Value your Siblings and the Old People in your Life

Hurry is the enemy of love.

It’s been noted that ‘hurry’ is the enemy of love.  Sometimes we are so busy, even in retirement, that we don’t have time for what is most important – like our siblings and the old people in our lives.   When our elderly friends or family need our help, we’re conflicted over our priorities. This can be difficult because we already have so much to do.  It’s essential, however, to value your siblings and the old people in your life.

I haven’t known anyone who regretted the time spent with the old people in their lives.  My father and my in-laws both died before I retired.  My father died as a young man, but my in-laws both lived into their late 80s, and my husband and I were actively involved in caring for them at the end of their lives.  Dixie, too, cared for both of her parents in their final years, even moving them to live closer to her and her husband.   Anyone who has done this knows that it’s not easy, and there are times when you wish it would just all go away.  Still, there is great comfort in helping the people we love at the end of their lives.  To make them feel cared-for and safe, and above all, loved.

It’s easier, of course, if they live close, but what do we do when they live far away.  Forbes Magazine shares these seven tips for helping your aging parents beat their loneliness.

Tips for helping out when you live far away.

  1. Maintain frequent contact.  If you only call once a month, call more often.  Call for no reason – just to talk.  When I lived outside the country, I wrote my mother a long letter every week.  I couldn’t call her, but I wanted to maintain regular contact.  When we returned to the United States after five years, she had saved every letter.  She’s gone now, but I’m glad I wrote the letters.
  2. Visit in person at regular intervals. A hug is even better than a call!  Even if you have a difficult parent, you can keep it brief, but make it regular.
  3. During your visit take your aging parent to concerts or plays or movies or anything that he or she especially enjoys and might not go to alone.
  4. Check out the community services available where your parent lives. You can find out so much on the internet.  You may be able to lead them to a great senior center that they don’t even know about.
  5. Ask your parent questions about things like lottery entries and contests. When my mother began to get dementia, she started to enter contests where she was sure she’d win lots of money that she could leave to us.  It wasn’t long until she was scammed.  This is an increasingly worrisome problem, and there are plenty of unscrupulous people out there to take advantage of trusting seniors.
  6. Consider hiring a geriatric care manager. This is particularly helpful if you can only visit your parent once or twice a year.  These professionals can find activities and help your parent when you are far away.
  7. Consider teaching your parent to use technology. My mother-in-law learned to use the computer in her 80s.  She was proud to master e-mail and absolutely delighted with Skype!  Along with the advantages to communication comes a profound sense of pride for the senior who conquers technology.

Treasure your siblings, too!

Value your siblings.

It’s not just our parents and our in-laws who need the gift of attention:  it’s also our siblings.

These are the people who share our past, who co-star in our memories, who understand in the most profound way the very foundations of our lives.  They were there long before our spouse, our children and our grandchildren and they are worth celebrating.  No matter what the relationship with our siblings is at the moment, research shows that strengthening that bond makes us healthier and happier!

Just like with our aging parents, the key to the relationship with our siblings lies in communication and a willing heart.  Familyshare offers nine ways to stay connected to your adult siblings in an article of the same name.

  1. Learn what your siblings are involved in and make efforts to support them.
  2. Forgive and forget. Avoid all those bad things from the past.  Just don’t bring them up.
  3. Treat your siblings as you would a friend. We’re always quick to give our friends a break, but sometimes we don’t offer that same compassion to our sister or brother.
  4. Keep trying – even when it seems like family dinners are always awkward and uncomfortable. You’ll never regret trying.
  5. Keep your siblings in the loop.   Let them know what’s going on in your life.  I’ve always had good feelings about my brother, but we didn’t communicate regularly because our mother kept us both informed, but when we no longer had her, we began to pick up the phone and call each other.  I treasure those calls now.
  6. Have fun together. Do something that everybody likes.  If you live far apart, have a family reunion.  We rented a house with my husband’s family last year and siblings from New York, California, Florida, and Maine had a ball together for four days!  It was worth every penny.
  7. Connect with technology.
  8. Don’t talk about politics. Or religion!  I’m begging you!
  9. Let your siblings grow up. That sister who is 18 years younger than you are is not a little kid anymore.  Treat her with respect!

When we first started this discussion, we said that the only things that are really important in life are the people we love and the people who love us.  I know that’s true.  Don’t let all the hurry of life – even in a great retirement – keep you from concentrating on them.

