Enjoy your Children and Grandchildren

 

 Blessed with children and blessed again with grandchildren.

Children and then grandchildren…both relationships uniquely special.

In retirement, in an ideal world, we’re finally finished with the anxiety of launching our children into the world of adulthood.  Hopefully, they are grown up, finished with school, working, and married with children, but they are still our children and will always be part of our “primary family.”

They, however, have spouses and children of their own, and we now have a different status.  Even though we revel in the freedom from responsibility that adult children embody, some retirees can feel abandoned by their grown children.  Some others have difficult relationships with their adult children for any number of reasons.

In “Mothers and Their Adult Daughters:  Mixed Emotions, Enduring Bonds,”  Karen L. Fingerman, Ph.D. argues, “The parent-offspring relationship in modern America is based more on emotional affection than on economic or cultural imperatives.”

In other words, adult children who stay in close touch with their parents do it because they like them and like to spend time with them.  That’s the secret. We want them to want to be with us. It’s a choice.

Here are some suggestions to make that happen.

  • Don’t talk about how long it’s been since you’ve seen/ had a text from/ or talked on the phone with them. You’re trying to tell them that you love them, but what they’re hearing is a whole heap of guilt.  It’s better to say (when they finally do call), “Hi!  I’m so glad to talk to you.”
  • “How can you live like this?” is not a good way to start a conversation. Have you forgotten what it was like to try to work, do kids’ sports, teach Sunday school, and get Christmas ready?  Something’s got to give, and in my house back in the day, it was the housework. Here’s a good place to employ the 50-year-rule.  What difference is a clean bathroom when compared to a happy kid?
  • Don’t make your kids take sides in your own marital problems. The prevalence of divorce in our generation has made some big family occasions more awkward than they were in an earlier time.

Try to get along when everyone is together, and make it easy for   them if that’s  impossible.

I have one friend who does Christmas with her adult children early in December so that they can spend the actual day of Christmas with her ex-husband and his  present wife. The appreciation she receives from the children is worth the sacrifice.

A few more tips for “children and grandchildren” happiness.

  • Make sure that your adult children know how much you love them. Embrace them and tell them so.  It’s not all about the grandchildren.
  • Have fun with your adult children. Take them out to dinner without the grandchildren.  Meet as adults.
  • Be a cheerleader for your children. Share their good news with them with genuine joy.
  • Treat your grown children with respect. It’s hard to give up the role of advice-giver.  Just listen and act as a sounding board.  This is difficult!  Sometimes I have to bite my tongue.
  • Accept your family relationships the way they are and not the way you would like them to be. It’s not “over the river and through the woods” anymore!

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”              Elizabeth Stone

I have two children happily married and four teen-aged grandchildren.  This is a wonderful phase in our “richly aged” retirement lives.  Enjoy it everyday! It adds to our richness.

Homework:  Give hugs to all of them, even if they are cyber hugs.

Dixie

richlyaged.com

writers@richlyaged.com

Remember why you chose your Spouse?

When it’s the right match!

Choosing the ONE!

Let’s start with our primary relationship. That means your spouse or significant other…or maybe you are single again but anticipating someone filling that gap.

In the beginning of the relationship what was it that made you excited to spend time with him?  You had so many things to talk about, to discover about each other; music, movies, activities, perspectives on various subjects, unconditional attention for each other and unfettered hopes and dreams.

Now fast forward, 5, 10, 30, even 50 years.

Consider that we may have spent so much time together that sometimes we don’t even really see our partners.  We tend to take that person for granted.  Sure you’ve changed over your history together but it’s probable that your partner has changed also.

It’s time to get to know each other all over again.  Working in separate careers over a long period of time provides exclusive experiences and growth for each of you.  Once retired, it’s time to reacquaint.

Even if we have an indifferent relationship, almost strangers, there was a time when our mate brought us nothing but joy – even butterflies in the stomach!  Can you remember that?

Research shows that couples who do new or different things together are happier than those who fall into same-old routines.

In the beginning of a relationship, you’re going to new places, you may both have tentative feelings about how the other person feels, and all of that contributes to the above-mentioned butterflies you feelOver time, you relax around each other and can get complacent. You don’t need to go zip lining but keeping things fun, like singing songs in the car or trying pickle ball can help keep boredom from clouding your relationship.

Recount that joy here

 This exercise should remind you of why you chose this person in the first place.  It does for me.

 List five reasons why you committed yourself to this relationship.

Okay, I’ll start:

  1. He’s handsome.
  2. He makes me laugh several times a day and is really funny.
  3. He’s my best friend and soulmate.
  4. He’s who I think of first when I see something I want to share.
  5. He gives the “gift of attention” when discussing topics (caveat, not quite as much as 33 years ago.)
  6. He’s a great dancer, tennis player, cook, hugger, etc.
  7. He loves our kids and grand-kids.
  8. He’s “game” for new activities.
  9. We have history, and history validates your life. When you have inside jokes and stories you create a bond.

