Why is it so difficult to talk with loved ones about the practical issues pertaining to growing older? Is it fear, is it denial or is it the discomfort most of us have when thinking about something unknown? Is it those images we have in our heads of what it looks like to grow old? I think the answer is yes to all of the above.
Let’s face it; we all get older as do our family members. No one is immune or unaffected by this reality. Yet we find our society and our country still steeped in the ways of the past. “Don’t talk about that, it’s too scary, too private, etc.” A conversation of what we want for ourselves in terms of how we want to age is vital to ensuring that we achieve success in this endeavor of bringing satisfaction, peace and comfort to ourselves and those we care for.
Thankfully things are beginning to change. We as a country and a community of concerned advocates have seen the tide turning. There are organizations and resources with funding that have started to offer services and support to help us grow older in a positive healthy way.
There are conversations happening at all levels – in our living rooms, across the kitchen table, and in community centers. Task forces are speeding ahead charged with figuring out ways to provide services to the aging population in a way that encourages dignity and the ability to remain part of the community. Local, state and federal government agencies are implementing and creating services that all of us can take advantage of. It looks like our country has not only recognized the reality of growing older in America but has embraced the idea that if we do it in a supportive, thoughtful, collaborative and holistic way; everyone wins. You cannot go online or turn on the TV without seeing something about aging.
This is a wonderful development but as with most things; this wave of recognition and conversation must begin on a personal level. We must as family members and individuals consider our own paths and goals. Once we have identified them we can then reach out to these organizations for support guidance and resources.