Why not pick up the phone today and call your mom or your brother!

Pam

writers@richlyaged.com

 

 

 

 

 

Building Extraordinary Relationships

Love is all there is!

If you’re reading a blog about positive aging, I’m relatively sure that you’ve reached the point in your life where you know that the most important things in life aren’t things.

The most important things, of course, are the people we love and those who love us.  That’s why building extraordinary relationships is essential to a happy retirement.  You can have all the money in the world.  You can play golf seven days a week, but if you don’t have people to love, life can be pretty lonely.

It’s only stuff!  You can’t even give it away.

It’s not about acquiring things anymore.  All of our possessions – those things that we thought so necessary when we bought them – turn out to be just “stuff.”  Perhaps we have cleared out our parents’ homes only to discover that all that stuff becomes, in the end, a burden.  We don’t want it, and we can’t sell it.  Heck, we can’t even give it away!

I remember when we were cleaning out my mother-in-law’s studio apartment after her death.  There wasn’t one charitable organization that would come for her flat screen TV.  Finally, we just put it out in the hall with a sign saying, “Free TV.”  It was still there the next morning.

Consider the 50-year-rule.

What does matter, however, are the relationships we forge during our lives.  My mom practiced the 50-year rule.  She liked to think about things in relation to what difference they would make in 50 years.  Wise woman.

If we employ the 50-year rule, we’ll see that very little that we do now will matter in 50 years except those things that we do with the people we love.  Time spent with our children and their children.  Time spent volunteering, perhaps, or time spent mentoring.  Or even time spent protecting the environment.

91% of people in couples said their relationship with their partner was the most important thing for a happy retirement. 75% said that it was their partner or spouse that they would turn to in times of need. 83% overall said that strong personal relationships were very important in determining their happiness.

Huffington Post

It isn’t only the relationship with our partner that’s important.  It’s also the other beloved people in our lives.  I still remember and embrace the time spent with my parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles when I was a child.  They still serve as mentors and models to my life.  Today, I also have siblings and in-laws and grown children and grandchildren and long-time friends to consider.

Everything else is just stuff!

Because building extraordinary relationships is paramount to a successful retirement, we’re starting a series of blogs on how to do it.

Since our relationships bring to our lives both our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows, they deserve some time and some consideration.

Many people go along year after year repeating the same arguments with the same people and suffering through the same disappointing holidays, but it doesn’t have to be that way

It is possible to build extraordinary relationships– to make them more joyous or, at least, less difficult.  We just need a plan.  So come back and spend some time with us over the next couple of weeks while we explore the best ways to build vibrant and fulfilling relationships.

Pam

Writers@richlyaged.com

 

Travel near or far: positive aging

Many of us lived the secret life of “Walter Mitty”… daydreaming our way through various exciting but never experienced adventures. Even Walter found a way to actualize many of those dreams into his real life.  Let’s see what happens when your dreams become  a reality.

Pam, Bob, Dixie and Rick try a Relocation Cruise from Miami to Rome, Italy.

Not every one likes to travel. This positive aging tip is directed for those that do and those that aspire to.

You all know there are hundreds of ways to travel.  The four of us have tried many of them both in our nation and in other countries.

Pam and Bob started a business in Europe and lived both in Bath,England and in the Netherlands before returning to the U.S.  We’ve traveled by trains, planes, automobiles and ships.  Sounds extravagant? We’ve usually managed to do this on a “shoestring.”

Our residences are in Florida, one of the places that makes cruise travel fairly convenient.  We tried a Relocation Cruise with MSC, an Italian cruise line.

MSC, Italian cruise line. Great food, service and wonderful entertainment.

What’s a Relocation Cruise?

Many cruise lines move their vessels out of the Florida region during hurricane season. Basically June 1 to November 1st.  These transitions occur during the “shoulder seasons” meaning fall and spring.  Fall is the time the ships return to the U.S. and spring sends the ships to European ports.

Because the passenger’s portion of the trip is only one way (the trip on the opposite portion is up to you), Relocation Cruises are economical.  We booked a 20 day cruise from Miami to Rome. Ports included;

New York City. Standing at the ground level of “Freedom Tower”
  1. Depart Miami
  2. New York City (overnight in NYC port),
  3. Bermuda
  4. Punta Del Gado  Azores
  5. Lisbon Portugal
  6. Cadiz Spain
  7. Barcelona Spain
  8. Naples Italy (tour of Pompeii)
  9. Rome, Italy

We rented an apartment in Rome for four days to tour the area.  After visiting all our ports each couple flew on to their destinations.

