Caregiver for older parents

Anonymous, Age 70

Well, here I am. I retired on July 1 almost 3 years ago and became very involved with my 93-year-old dad and my 90-year-old mom. She became very sick and was hospitalized 2 1/2 weeks into my “retirement” for the better part of 7 weeks, and my dad went into memory care in September. I subsequently moved in with my mom at her request in September when she was discharged. She was still quite ill. Then my Dad died in January. They knew each other for 75 years and were married for 70 of them. So, I retired from social work and became a full time care giver.

I’m sure there are others in similar circumstances so I’m not the only one. My brother and one sister are retired. Both married. I’m divorced for 20 years after 32 years married. Two sisters work full time still. I am not in a position to think about what I want for the next 10 years.

I don’t have a problem being 70. I just wait to see what happens tomorrow.

Posted in 70candles, Aging, Caretaking, Dealing with loss, Death and dying, Family matters | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do you feel orphaned?

Anonymous, Age 71

Great site…..
I always wonder if others feel like orphans when our parents pass no matter what our age?

Posted in 70candles, Aging, Death and dying, Family matters, Older women connecting | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A 70Candles! Gathering: a place to feel supported, embraced and KNOWN

Dear 70Candles! Friends,

Just wanted to let you know that we had our third 70Candles Meeting this past Sunday here in New Jersey and it was wonderful once again!

Twelve lovely ladies were here to share a lovely, meaningful, social, emotional and spiritual afternoon. It seems this gathering has a way of touching all the many parts of us…We gather at first socially ing the kitchen- sharing good conversation while munching on cheese and crackers, sweets, fruit salad, dips and chips, coffee, tea etc. Then, we move into the living room and begin our meeting. Here we seem to touch the emotional, psychological and yes, at times spiritual parts of ourselves. After listening to a meaningful song for some centering thoughts, and sharing a poem or two, we begin to enter the wonderful flow of conversation and sharings. This month, we had decided to share “Challenges”- either one we are currently having or one that we had in the past, how we lived it, what we learned from it etc.

Since there were 12 of us and we knew we probably couldn’t get to everyone in one meeting, we decided that whoever wanted to share a challenge would put their name in a basket. We would then draw a name and that person would then share.

Three of our women shared amazing stories and as they did so, others who have or had had the same also shared and contributed their Wisdom and Experience.
One woman shared her journey of breast cancer and how that led her to joining with other women and forming a Community Cancer Support Center. Paying it forward in an amazing and inspiring way!

Another woman, who had always wanted to have a child, but sadly did not have this life experience, spoke about what it is like to be childless- the grief so many women who, through no fault of their own, could not have a child. She spoke about how hard it is to realize that the life that she had so dreamed of and wanted when young did not manifest…and how lonely it is to not have a child, grandchildren…How hard it is when others minimized her pain- or told her how lucky she was that she could do whatever she wanted, travel etc. – when all she ever wanted was to have a child, a family.
This woman’s story opened our eyes and hearts tremendously to a seldom talked about topic in our society…the grief many women carry silently in their hearts because they have never known the joy of having a child.

A third woman spoke about the challenge of her mother’s death – from the time this woman was five years old, her mother was ill. The mother passed when the daughter was 21. She addressed how no one ever talked about the mothers’ illness or passing, that she had no framework to understand death…and how it wasn’t until she was in her early 60’s that she really was able to face how this death impacted and influenced her life. We spoke about how to talk about death to family members, even to grandchildren who ask questions about death- how do we answer them? It led to an amazing discussion.

Though our topics were serious, I cannot begin to tell you how good everyone felt as the meeting ended. It was like we all uplifted one another…I said to myself that this was more than just a social “get together” and it wasn’t therapy either- it was something magically in between– a meaningful sharing of our life experiences, of the Wisdom learned and the questions we still face as we grow older. And, yes, it was a wonderful way for all of us to come to know one another more.

Recently I went to lunch with another friend and she said to me the one thing that she most wants to feel before she dies is to feel that she is truly KNOWN…That is a profound statement. Many people think they “know” someone- but what they truly know is just the surface or just their projections or their judgments or “storylines” about a person. This group- as it is coming together- truly is offering the participants, a place where they can feel supported, embraced and KNOWN…

I hope that others will think about forming such groups in your own communities…Being able to speak and have others there who are truly listening is a great experience. Very Healing…and very needed.

Thank you for taking the time to read this entry- I just wanted to share and thank you for providing us with the “GPS” to helping one another as we touch 70 and beyond!