Okay, I’ll stop.  I know that’s more than five, but I couldn’t help myself.

Now it’s your turn.  List 5 “magnetic” reasons.

Create Your Retirement Relationship together

Now that you’re in a positive frame of mind, you need to spend some time exploring the idea of retirement life together.

According to a recent Fidelity study of 500 married couples ages 33 to 70, more than a third of them gave completely different answers when asked about when they would retire and what they wanted their lives to look like in retirement.

Now is the time!

Planning retirement together.

Here are some partner questions to help you get started.

  • When do you want to retire?  Will you do it at the same time?  If not, how will that work?
  • How much money will you have to live on?  This isn’t the primary question, really, but it does make a difference in what you’ll do.
  •  The secret is in matching the plan to the amount and living happily with what we do have.  There are countless ways to “live large” on a shoestring, but that’s a subject for another time.
  • Make separate lists of ten things that you’d like to do in the next ten years and then compare the lists.  You will probably be surprised and possibly delighted.  But no matter what, you’ll have a great conversation.
  • As a couple, free flow your thoughts as partners?  Don’t limit yourself to listing those things that need to be done around your home.  Dream big here!  The sky is the limit.

“It’s simple: Whether you’ve been together a short time or a lifetime: Be conscious and intentional about making your relationship a priority or run the risk of drifting apart and becoming strangers.”

Now put on your favorite song, pour a glass of healthy antioxidant-filled red wine and sit by each other while you get busy on your “retirement  relationship” lists.

 Dixie

Writer’s@richlyaged.com

STROKE: Do you know the warning signs of a stroke?

I didn’t know the signs the first time I had a stroke.

That was in 2012 and again in 2013. And again, last Saturday, April 29, 2017, I still wasn’t convinced that my symptoms meant stroke.

Warning Signs of Stroke:
Memory Tool: FAST
National Stroke Association.

Though, this time I was 100 percent sure about the warning signs of stroke.

When the symptoms started, I struggled to rationalize away the symptoms; pinched nerves, sitting wrong, too much salsa dancing, pulled my back and on and on.

Last Saturday, it had been four years since I experienced any symptoms or even thought about it.

My left cheek and side of my mouth, my left arm and left leg were tingling and feeling sort of numb. My balance seemed iffy.  I didn’t want the embarrassment or inconvenience to others of a “false alarm.”  I know that’s silly, but I’m a master at second guessing.

I finally gave in to my husband’s urging and called 9-1-1.  After the call, the rest is out of your hands.  During a stroke, speed equals brain health.  When you’ve had a stroke, you are at greater risk of having another one. Type 1 diabetes complicates it.

Warning Signs of Stroke from National Stroke Association*

Stroke happens in the brain…not the heart.

May is National Stroke awareness month. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of serious disability for adults.

Certainly it involves the blood from the heart and the arteries that carry the blood to the brain.

A stroke occurs when one of these arteries to the brain is either blocked or bursts.  As a result, part of the brain does not get the blood it needs, so it starts to die.

Learn the many signs of a stroke.  Act FAST and Call 9-1-1 immediately at any sign of a stroke.

Use the FAST sign to remember the warning signals.

More important information from the National Stroke Association*  www.stroke.org/symp

“NOTE THE TIME WHEN ANY SYMPTOMS FIRST APPEAR.  If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA-approved  clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common types of stroke.

Good News this Time

This time it was a false alarm. After an EKG, Cat scan, MRI, Carotid sonogram and ECO cardiogram and multiple lab tests and an overnight stay, it was determined that I had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke.

According to the National Stroke Association, major symptoms of a TIA include:

  • Numbness, weakness or loss of vision
  • Trouble speaking
  • Loss of balance or coordination.

When a TIA happens, the artery either becomes unblocked after a short time or a new path opens up and blood flow goes back to normal. Because of that, the symptoms last for a short time and then disappear.  A TIA is a serious warning sign that you might have a stroke.  If you’ve had a TIA, you should see your doctor immediately

My “backwards” Stroke warning symptom experience.

Rick and Dixie

In 2012, after playing tennis that day,  I woke in the night to visit the bathroom.  My left knee buckled and I had to drag myself back to bed.  In the morning when I got up, my left knee and left elbow kept buckling and tingling and the left side of my mouth was numb.

Still no clue about a possible stroke.  I didn’t know the symptoms. I noted that I really needed to have my back checked and urged my husband to go on with his day’s activities.

Later, a friend called to play tennis, I told her I why I couldn’t.  A retired critical care nurse, she came over immediately and drove me to the hospital.  I used a golf club as a cane.

