Someday Comes Very Fast

Suddenly you’re lumped into “elderly”

© 2014 Beth Terry, Everybodys Lost photo of grandmas

Grandmas Watch the wedding of two millenials (Mom on Left)

Loneliness in the elderly is a growing concern. Most of us think we will be elderly “Someday” but don’t realize how close that is exactly. I’d bet there’s someone living in your building or on your block that matches the woman in this Documentary by James Darby about the life of a 98 year old woman.

Our culture has made much of “feminism” and freedom for women – many women who were homemakers during the 60’s were the first to be “free to live on their own and do their own thing.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m an independent woman and I love my freedom to choose my career and make my own life choices. As someone from the 60’s I fought for equality for all. But legal equality doesn’t guarantee equal results.

Legal equality doesn’t guarantee equal results

This video shows the double edged sword of a cultural change and philosophy that left out some important pieces to the puzzle. When the family began to fall apart, most people advocating for this lifestyle didn’t think very far into the future. This woman in the video was probably on the forefront of that sea change in the way the family was organized. Her mother probably lived with the family until she died. Nuclear families were the norm until the 60’s.

Too many women, especially in the WW2 generation, were ill prepared and poorly trained in things like investments and late life planning to know what to do about their lives past retirement or post-death of a spouse. What kills me is that the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of this woman are probably on Facebook or Pinterest 10 hours a day making thousands of “friends” instead of accessing a wonderful resource through grandma.

  • What’s her story?
  • What did she see in her life in those amazing years since 1917? She’s a walking history book!
  • What are her beliefs? Where did she get them?
  • What accomplishments does she have in her past?
  • What mistakes did she make that would be wonderful lessons for today’s Millenials?

I love the programs where they pair a teenager with someone like her. Even for an hour a day it would make a huge difference in the lives of both people. The teen could help with physical things as simple as washing the dishes, and this woman’s life experience could enrich that teenager’s life forever. I would love to see some high school take up a project of recording the memories of their 80 and 90 year olds in their communities.

My mom is 93 and still looks purty good as you can see in the photo above! (Yay for my genes!) She still works in the garden, she goes down to the historical society and volunteers, and she belongs to a church. Mom says she’s blessed, too. And like the woman in the video she doesn’t want to move, she’s been in her home for decades. It’s familiar and with her sight failing, familiar is a good thing.

Beyond connecting with older relatives and neighbors, we Boomers sneaking up on retirement should think about downsizing and creating “living compounds” while we are still ambulatory and have full use of all our senses.

It’s true that we don’t age much in our self-assessments (and I didn’t realize it till the gray started sneaking into my hair!)  When someone asks, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” My answer is 42. What’s yours?  Are you shocked by the face that greets you in your mirror?  Days go by, the minutes pass, choices and decisions are made, and suddenly a much older face stares back at you…

What do you do?

Find your older neighbors and make an effort to bring them a little sunshine from time to time

If you are getting older, “Someday” comes up real fast, so take some time to plan for your life 10-20-30 years from now. There are a lot of people who do investment counseling for a living! Find them!

Learn to dance, take up a hobby, plant a garden, get a low-maintenance pet, go for walks, meet your neighbors, be involved with your family, love people and forgive them. All that will go a long way to mitigating the loneliness that comes with getting older.

In other words – take some responsibility for making your “golden years” as golden as possible. If you are 55, you have around 13,000 days before you celebrate your 90th birthday. How will you use them?

Have a wonderful November!

Beth Terry

© 2015 Beth Terry • All Rights Reserved

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