Category Archives: aging

John Lennon Got it Right

John Lennon sang “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

I know another John. Last week, one of his lunch meetings was cancelled. Because he keeps his bicycle and helmet in the office, John is always ready for an exercise break. A leisurely ride and he’d be back in time for his 2 o’clock meeting. What he didn’t plan on was meeting Robert that day.

Not far away from John’s office, Robert had a doctor’s appointment. His wife was insisting on driving him. Irritated at how she and their children were ganging up on him about giving up the car keys, Robert, 85 years old, wouldn’t listen to them.

“Stop badgering me. I’m just going two miles,” he said, slamming the front door as he left. Climbing into his car, he backed out of the driveway.

Ten minutes later, along the tree-lined road that cast confusing shadows, John was killed when Robert’s car hit him. John’s cell phone was ringing. His daughter was reminding him that they had a date to go Christmas shopping that evening.

John’s family will spend the holidays grieving John’s death. There is no life insurance. John had not paid the premium on time. His wife, as busy with her company as he was with his, didn’t check if he’d paid it. Both their wills needed to be updated; neither could find the time to consult their attorney.

Robert’s family is in shock. Angry, frightened and remorseful, they’re consulting with their attorney about the legal actions they will face as a result of not being insistent enough with Robert.

We can’t see our own life unfolding. But our families will live with the consequences.

Are your insurance premiums paid?

Are you being too soft on someone who shouldn’t be driving anymore?

Or, as John Lennon sang, are you busy making other plans?

 

 

 

 

In Your 90s? Hand Over Your Keys

A driver in his mid-nineties was trying to parallel park on a busy street in Palo Alto during the height of the lunchtime hour this week. The driver hit the accelerator instead of the brake and slammed into a pedestrian and four people seated at tables outside of a restaurant. Two of them needed surgery, the others had cuts and bruises. The driver could just as easily have killed them all. The police are calling this a tragic accident and, pending further investigation, don’t plan to file criminal charges.

The DMV requires that the driver take an ’emergency retest’ to see if his license should be taken away. Really? If he passes his retest, will they let him out on the road again? He wasn’t drinking. He could have been doing drugs, perfectly legal drugs that impair his ability to respond quickly, to coordinate his eye, hand and foot movements, to judge distances and inhibit his responses.

Actually, what he was doing is criminal. He shouldn’t have been driving in the first place.  The people he injured may suffer permanent health problems or be disfigured. Our collective insurance rates will rise because his insurance company will have to reimburse the people he injured. If he had killed the five people he injured, their families would have suffered serious consequences.

The Department of Motor Vehicles should draw a line in the sand. No matter how well a 90- year-old sees or how many questions he answers correctly, he’s too old to drive. No matter how sharp his memory or what a good dancer he still is, behind the wheel of a car, he is a potential menace. If he hands in his keys voluntarily, let’s give him a medal. If not, let’s deny him a license.

Ninety is not the new 70. The body and brain that worked well two decades ago isn’t doing so well.   Don’t endanger the rest of us in the name of beating the aging game. If you’re in your 90s, hand in your keys. If your parents are in their 90s, for your sake and theirs, take the keys.It’s time to draw a line in the sand.

Great Grandma Did it Her Way

When Loretta moved from assisted living to nursing care at age 92, she knew the space around her bed would be smaller. She had to choose which framed photos to take with her.  She selected a group photo of her three children, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren taken a few years ago at her 90th birthday party.

On the wall in front of her bed, her family placed Loretta’s university diplomas, her law degrees and a certificate designating her qualification to argue cases at the Supreme Court. So much of Loretta’s identity related to those accomplishments. She had been in the vanguard of women who had a career and raised a family before the two generations that followed her considered it commonplace.

While Loretta lived in the assisted living area of the home, she could still move around, meet the other people , eat in the dining room and participate in social activities. Now, she had trouble swallowing and needed to be fed with a tube. She had never been a whiner. Her mind was sharp: she knew she had to do this if she wanted to stay alive. Her first great granddaughter was taking the bar exam; Loretta wanted to live to congratulate her. Loretta stared at the diplomas on the wall in front of her and savored her memories.

Loretta is leaving a legacy for her family which no amount of money could have provided. In life, and now moving towards death, she is doing it her way. Frank Sinatra would have loved her!

 

“Money” Conversation Not About Money

Psychiatrists have long equated the reluctance to write a will, prepare an advance directive or estate plan, with fear of dying.

Who wants to think about planning for death? We have to confront our mortality. No more illusions that it won’t happen to us. We have to face giving up our possessions and power. We have to deal with uncomfortable subjects like aging, illness, death, inheritance and a host of other things we’ve managed to avoid thinking about.

Having the ‘money conversation’ is rarely ‘just about money’. It’s also about family dynamics, mistakes, regrets, guilt, and a host of other issues. Children feel morbid, greedy and intrusive asking their parents questions about money and death. The parents don’t want to start conversations about ‘touchy’ subjects either. The result – people procrastinate, hoping for the best. Hope is not a strategy. It’s a procrastination tool and most often, it doesn’t work.

Click the buy the book button:

www.moneyloveandlegacy.com/

Check out the guide  for opening the conversations that matter between parents and children.Follow the check lists for what parents need to put in place so children aren’t burdened with a financial and legal mess after parents die.

It’s truly an act of love for parents to get their affairs in order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of the Ordinary

The poetry of life often lives in the daily rituals, the ordinary activities we often do mindlessly without appreciating how lucky we are to be doing them. Not me, not ever again.

One of my favorite ordinary things is making coffee in the morning. Grinding and inhaling the aroma of the beans, filling the coffee maker with water, emptying the ground beans into the filter, and pushing the brew button. How much more ordinary can you get?

Ever since my husband died suddenly in an accident years ago, I’ve been aware that ordinary events can turn extraordinary in a second. The Boston bombings, 9/11, a plane or car crash, a fatal heart attack, a drive by shooting or the diagnosis of a terminal illness. These sudden events, woven into the tapestry of daily life, are reminders that the ordinary is a gift.

One of my favorite poets celebrates the ordinary. Jane Kenyon, who died of leukemia at the  age of forty-seven, understood the importance of celebrating the dailiness of life.

Otherwise

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.