My belief system about old age has contained one of the same truths since my Mom was placed in the locked Alzheimer’s unit six years ago. It feels as if you have to change on a dime more often than not in your last several decades. Either because your situation with health, money or living situation shifts, or those around you face changes you want to help support. Just when you think things are set for a bit, they suddenly are not, and the situation must face a reevaluation.
Research told my generation as we reached middle age, that strong skills in resilience would serve us well in surviving and thriving in life and that there are lots of ways to improve that skill. I agree, although it can be exhausting to be a resilient elder. Now I know, that not just the situation may need to be reevaluated, but your personal part of the whole picture too. YOU CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH. I write that to remind myself as much as the reader. While you are assisting others, your health, money or living situation may shift and there is not enough physical or emotional energy to deal with that effectively.
Making choices, from which new phone to buy, to what therapy to get for bone spurs have many of the same methods. Gather as much information from as many “experts” in the field, figure out what your priorities and value systems say to you and move ahead with out haste, but quickly enough so the whole situation has not shifted and your choices are more limited. There is that little quirk now that we have so many choices we can become overwhelmed–and that is not just us elders either.
If you have a large enough social circle and people you trust, you already know immediately whom to call or text or email or send up a flag for. If not, ask a medical professional or religious leader who knows your situation.
In my life, I have recently done all the due diligence and am leaving most of my teaching or volunteer projects behind for some serious hours learning to write a personal essay or letter to the editor that may impact an issue that interests me. Traveling to the last of the places on earth I hear calling to me is another decision, that requires more self-care in the short-term to get all of it done while my body can enjoy the trips too. As we know too well, don’t wait, do it now.
So, this will be my last blog for a time, with the hope that when I am traveling a new set of observations will need to be set down to share with anyone who wants or needs to read them. The discipline of a blog has helped me to learn focus and practice mindfulness and writing it may be a constant companion that will not go away. It may be the ultimate self-care for me.
May you encounter more joy than sadness, less suffering than expected and spread kindness and compassion all of your days.
November 4, 2017