Churches in Rome were spectacular, as expected.
Following the Azores, coming into the Lisbon Portugal port
Found artifacts preserved in the lost city of Pompeii

Obviously, the four of us like to travel and have traveled a bit. This trip did not disappoint.  Though I feel a little like those friends who return from their vacations and then bore you with their travel tales and travel slides/albums, I will stop with the photos.

We advocate travelling near, (we live in an amazingly beautiful country) or far.  The new experiences, adventures, camaraderie and friendship can’t be underestimated.  All important to positive aging.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

One last photo in Rome:

Good friends in Rome. In Italy, Mangia mangia! means EAT!

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” — Tim Cahill

Homework:  If you are one of those who enjoy travel, Checkout a relocation cruise.

Dixie

writers@richlyaged.com

Retirement 5: Mentor a Young Person

Mentor a young person and change two lives at once!

If you read Dixie’s last blog about volunteering, you’re probably full of ideas.  One of the best ways to fulfill your desire to volunteer in retirement is to mentor a young person.  You’d be surprised at the number of younger people who would benefit from your insights and your attention.

You might be able to mentor even before you retire.  You’ve probably noticed in your workplace that there are fresh employees who seem a little like “deer in the headlights” when they first join your employer.

Instead of being a spectator to their discomfort and floundering, make yourself available as a “big brother or sister,” a mentor to gently relay information that will make their transition into the seduction of work a little easier.

Mentors Make a Difference

A good friend of mine, recently retired, became involved in her church women’s group.  She had reached the pinnacle of her career by working hard and then working harder and harder still.  The big recognition reward in her company in addition to salary was earning the coveted pink Cadillac.  She notched 11 of them on her company belt while taking care of her husband and two children.

After retirement she attended a Bible study for herself which allowed her, in retrospect, to examine her life, to look closely at herself and to begin to understand “Sisterhood.”  The “volunteer gig” part of her church relationship in retirement was to spend her time in the “Mom’s Session” with the young mothers to partner with them and validate the importance of the time they were spending with their children while sometimes yearning for the postponed professional life.

My friend’s greatest contribution to these young moms was to remind them how valuable was this time spent with their children and to remind them that this too would pass.  There was ample time left for them to meet their career goals.

Another Story from the Real World

Continue reading Retirement 5: Mentor a Young Person

Retirement 2: Say Yes the First Year of Retirement

 

Yes sign
Say Yes! the first year of retirement.

Say yes invites you to do new things for the whole first year of retirement.  You can pare down and be selective after that.

Before retirement, our lives are pretty much consumed by the time on the job and the ancillary time required to get to and from the job, prepare meals, oversee the household responsibilities and carve a little time for immediate friends and family.

In today’s rapid-paced fast lane, most opportunities not directly related to “the career” are categorized as “back burner.”  Sometimes that burner never gets revisited while the front burner gets “burned out.”

Now you have the luxury of time.  If you plan thoughtfully, you will have the absence of “hurry.”  That formula should result in life fulfillment and self-actualization.  You can try on different shoes to see what’s the most comfortable fit for this new phase of your life.

Be available

Your neighbors, friends, and family are used to having you available for snatches of time before or after work. They have been conditioned to respect your constraints and not bother you for what may be trivial. They have a routine in their lives that hasn’t included you, their too-busy friend. Host a little “getting to know you” brunch at your home to get reacquainted. It would be fun!

The good news is that you are available now!  Go to an unhurried lunch. Take a relaxed shopping trip. Play a round of golf. Attend a class. The list is endless.  This is the time to reach out to friends and neighbors and let them know that you would like to be included. Continue reading Retirement 2: Say Yes the First Year of Retirement

Positive Aging: How To Be Your Own Valentine

Be your own valentine for a perfect Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day – though unbelievably commercial –  can be nice.  Hearts and flowers and candy.  What’s not to like?  That’s all well and good if you’re getting hearts and flowers and candy.  But what if you’re not?  Positive aging means more than just being positive about other people!

We’re often so busy – even in retirement – taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves.  Here’s a solution to that problem. Continue reading Positive Aging: How To Be Your Own Valentine