just about every one included a gay slur or offensive language, and I was disgusted. The comments were not relevant.
Racist and hateful online comments demean writers, video-makers, and people who thoughtfully share digital content. It’s becoming tiresome. Masquerading as run-of-the-mill responses at the end of articles and videos – they are actually cyber-bullies’ remarks left here and there with the goal of offending and hurting others. The time has long past for comment and blog editors everywhere – but especially at Google’s YouTube — to set up and enforce guidelines.
I know that the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of speech; however, it’s not freedom of speech we are observing but freedom to run off at the mouth and bully others in ways that are not relevant to the content. As a result we are teaching all sorts of silent lessons — the kind we don’t really intend to teach to young people as they grow up.
If you missed the Michel Martin’s Tell Me More on Monday, January 23, 2012, head over to the program’s website to hear Jane Gross talk about her book, A Bittersweet Season: Caring For Our Aging Parents and Ourselves. Her conversation covered a broad range of aging parent-adult child topics including Medicare, financial problems, end-of life issues, unexpected aging parent needs, and the need for caregivers to take better care of themselves.
Most Interesting Quote:
… I thought as a reporter I was capable of finding out everything I needed to know. I didn’t realize that the systems were so complicated, that they were coupled with the sort of emotional baggage of it being your mother and your brother, that you couldn’t just pick up the phone the way you did when you were a reporter and get an answer.
It seems to be in vogue to be rude.
From media and shouting television personalities, to drivers, to people’s online behavior, to members of the House of Representatives, rudeness seems to be a part of our daily life. Some people seem to be proud of it. Trouble is, the behavior is mean, nasty, and downright disrespectful. Not something to be proud of…
I’m grateful, during these days of behavior confusion, that years ago my mom insisted that I understand that it’s NOT all right to act this way. It’s OK to be assertive and sure of your point of view, and it’s even OK to ardently disagree (and even irritated), but it’s not OK to be mean and rude. Now age 84, my mom continues to follow these rules.
Four Lessons Mom Insisted that I Learn
Words matter, especially words that describe people who are aging. In every day conversation, disrespectful phrases such as “old people” or “old folks,” are commonly used. My parents and many of their friends detest these comments.
This week I listened to a podcast of a panel discussion, produced by a well-known media outlet, and buried in the interesting content were comments such as “too old” and “not all there.” So many of these words emphasize the gap between older and younger people. The problem is ageism, plain and simple.
Growing old is a normal part of life, and while it can be hard work, most people manage it quite well with intellects intact.
Yet keeping a sense of self, not to mention pride, is a daily challenge so rigorous that perhaps it should even be added to the activities of daily living (ADL’s). Older seniors navigate a minefield of unintentional (my dad calls them tacky) comments and references designed to trivialize. The International Longevity Center, founded by the late Dr.Robert N. Butler (NY times Obituary), posts this short article, Old Age has Value in Today’s Youth-Oriented Society by Ithaca College Gerontology Professor John A. Krout. Dr Krout also heads the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute.
Some communities are trying to address the problem. Read more »
Check out today’s post, No Need for Death Threats! over at Changing Aging, Dr. Bill Thomas’ blog. He snapped this picture of this magazine cover at the airport in Philadelphia. I am beginning to believe that the next 30 years will be generationally tough, not only for our parents but also for us, the adult children who are following right behind.
I am going to Philly for a conference next month. I won’t buy the magazine this time. The blame for this type of thing can be placed squarely on the shoulders people who opine about budgets, intentionally creating generational rifts, to get political attention, but the same people do nothing to really solve our problems. Already twenty and thirty somethings indicate in a variety of ways that boomers are the problem — precisely the type of rifts that make people think this magazine cover is appropriate.
Head on over to read the post. B.T.W. I shared this on Facebook and retweeted on Twitter.
The University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging has a superb website, filled with information and resources on aging and supplemented with links that can help people solve problems and better understand medical conditions. The site is easy for seniors, families, and caregivers to navigate. Many of the resources are Pennsylvania specific, however others, like the links to descriptions of diseases and medical conditions, can be used by everyone.
The website’s best section is on aging myths and emerging realities. I wish I could fit all of these explanations on wallet-sized cards, keep them in my purse, and hand them out each time I hear a person use inaccurate information. Ageism is a terrible problem.
Banish the myths!