With Love and Gratitude,

Posted in 70candles, 70Candles! Gatherings, 70Candles! Gatherings - the experience, Attitudes about aging, Dealing with loss, Family matters, Networking, Older women connecting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Attitudes about aging

Here’s a new article from the Washington Post about the effects of our attitudes about aging.

Let us know what you think about this.
Jane and Ellen

Posted in 70candles, Attitudes about aging, Men aging | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Positive Aging Newsletter-More from the Taos Institute

Happily Ever After: Emotions in Old Age

The stereotypes of aging as a time of regret, loss, and longing are one-sided and need to be challenged. Continuing evidence reveals that emotional well-being improves from early adulthood to old age. The present study adds significant new turn: More positive emotions are life-giving.

The research is based on a sample of 184 men and women spanning early to very late adulthood, and was conducted for more than a ten year period. The sample, carefully chosen to represent each generation, wore monitors for one week. At five random intervals during each day, participants reported their emotional states. This procedure was repeated five and then ten years later. Participants rated the degree to which they were feeling each of 19 emotions. The list of emotions included 8 positive (happiness, joy, contentment, excitement, pride, accomplishment, interest, and amusement) and 11 negative emotions (anger, sadness, fear, disgust, guilt, embarrassment, shame, anxiety, irritation, frustration, and boredom).

As the results showed, with greater age there is higher overall emotional well-being and greater emotional stability. These findings remained robust regardless of differences in gender, ethnicity, and physical health. Contrary to the popular view that youth is “the best time in life,” the present findings suggest that the peak of emotional life may not occur until well into the 7th decade.

Of great interest is also the fact that emotional well-being is related to longevity. Controlling for age, sex, and ethnicity, individuals who experienced more positive than negative emotions in everyday life were more likely to survive over a 14 year period. This does not mean that if you are unhappy now that your life will be shortened. Happiness so often depends on joining in social life, and remaining active. These are daily choices.

From: Laura L. Carstensen, Bulent Turan, Susanne Scheibe, Nilam Ram, Hal Ersner-Hershfield, Gregory R. Samanez-Larkin, Kathryn P. Brooks, and John R. Nesselroade Emotional Experience Improves With Age: Evidence Based on Over 10 Years of Experience Sampling. Psychology and Aging, 2011, 26, 21- 33.

Posted in 70candles, Aging | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Positive Aging Newsletter-from the Taos Institute

Life Purpose: Seizing the Days

One problem many confront when they retire is the loss of purpose. The workplace is no longer demanding one’s attention and the nest is empty. Most of the challenges of earlier life – schooling, finding work, finding a partner, and the like – are no longer present. Nor does it seem very nourishing to live out the remaining years just resting and relaxing. So then what? This is no small question, as our lives are held together largely in webs of meaning. Together people generate ideas about what is important or valuable to do – both from day to day and across time. It is important to “win a game” for example, because we have come to agree that it is. Take away the agreement, and who cares? So, moving through and beyond retirement, we may find ourselves heading toward the cliff of “who cares?”

In our last Newsletter we reported on research that is worth revisiting. The research reported that having a purpose in life is literally life giving. In a study of more than 6,000 people, researchers found those with greater purpose were 15 percent less likely to die (over a 14 year period) than those without aims. Those with purpose also slept better, had fewer strokes and heart attacks, lower risk of dementia, and less risk of disability.

There are many reasons for these life advantages. People who have purpose are more likely to be active, thus contributing to fitness. Having a purpose is also associated with being optimistic, and as we have reported in previous issues of the Newsletter, optimism is also a life-giver. Research also shows that those with a strong sense of purpose are also more likely to embrace preventive health services, such as mammograms, colonoscopies and flu shots.

On the positive side, many people find that aging opens a wonderful door to new possibilities. There are all those hobbies, skills, and curiosities – wood working, fishing, painting, gardening, designing, and so on- that had to be put on hold during the demand period of the middle years, now waiting to be rekindled. And there are long-held dreams that can now be made into realities – learning to play an instrument, earning a degree, writing a book, building a house, and so on. We have written much in previous issues about the great benefits that come from voluntary work – in schools, churches, hospitals, and the like. We recently learned of a program run by Experience Corps, an organization that trains older adults to tutor children in urban public schools. Research showed marked improvements in mental and physical health among the volunteers. They also experienced higher self-esteem, and acquired better mobility and stamina. (The children also benefitted.) We are particularly strong advocates of activities in which others participate. As we believe, these webs of meaning making are precious and powerful.

