Friday, January 14, 2011

Confidential: Brian & Lynn, Read This

Some subjects are so sensitive and potentially painful that we tend to shy from discussing them.  For anyone approaching age 70 or beyond—or has a parent in that category—the subject of “senior freedom” can be about as welcome as finding a landmine in the rose bed.

Everyone seems to agree that higher decades of life bring changes and challenges. Not everyone is comfortable discussing the implications of decreasing physical abilities or increasing mental disabilities.

I remember that when my folks moved here years ago, they kept little “secrets” from us about their increasing challenges, secrets that we sometimes didn’t find out about for weeks or months.

“You dad fell down again in the yard today,” my mother once said at supper.

“Again?” I was shocked. “What happened?”

“Oh, it wasn’t anything,” my dad explained. “I know how to fall without getting hurt.” An excellent athlete in high-school years, he probably did “know how to fall” then—but in his 80s?

Questions abound. When is it time to surrender a senior’s prime symbol of freedom—the driver’s license? You may know someone 90 who is a sane and safe driver, but you may also know someone 73 who is a driver straight out of hell and a menace to himself or herself and everyone else on the road.

Are bills getting paid on time and prescription medicines taken on time? When is it time to get a little extra help for lawn and housework or even the daily routines of life?

What would you add to this list?

Everyone wants to be the “good guy,” not the “bad guy,” in such situations. So we sometimes think about such issues but stop short of having serious, two-way conversations about them.

The front page of the Washington Post yesterday featured a story about an older couple and their family’s grappling with such problems. The story is tragic. Could something like it happen to you—or one you love?

Ellen and I both have read the story. It’s sparked an interesting discussion about how we grapple with life in our 70s. We both thought I should post a link to the Post article.

A daughter of the couple in the Post story commented, “We didn’t realize it was time to do more. We didn’t realize it was time…. Oh, the second-guessing that is running through our minds.”

If you’re approaching 70 or are already beyond, read the story and ask your children to read it too. Take note, Brian and Lynn.

Better to think and talk now than to second-guess later.

To read the Post article, CLICK HERE.


  1. What a painful, sad story, Bob, and a wake up call for all who, a) are not being honest with themselves about a failure to cope with aging, and b) being secretive with children as they decline.
    My father-in-law had two wrecks in one afternoon, and then his keys were taken away. It took a fight to do that though.

    An incident with mentally declining folks happened when I was still working at a mega corporation located a mile off a major freeway. One moring a disoriented elderly couple was discovered in their car, sitting in our company parking lot. They'd driven from Memphis, TN to Birmingham, AL, took a right turn off the freeway, and another right,landing them in our parking lot. We fed them breakfast and called a son who lived in another state, a happy ending. The old folks' destination had been local to their own home, Memphis.

    Okay now, I am not so proud as to allow myself to decline and hide the facts. If my mental decline happens slowly, meaning I'm aware, instead of worrying my family senseless, I plan to check into an independent living community ASAP, and let family come visit me, instead of the other way around, and i'll be chauffered like a princess in their cars or van. A good plan.

  2. Thanks for posting your insights, Gladys. The way I see it, seniors with good mental faculties should be able to work through such problems. I see the biggest problems as those involving seniors who are experiencing the decline and don't know it. Oh, if they could have planned ahead as you have, so their children or guardians have a map to follow. Thanks again.