I am frozen with choices as to what to write about this week. My first inspiration has to do with planning for retirement. There is a current series in the New York Times addressing this (7 Days to Better Retirement). I am finding it eye-opening! My second is to write about what I have learned about myself now that I am on the other side of my hip replacement surgeries. The third, and hard to ignore, is the impeachment hearings and current state of our nation. The fourth is to preview Thanksgiving, 2019, especially since it will fall just after this blog is published. The last, and by no means least, is to acknowledge that this blog is celebrating two years of publication! Worthy of taking a passing notice certainly!
Rather than choose one, I will attempt to address each, however briefly.
The series in the New York Times is both encouraging and daunting. I continue to operate under the retirement plan of one day winning the lottery (even though I do not buy tickets), and/or inheriting lots of money from a wealthy admirer who remains unknown to me (remember the TV show “The Millionaire?”). On the other hand, I might end up a bag lady.
Most of us do not have the ability to set aside 15% of our income in order to have adequate drawdown to last us 20-30 years after we retire. It is now common for financial advisers to recommend people hold off taking Social Security until 70 or older. These two recommendations are sound, but underscore the divide between the haves and have-nots, and are out of reach for many older Americans.
Housing is another issue. Based on alarming statistics, more and more elders are finding themselves without secure housing. The availability of elder-friendly units in assisted living facilities is finite. Until someone moves or dies, a unit does not become available. Urban living units that have elder-friendly accommodations such as elevators are few. Rent control, once a protection for long-term residents, is now a barrier to developers who look for a quick return on their investment.
Personally, I intend to continue to work for many years to come. I am in a profession that does not tax my body with heavy labor or demanding activity. This certainly is not so for the majority of aging Americans who may both desire and need to continue working in order to keep a roof over their head and food in their belly. The future may be very bleak for many.
The most common question people have asked me since my surgery is, “What is different about you? Did you change your hair?” The answer is, “I look different because I am no longer in pain.” Pain is insidious. It takes up residence in our bodies and minds, and then makes demands that can defeat the most stalwart amongst us. Absence of it has literally changed how I look and feel.
If you need to replace your hips, knees, shoulders, or other joint do it before it becomes so bad you can’t stand the pain! Make sure you have a surgeon who has done lots and lots of the kind of surgery you need. Take time to pre-hab. This means do the exercises you will need to do after the surgery before you have the surgery. Try hypnosis. Go to a certified hypnotherapist and have them record an induction for you. Play it for weeks before your surgery to get you prepared.
Impeachment Hearings & State of the Nation
OMG! Our nation is blessed with incredibly loyal, talented, and intelligent civil servants. Many are wearing military uniforms; others the uniform of the diplomat. Our foreign service officers are the best of the best and represent our interests with fervor and grace throughout the world. Yes, there are some who fall below this threshold, but not so many to tarnish the legacy of those who serve with honor. I cannot express my gratitude and admiration enough.
On the other hand, some of our elected representatives are leaving me embarrassed and ashamed.
Thanksgiving, for me, represents the best of holiday traditions. It contains rich, indulgent food. It brings friends and family together. It reinforces the notion that giving thanks is a worthy endeavor. I was blessed growing up with happy memories of family gatherings that reflected all these elements.
My first year in college, I flew home for Thanksgiving, made my way to my mother’s house, and then literally traveled over the river and through the woods to my cousin’s house. One of five brother’s, each had taken on a holiday to host the ever-expanding family. Thanksgiving was always in Mapleton at Jule’s and Marge’s house. What a feast! What fun getting together with the cousins! What shared happiness!
That was in 1971. Both Jules and Marge are gone now. The house in Mapleton remains, but no family members occupy it. My immediate family are also gone. And I no longer call Wisconsin home. What connects all these is the feeling of thanks and belonging that lies at the heart of this holiday.
This year, I am looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with a friend, sharing a simple meal we constructed that does not include turkey (never a fan!), but does include all the sides and pie! So much to be thankful for including support and love from those who I now consider to be my family, the happy memories of those who are no longer in human form but remain in my heart, alive as ever, and for the opportunity to enjoy new-found freedom from pain. I am so very blessed.
For so many aging adults, this time of year intensifies the loneliness and depression that occupy spaces that may once have been filled with happiness and joy. If you know of someone who is alone, reach out to them and offer them your kindness.
Center for Aging and Values Weekly Blog
I really had no idea that this weekly practice of putting words to paper would result in such rich returns. Writing this blog has afforded me the opportunity to explore all kinds of topics and share my insights with you. It has offered a platform for communication and a exchange of ideas. It has improved my writing and gifted me opportunities for trying out new ways of approaching the challenges of aging. As a friend pointed out, I am using this to document my own aging process. And it is an interesting treasure trove to sift through and re-read.
I first published this blog back in November of 2017. In the 105 posts since, I have found my voice. Thank you for being so loyal and taking the time to read and respond to my words. Thank you for sharing them with others.
Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.