Turns out that this was a stroke and by waiting overnight and the next morning, the neurologist said the prospects weren’t good for my recovering the losses. I missed the deadline for the clot buster,  and I had a blood clot in my brain.  He was rightfully upset at my lack of knowledge about signs of stroke. He felt the tingling I had experienced at the pool and ignored the previous week was a warning attack or TIA.

I spent a week in the hospital with therapists for speech, strength, writing, balance and walking. Because we were still snowbirds, I needed to fly with a “walker” from Florida to Colorado to resume my insured healthcare and stroke therapy.

The stroke therapist was excellent. By the 8th week, I was back to “as normal as I get,” and because I am a lefty, started to hit the tennis ball with my right hand.  Soon life returned to normal.

Second time around, stroke symptoms

The second event was a year later and predicated by an oral dose of prednisone for sciatica.  I went to the hospital immediately and received the clot buster and was told that folks with Type 1 diabetes should never be given prednisone at all but especially in oral doses.

As I said before, I had no symptoms since 2013 until last Saturday.  I have to say it’s a hard evaluation to determine if the sensations are stroke or something else.

I was blessed and with my first stroke’s education and the recovery.  Very very blessed and lucky.

“National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing education and program on stroke prevention, treat, rehabilitation and support. “

Please spread awareness by sharing the FAST symptoms of stroke with five of your friends and family, it can happen at any age.

Visit www.stroke.org today and put the warning signs on your refrigerator.

I thought my ER doctor made a compelling argument last Saturday,when he said, “Sorry about your embarrassment that this could be a false alarm. You made the smart choice.   You could put it off and end up “not being able to wipe yourself.”

That resonates with me. How about you?

Dixie

email:  writers at richlyaged.com

website: richlyaged.com  a blog about positive aging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Get outside your comfort zone!

I must be honest:  I’m a physical chicken.

I’m pretty brave emotionally – love

Pam and Bob anticipating a retirement life of sailing.

new jobs, adore new cities, even new countries.  But a roller coaster leaves me weak in the knees.  Don’t even mention going up in hot air balloon.  Not so my buddy Dixie.  She barrels down the mountain on her skis, goes para-sailing at the drop of a hat, slalom skis in the Mediterranean, and once even considered hang-gliding off a mountain in Switzerland.  The only thing that kept her grounded was her lack of the language.  Thank goodness she couldn’t speak German because I couldn’t even bear to watch!

So when we first retired, I decided to use Dixie as an inspiration and get out of my comfort zone by facing my fear of sailing – something my husband dearly wanted to do.

You can't control the wind but you can adjust your sails
Dixie: In yellow shorts with toes in the water on a friend’s sailboat on the Columbia River.

Bob longed to become a proficient sailor and enjoy the open water and the mastery of the winds.  I loved the idea of learning something new with my husband and envisioned the times we would spend enjoying the experience and sharing long hours with friends unfettered by the constraints of land.  But I was scared.

Facing my fears, we signed up for a water safety class believing this would quell any anxiety about sailing.

Good idea, wrong outcome!  I tried this sailing stuff earlier in our life but felt like circumstances were different enough now in retirement that this time would be positive.

Stay within your comfort zone.

In the middle of the water safety class that listed all the things that could go wrong – ending with fire – I stood up and announced to the class that I took this class to calm my fears but now knew at least ten more ways we could die in a sailboat.

We eventually made it onto the water, learned to tack and how to get ourselves off when we ran aground, but I was always more comfortable with the boat sitting straight up and going slow.  None of that heeling over for me!

During my final sailing experience, our small motor fell off the transom and into the water.  We had to sail into the nearest gas dock.   Need I say more?  I literally jumped off the boat!  That day I decided that I’d faced my fears and gone to the very edge of my comfort zone.  And that was enough of that.

Remember what I told you about Dixie wanting to hang-glide off the mountain in Switzerland?  Well, there’s more to the story.

Alps language barrier prevented jump.

We rode up to the top of the world that morning on a ski-lift.  In the summer, ski-lifts are very, very high up in the air – especially in the Alps.  I just closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing deeply till we made it to the top.  But there’s no way I could ride that thing back down.  So Dixie and Rick took the lift down at the end of the day, and Bob and I took several hours to walk down.  Even walking, I felt like I was going to fall off the mountain.  I told you I was a chicken!

Still there’s something satisfying about looking something you fear squarely in the eye and doing it anyway.  I’m glad I did.  But if you’ve done it, and it’s still scary, it’s okay to give it up.  I’ll be happy to ride in your sailboat.  I just don’t want to sail my own.  And keep it upright, please.  None of that heeling over!

What fears have you overcome?  Send us a photo, and we’ll post it.

Pam

Writers@richlyaged.com