Do you speak up for yourself or do you let your thoughts simmer like a pot of stew on the back burner? If you tend to let things simmer, you need to remember that even a pot of stew needs to be stirred once in awhile. Can you think of that pot of stew as a pot of senior issues? Tom Lauricella (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote a rather insightful article about the need for seniors to speak up for themselves (The Wall Street Journal: Sunday, August 8, 2012). The article was on the financial page which tells you that the focus was on financial planning, wills, and who gets what when you check out. These are indeed timely issues, but I like to think of some here and now issues too. Now is the time to sit down and have “a talk”. When I use the words “a talk” it is not the same at “the talk,” that may come later on. “The talk” is the one where the children sit down to discuss things like where you should live or whether or not you can drive. Right now you can be the moderator though, and you can bring up all relevant issues. You can talk about end of life issues, health care directives, division of assets and what to do with the family home, but it is also the time to bring up how you want to live.
Sometimes it is difficult to determine at what age the child becomes the adult or the adult becomes the child. Long before reaching this crossroads a frank discussion needs to take place, so that everyone knows where you stand. People are reluctant to have these conversations because they don’t want to think about the inevitable, but the ramifications are broader than that. Older people don’t talk as freely about how they feel or what their plans are. It wasn’t the custom when they were growing up to air dirty laundry or bother others with their stories of woe. I know about these things because I grew up in a Scandinavian household. We were all very quiet and reserved about personal things, so nobody talked. I have always wondered if people who grew up in volatile busy-body type households were more open with each other. Does anyone have any stories to share?
Hopefully people are better about communicating now. I think I am. Long before getting to the point of that “other talk,” people need to communicate their wishes and desires about broader issues. If you have strong feelings about aging in place it would behoove you to let someone know. Where you want to live out your life is just as important as deciding where you want to be buried. How willing are you to spend your hard earned money on making your dreams a reality?
You will have much more say about how your future is going to play out in regards to living arrangements, health care decisions, or your finances, if you make your preferences known. Dare to dream and dare to make plans. Talk about everything. Discuss your plans with your family at a time when your input is welcomed and well regarded.