Posts Tagged 'elderly'

“Getting On,” A Poignant HBO Comedy about Aging & Death?

Friends, HBO has a new show, called “Getting On” about the women who care for elder women in a facility. It is a comedic drama. Has anyone seen it? Is it laughs at the expense of elders? I tried to upload the home page to see a preview and it crashed my computer, so I don’t have a review.

However, after hearing the Fresh Air interview with the creators, I now know that it is based on their experiences advocating for their mothers as they aged in institutions. And the ways in which they talked about the beauty of time spent caring for them moved me, as well as their attempts to honor the work that care workers do. And I like Molly Shannon, who is in the show. So there it is.

If you’ve seen it, I’d love to see your review!

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Amazing Elders

ImageDear readers,

My deepest apologies for the three-month hiatus. In this second year since AOW was published, I have been speaking with fantastic groups of students and elders (including design students at SU), teaching Sociology of the Life Course, and training to be a hospice volunteer. These experiences have me thinking quite a lot about living, and living well.  A recent highlight was meeting the Colgate class of 1943, all of whom are male nonagenarians (because Colgate was an all-male school at that time). The pic is Noel Rubinton, Class of 1943 President, and myself. This spunky group of six elders (all of whom traveled to Hamilton, NY for reunion weekend) reminded me how full and rich a life can be in one’s nineties. A recent story about a Martha’s Vineyard elder who makes her voice heard, reminded me of the members of this group, who can teach us how to be socially engaged in various ways. I continue to be inspired by these lives.

This blog will live on as a site in which to post updates on my own thinking about healthy aging, inspirational elders, and death and dying. I have also invited a few of my students to tell their stories, including one who has completed a semester doing hospice work in Kenya, and another currently training to be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). I look forward to featuring their stories here! Finally, I have been working on a new blog on feminist parenting, which will launch sometime this summer. Exciting prospects. Thanks all for your ongoing support!

-Meika

Happy 2013!… Am I living in the right place?

The happy new year message (via email) from Seymour in Florida, age 95, looked a lot like those he had sent before, in response to my birthday notes and on other occasions. (For AOW or regular blog readers, Seymour is the technogenarian who recently purchased an iphone.) By sentence two, he had launched into “our problems coping with increasing old age.” Sy wanted advice again, and I was having a hard time doling it out.

For years Sy and his partner have tried to figure out where to live. Their back-and-forth snowbird days were getting harder and harder, so the decision remained: Florida (“inside all summer with A/C”) OR (“cooped up all winter”) Upstate NY?  They wondered – are resources for elders better in either place? If so, they were prepared to choose one and stay there.

“Seymour wrote, “One thing is certain, at this point we definitely would like to continue to live at home. I have seen some of the assistive living places down here and even the good ones are simply human warehouses.”

Now let’s pause for a moment and reflect on this. Here we have a 95-year-old wanting to plan for his future, and thinking about his care. This is notable because we tend to hear about eldercare dilemmas from the children of elders or their caretakers. But many nonagenarians DO weigh and consider options, hire and fire, and accomplish self-care. And Seymour, who is on record as someone who “never buys green bananas,” is skilled at living in the moment AND thinking ahead.

My response to Seymour was a bit of a mishmash. I asked about specific needs and living environments. (How age-friendly are the two apartments?) I waxed on about the importance of proximity to family or close friends (people you wouldn’t mind asking for help), and then gave some examples of other resources. (A recent piece in the NYTimes, entitled “Staying Independent In Old Age with a Little Help,” gives similar examples of new-ish resources for meeting personal care needs; services like Home Instead, local non-profits dedicated to transportation services, Meals on Wheels, etc.) Then I took a risk (not wanting to offend a healthy friend) and asked which area hospital and doctors he and his partner preferred, pointing out that for better or for worse, as we age, we tend to spend more and more time at hospitals and doctors offices.

I think I ended on a theme of personal comfort, but I probably should have mentioned the fun of board games (on iphone!) like Scrabble (for all of those shut-in weather days).

I haven’t heard back from Seymour; I’m taking that to mean that he’s considering the options.

The thing is, it is difficult to plan ahead, at any age.  I don’t know where I want to live either!  But considering living environment, close connections, and care resources might help me figure it out someday.

What about you? What would it look like to be comfortable and cared for? And what would you do if you had to be indoors all winter in Upstate NY?

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The Author

Meika Loe

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