Holding Pattern

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How many moments in a minute?

Wait a minute, I’ll look it up.

A moment is a brief period of time,

a jiffy, a bit, a twinkle.

 

We see the movement of a clock..

we watch the second hand,

we can physically change the time.

A moment is less than a second,

24 hours at 60 minutes each

adds up to 86, 400 seconds.

That’s a lot of moments!

 

It is easier to bear pain

when your head knows

it will only lasts a few seconds.

But, what if it is for a minute…

5 minutes……..

 

My mental clock has been set for moments.

I can do this, 1 moment at a time,

this loss, this empty, this where did ‘we’ go place!

It comes to me that I am in a “holding pattern’,

a much cared for, grateful to be, place.

 

I do not set it, I allow it to be set.

 

Lillian Rumfield Bryson

Mid May 2017

 

 

 

Delaying Retirement

This is a short synopsis about the article which appeared in the nytimes.  Click on the photo above to read the full article.

Retirement age is in flux.  Older adults are in good health and have a longer prognosis of survival than a few years ago.  Some are delaying retirement.  Some are taking part-time jobs, some are self-employed and others are using skills learned in earlier jobs to retrain themselves.

Benefits from work  activate the brain and expand social networks.   Continuing to work keeps older people mentally and physically active.  Some people stay at home initially and then feel disillusioned and bored.  The author found that these negative results didn’t change with different educational and occupational backgrounds although most  gains were found  largely  to women and older people with post-secondary education. Volunteer workers got physical benefits  and cognitive gains from interacting with children.

Work provides a routine and purpose, a social environment and a sense of community.  This article  presents testimony from people who have stayed working and benefited from income, engagement and social connections.

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Henri Matisse at age 77-82 designed the Vence chapel on the French Riviera (1949-1951). When not working from bed, he stood on suitcases and boxes in the chapel as he completed it. images-1.jpeg  Many regard it as one of the great religious structures of the 20th century.

 

 

Development in the Face of Decline

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When we recognize problems and risks involved in aging, we need to take them seriously. This is a big issue for us in America. We admire our ability to choose, and we want our independence. We equate this with health and success. We see ourselves as failures if our bodies threaten us with disability. We must  realize that our image of ourselves as being able to always act independently might need alteration.

This becomes prominent when we have less strength and resistance than we used to have. Caring for ourselves becomes more necessary and predominant when we become more vulnerable. We may need to call for help to improve. Our view of ourselves will be altered.

Interdependence becomes the watchword when we feel frail  and weak. We recognize  that we may not be able to be as active or as balanced as we had been.  Using caution in our decisions becomes highlighted. Accommodating to a new reality can bring fear and gloom into our self-perception.

If we can talk about the highs and lows with others in a context of warmth and understanding, we will be rewarded with tolerance, compassion and support. This can reduce the feelings of embarrassment and isolation that we face when considering the struggles of aging alone.

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Older adults in late age need to confront and work on the challenges which result in severe life changes.   Juggling declining health with wishes to be younger and more agile helps to reassess our functioning.

Adaptations in order to transition to new options may be necessary. This process is unlike resignation or surrender which has a quality of giving up attached to it. The new adaptations or readjustments are geared to alleviate pain and dysfunction and to enhance productivity.

People feel, “I want to still be somebody.   I am somebody. I’m still alive. It’s ego, vanity. I want to show people what I used to be. What am I now?”

Self-perception needs to be considered and replaced in order to move on realistically at this time.   The capacity for regeneration and development is still there.

Our eyes have opened to the road ahead. There is no question of turning back. We have come along to a place where we are willing to consider facing late life realistically.

Making changes requires letting go of a former part of ourselves. The wish to be a replica of a previous self is replaced with an expanded and illuminated perspective of life more in line with what is doable now.

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We discover a revised version of ourselves. We can look at the person we had been in the past and the way we have lived life at that time.

We then measure this with the needs and expectations that we currently have. This aids in an acceptance of a realistic identity that we can feel proud of in order to live life. We can redefine ourselves by redirecting  and adapting personal strengths and talents to goals that fit in with our current abilities.

Denial of a problem is replaced with acceptance.  This frees up energy. Experience gathered over a lifetime can be called upon to make appropriate redefinitions based on what is doable now.

We develop increased determination to get back to a reasonable level of health and functioning in the face of problems. We develop flexibility in our ability to accept the reality of the change. A common reaction is, “This is the way my ability to function to function is now. I accept it. I can’t be the person I had been. I’ll live with it”.

Personality traits strengthened in this struggle are determination, resilience, courage, patience, tolerance and an ability to negotiate solutions.

Instead of feeling humbled at the reduction of these abilities, older people need praise for their endurance and frustration tolerance in making the best of an unalterable situation.woman-441409_960_720.jpg

These transitions can be navigated with determination and dignity, enhancing late life and reducing bitterness. Accepting downturns and returning to an adjusted and comfortable place can move us into a position of accommodation to reality.

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-In the face of aging, do you feel you have to remain the person who you had been?

-What does it take to adapt to the inevitable changes that aging requires of us?

-Can you figure out when to ask for help?

-Can you draw on the strengths and coping skills that you relied on earlier in life?

-Would you be able to make trade-offs to meet future goals (exam: adapting to health restrictions)?

-Can you redirect your personal strengths and talents toward goals that fit your age and stage in life?

(Google News chose this article to appear on their web site.  It drew many responses. Development in the Face of Decline « Vibrant Seniors
https://vibrantseniors.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/development-in-the-face-of-decline/
Feb 6, 2017 – When we recognize problems and risks involved in aging, we need to take them seriously. We must alter our image of ourselves as …)

Being Mortal

Being Mortal:  Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20696006-being-mortal

The information below has been taken from reviews of this book:

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Bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.  Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families.

Oldsters who face neglect of institutionalization may feel they must put their life decisions in the hands of their children.  The other choice might be a controlled and unsupervised institutional existence, giving them a life designed to be safe but empty of anything they care about.  They are left bored, lonely and helpless.

Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.

Gawande tells us how it is possible in some cases to choose less treatment rather than more when faced with life-threatening illness and to experience a better quality of life in our final days.

This is pretty grim stuff but Gawande is graceful, as graceful as he can be when the choices are so limited and so frankly horrible. Our hierarchy of needs changes when we face a life threatening situation. When a loved one (or we ourselves) must make choices, it is wise, he counsels, to ask ourselves a few questions:

What do we fear most?

What do we want most to be able to do?

What can/can’t we live without?

What will we sacrifice so that we can accomplish what it is we want?

Gawande addresses some of the most difficult questions we have to decide in a lifetime. It is not easy to read. But it helps, I think, to know what choices we can make when the time comes for someone we love or for ourselves.

 

Follow Your Bliss

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If you follow your bliss,

you put yourself on a kind of track

that has been there all the while waiting for you,

and the life you ought to be living

is the one you are living.

Joseph Campbell ca1980

I have simply grown to know

that I must fill the lead

stay in the flow as best I can

and rest in the reasoning

Balance is a fine line

Lillian Rumfeld Bryson 1995

Vigil

Moments, give me pause to stay,

for I have grown to walk the walk..

to recognize that should I veer

there will be balance..and to know

not to stretch the oh so fine line

beyond its measure

And on this day, this very day,

wakened to the path long followed;

its light seeping into my morning

brought a moment of bliss

Lillian Rumfeld Bryson  2016