10 Surprises Associated With Aging
By Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA
Although aging is a natural part of life, you will not give consideration to aging until your body begins to experience the effects of aging. In this youth focused culture you might get caught up with the idea of remaining young forever and fail to consideration the surprises associated with aging. Ask your grandparents about aging. My guess is they have advice and wisdom to offer about the benefits and surprises of aging. Below is a list of what you might hear:
- Aging – You may not think about your aging body on a daily bases until aches and pains surprise you and your body starts to slow down. Every system within the human body changes with age. Talk with your health care specialist about bodily changes of aging and how to remain healthy. There is no substitute for the benefits of remaining physically fit and active as you age.
- Costs of health care – Health care costs represent one of the most significant costs in retirement. The risks of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses increase significantly as you age. The more you pay attention to lifestyle and health today the more you will be able to avoid significant costs for health care as you age.
- Needing care – Independence is a value of American culture. But what happens when you age and need care? Your first thought is that you will not need care. Statistics prove differently. Plan early for potential costs of care so that you will be able to receive the care you desire and continue to life the lifestyle you dream.
- The little things – Little things eventually catch up with you. How good are you at maintaining your car? Do you attend to regular oil changes, new tires when needed and suggested ongoing maintenance? In the disposable society of today cars are bought and sold every day. Yet if one takes proper care, a well maintained automobile will serve for 10 years or more. Your body is the same. If you ignore proper care and maintenance you will experience ongoing issues. The only difference between your car and your body is that your body cannot be traded in for a new model.
- Attics, basements and landfills– Do you really need all that stuff that accumulating in your attic and basement? Are there family members who might be able to use the items that you no longer use or of which you have tired? Refuse to contribute to landfills. Donate and give away items you no longer use. Set a time frame for giving away. If you have not used an item in six months share it with others.
- Dream home – Did you purchase or build the ultimate home for you and your family? What works at one point in life no longer serves in another. The beauty, size and location may be fabulous. Has the home become impractical with age as the upkeep and maintenance is more work or expense than you desire? Never be afraid to downsize to a more practical living arrangement. Simplification offers magical benefits to enjoy life and relationships rather than a continued focus on effort to maintain belongings.
- How did this happen? – Becoming a caregiver is the greatest unexpected event in life. Parents never discuss caregiving with young children even though they may be caregivers for their parents. When the health of parent’s fail and you receive the call, accepting the role of a caregiver is a surprise that will change your life. Seek help and advice from professionals who will provide support, options and advice.
- Giving up the car keys – Being told you should no longer drive is a life changer. How will you participate in the usual activities of life like grocery shopping, attending appointments and participating in social events? Research public and related transportation options. Consider moving to a retirement community where transportation is provided. Giving up the keys does not have to be the end of participation in life and enjoyable activities.
- Family at a distance – Years ago family was born and lived in the same town for generations. Today this is no longer the norm. What happens when children move away from parents and support and assistance is needed due to changes in health? Are you prepared to move to live near your children? Will your children move nearer to you? There are times when moving is simply impractical. This is the unexpected dilemma of aging and of needing care.
- Saying exactly what you think – Wisdom gained by age can be surprising. I know of older adults who say it like it is without fear. The ability to express opinions in a positive manner is a learned skill. Listen to your elders; the wisdom they offer can be invaluable and fascinating.
Aging is part of life. Being aware of the unexpected will help you prepare so that surprises can be managed rather than having a significant or negative affect on your life. By becoming aware of all of the support services available you will reduce stress about the role of becoming a caregiver and will be able to access services to support aging parents.
© 2012, 2013 Pamela D. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.