Ken and Mary Gergen

From: Finding purpose for a good life, also a healthy one by Dhruv Khullar, NYTimes, Jan. 1, 2018, online.

Posted in Stories | 4 Comments

The next decade

Anne, Age 77

I read about your website and book in the New York Times. I see from your initial posting that you two were born about the same time I was (October 29, 1940). I am a very lucky, healthy, active 77-year-old woman . . . happily married to a much younger man, still going to the gym, still volunteering. I didn’t have much angst about 70 or even 75 . . . but I am looking askance at 80. I don’t have any health issues, so I will most likely get there.

How are the women who started out with you . . . the ones who were facing 70 in 2010 . . . faring now? Do we need an 80Candles group?

Anne Cornell

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, 70candles, Aging, Looking ahead, Older women connecting, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

A book recommendation

Frances, Age 69

I recently moved (from one residence to another, in the same city). While I was packing up, I weeded out my books (again), and I came across “Necessary Losses” by Judith Viorst.

Some years ago, a friend had given it to me saying that it was a ‘must read’. However, all I knew about Mrs. Viorst was that she was a columnist for some women’s magazines — that alone was enough to turn me off. Additionally, the book was written in 1986 — so how relevant could it possibly be, so many years later. However, instead of putting it in a box for the thrift shop, I put it in the box of books for my nightstand. Right after I moved — the first night in my new home, I opened the book at random and read Chap. 18. And I cried. Then I read another chapter at random — and I cried some more.

I wish I’d had this book in my 20s — except it wasn’t even written then 🙂 — and I probably would not have understood it in my 20s. However, by my mid-40s, I would have understood a lot of it. Now that I’m almost 70 — I understand all of it (I think). Too bad. My life might not have been much easier if I had read this in my mid-40s — I mean, events in my life would have unfolded as they did and were going to — but mentally, emotionally and even spiritually, I would not have so ‘tempest tossed’.

This is a great book for us. Stop whatever you’re doing, go to Amazon, and order a used copy. When I start my 70Candles group in the fall, this is the first book we’re going to read and discuss.

I’ve been saying for years that we’re looking at old age completely wrongly, but I’ve never been articulate enough to explain exactly why. This book explains very well why we have been seeing old age incorrectly without directly saying so.

Just for the record, this is not a ‘pop psychology’ book nor is this a ‘clinical’ book and unreadable. Ms. Viorst, who is now 87, spent 6 years at Freudian-based Washington Psychoanalytic Institute (don’t let that scare you), and the notes in the back of the book are voluminous. It is a very well-written and well-documented book.

Posted in 70candles, Dealing with loss, Read Stories, What we're reading | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Poem about aging

Frances, Age 69

I am not old… she said
I am rare.

I am the standing ovation
At the end of the play.

I am the retrospective
Of my life as art

I am the hours
Connected like dots
Into good sense

I am the fullness
Of existing.

You think I am waiting to die…
But I am waiting to be found

I am a treasure.
I am a map.

And these wrinkles are
Imprints of my journey

Ask me

Author: Samantha Reynolds

Posted in 70candles, Aging, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

So many life stories

Suzanne, Age 69.5

How can a person share just one story when you’ve reached the ripe age of 70?

“All roads lead to Rome” and each quarter of my life made me what I am now. In my 30’s, my husband and I owned a company. We were successful. I traveled the world to shop as part of my job. Had 2 boys, struggled to share myself with them, my husband, and work that was so demanding, but which I loved. We lost that business in our 50’s, went into debt, no income. I had to reinvent myself. My husband couldn’t, he retreated. My 60’s have been so difficult, but I found faith. I have been tested in so many ways including being close to death in a coma. Surprisingly, at one of my lowest points, barely able to walk, age 67….my old boss, a young woman, called and said she knew of a job she thought I’d be perfect for. I interviewed, got the job and then realized that we would have to move to LA. I stayed with friends during the week, sometimes in Airbnb’s. My husband and I lived separate lives until he moved the household. My health improved, loved the job, but was laid off one year later. We stored everything, put the dogs in the back seat and left CA on our new life adventure, driving to find something new….grandchildren pulled us back to LA, I was rehired and at 70, I’m poor in money, but rich in love, faith, work, and life.

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, Gratitude and Spirituality, Resilience, Share your story, Traveling, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments