When Dementia Strikes Home, We All Need Help

A review of, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias, 101 stories, eds. Amy Newmark and Angela Timashenka Geiger, (Cos Cob, CT: Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, April 2014).  Available online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and perhaps your local bookstore.

Photo by Matt, Chicken Soup for the Soul, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dippy_duck/

Photo by Matt, Chicken Soup for the Soul, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dippy_duck/

The editors of this fine book have compiled 101 useful stories of living with dementia. I wish it had been available years ago.

Mary Jane (MJ), my mother-in-law, suffered from dementia for many years. My wife, Barbara, and I aren’t sure when it started; but MJ had been growing less capable, more dependent, since the late 1950s. Continue reading

Who Are You?

Retirement DSC00977

Sunset on Lake Champlain

Who reads these posts? What’s going on here?

This blog is now two years old and we might take stock of our efforts. Two years ago I expected most readers would be retired. Now it’s clear that many readers are not even close to retirement but instead work serving a senior population.

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The Resurgence of Interdependent Families

These guys may be on the table next year

These guys may be on the table next year

 

Retirees and others are digesting prolonged economic hardships, and like “Old Love,” it can be hard to spot. Two recent reports from Merrill Lynch pin down what many retirees experience in their own families.

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Options Near the End of Life

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Last week Mr. Donald Keene asked about a couple who can’t afford good institutional care but doesn’t want to force either one into the role of caretaker for a long terminal illness. What are the options for a peaceful end of life experience for both?

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An Ancient Guide to Aging Well

Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero, born into an aristocratic Roman family in 106 BC, was one of Rome’s leading philosophers, lawyers, and orators. At age 62, a year before his brutal death at the hands of Mark Anthony’s minions, he wrote an essay, On Old Age. Written without knowledge of Buddhism, before Christianity, and centuries before modern science, his essay is surprisingly relevant today.

The essay takes the form of a dialogue between two young men and Marcus Cato (Cicero’s alter ego), who was supposedly 84 at the time of the writing. The young men engage Cato with questions. They notice that old age seems not to burden Cato yet to many others it is a hateful weight. So they ask Cato how they might achieve for themselves a graceful old age. They ask particularly if Cato’s large wealth and high position, which are available to only a few, make old age tolerable. Continue reading

Boomers Aging in Place and the Beacon Hill Village

A Village Aging in Place

There are currently about 35 million people age 65 or older living in the United States. Last year, the leading edge of the population tsunami that is the Baby Boomer generation turned 65. By 2030, the nation’s population of 65 or older will more than double (PDF), reaching 72.1 million people according to the federal Administration on Aging.

The increasing number of elderly Americans means an increasing demand for services, which will strain public resources at all levels. The demand will be great, but it is nothing preparation can’t take care of, and the time to prepare is now. Unfortunately, the economic recovery underway in the U.S. is slow and halting. The consequent lack of tax money means governments will likely be unable to handle the wave of elderly citizens that will soon engulf many communities. Continue reading

Adding Facebook—a Virtual Social Life—to Your Mix

Computer photo by Wilton Rodregues

Do you have a virtual social life as well as a real one? Facebook, a social networking site dominated by young people, is also becoming popular with retirees. That trend will likely intensify in upcoming years as Boomers, most of whom are already online, move into retirement. A fundamental reason underpins Facebook’s likely growth among older people: friends can be hard to make in later life, and at its core, Facebook is about friends.

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Uh-oh

This morning I was at my desk working on a blog post when I noticed music playing nearby. It was a little too loud, and it seemed to be coming from another room. I got up, walked to the doorway and hollered for Barbara, “That music you’re playing—where is it coming from?”

“I’m not playing music,” she answered from the back of the house.

So I looked around nearby rooms, found nothing, then returned to my desk only to discover the music coming from my computer. Uh-oh, I thought.