For most people rooted in Western culture, it is difficult to ask for and receive help from other people. However, the reality is that we will all need help due to the challenges posed by aging and/or illness. So, how are we to overcome our resistance to assistance? Well, our friend the goose has much to teach us about giving and receiving care. Look to the skies. As geese fly in formation, they embody the essential ingredients of collaborative care: shared leadership, interdependence, self care, encouragement, and trusted relationships. This is not a “fly by night” approach to care! If we choose to emulate the collaborative flight of geese, all involved in the caregiving journey will be well served.
Over the course of a lifetime,
we will experience the highs and lows of life. No doubt, the subsequent transitions between the peaks and valleys will be bumpy. It is during the stressful, difficult times that we realize the importance of resilience–the ability to “bounce back” from adversity. To meet the most daunting challenges of life, we gotta have bounce
Over the past few years, I worked with AARP Colorado to create a series of short videos focused on the challenging issues related to caregiving—AARP Care-FULL Conversations. Although I address many of the practical issues, I also speak to what it feels like to be a caregiver or care receiver. I hope you find the videos beneficial in a myriad of ways.
Human beings are inherently relational creatures. Among other things, we attach to people, things, ideas, titles, money, and dreams. Hence, we are consequently at risk of experiencing loss and grief as attachments change or end. Since we live in a grief illiterate society, few people are well informed about the process of grief and mourning. Thus, we are wise to learn about loss in order to move through loss and to live beyond it.
Due to increased life expectancies over the past century, we live in a multi-generational society. Generational diversity affords us the opportunity to learn from each other and to serve each other. We all have something to offer. And, we all have something to learn. It is this lovely, mutually beneficial, multi-generational exchange that enhances the ultimate meaning of the aging process.
Aging is a shared journey for all ages.
Viktor Frankl, a twentieth-century psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, believed strongly that humanity is driven by the will to meaning. We have a basic need to find and fulfill our meaning and purpose in life. The itch to understand intensifies as we age. We long to make sense of our experiences - particularly the times of suffering and heartache. However, meaning isn’t something we stumble upon happenstance. Rather, meaning is derived from what we contribute, what we experience, and how we choose to suffer. Discernment of meaning requires commitment, courage, and curiosity. So, roll up your sleeves and get to work! If you are willing to invest your heart and soul in the search for meaning, your life will be enriched beyond measure. Meaning-FULL...don’t settle for anything less!
A key factor in aging well is having a reliable social support system (family and friends). Due to the changing demographics in the United States, it is estimated that 20-30% of the population over the age of 65 live alone and will age alone. The consequences of aging alone are numerous and extensive: a lower quality of life, a shorter life expectancy, complications in the caregiving journey, and physical isolation leading to an enhanced sense of loneliness. So, how can we proactively reinforce and expand our social support systems to avoid the negative consequences of going solo?
As a society, we typically focus on the outward manifestations of aging—gray hair, wrinkles, and physical changes. Our desire to retain a youthful appearance fuels the multi-billion dollar anti-aging industry. I often wonder if we would be better served to focus on the intangible, internal manifestations of aging—the evolution of our understanding of life, the enhanced appreciation of the moment, and the acquisition of wisdom that we can then offer to the world. Care to wonder with me?
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, human beings long for love and belonging - to feel a part of a community (family, friends, society). Fundamentally, we are relational beings. This inherently human trait was recognized by one and all over the past year when we were required to disconnect due to COVID-19. At a moment when we needed each other the most, physical separation was necessary. Today, with reconnection imminent due to the vaccine, what will our reunion look like and feel like? Although we have been longing to come back together for over a year, many people are feeling a wee bit anxious about the reopening. So, let's chat about the angst related to our re-emergence. Once done, we'll remember the benefits of being part of a community such that we can look forward to coming together.
Cardinal Videos, recordings of programs created and offered by Jane W. Barton, is an educational resource. The information, opinions, stories, and perceptions shared are for informational, educational purposes only. The videos should not be construed as professional advice. Any services, organizations, books, blogs, podcasts and/or other educational resources noted in the videos are for educational purposes as well. Mention of those educational and/or community resources does not constitute endorsement of the noted resource.