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Observations and commentary on aging, caregiving, and the complex journey through the second half of life.

Second-Half of Life Blog

Connecting with the Developmental Tasks of Middle Age

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 in Boomers, Middle Age | Comments Off

Building rapport with middle age clients requires a balance between collaboration and advisory. The goal is to resonate with the tasks. The temptation is to over emphasize advisory by focusing on traditional milestones as an on ramp for planning conversations. While milestones such as retirement remain important, they are a poor starting point for middle age adults. Instead of being proactive, they come across as unwanted advice that can quickly provoke discomfort or out right resistance. A more effective strategy is to lead with a topic that...

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Caregiver Conflict and Poor Outcomes

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

This article about conflict with family and friends isn’t directed specifically at caregivers but it should be: Common Form of Expression Doubles Risk of Death Here is what they found: “The researchers estimated that that a participant’s risk of death increased by 50 to 100 percent when children or partners caused frequent worry or made excessive demands. When the researchers then studied how arguing frequently impacted the participant’s mortality, they found that when participants argued frequently with anyone in their social...

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The Developmental Agenda of Middle Age

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Boomers, Middle Age | Comments Off

The primary developmental theme of the middle years is an emerging crisis. Rather than a sudden occurrence, it is an incipient shift in complexity and tone. As such, the middle years usher in a higher state of volatility as a list of daunting tasks arrive that soon leaves little time to plan, resolve, or recuperate. Externally the seminal event is usually sickness or death in the family, but it can also involve major upheavals with children, careers, and core relationships. Up to the early forties, the business of building a career, raising...

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Beyond Loss: Grief vs Major Depression

Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

With aging comes the loss of those who mean the most to us. There is no way to prepare for it. We are ambushed and swept away into grief and suffering. After some period of time, we slowly, unevenly crawl back to shore and regain our footing in the world. We are wounded but find a way to carry on. But not always. Sometimes we are lost at sea and can’t make it back. What others see as severe grief is really major depression, a condition that time cannot make better. How do we know what’s normal grief and when we have taken a turn...

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Caregiver Playlist

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

Below are the selections that make up the “Kind To Your Heart” playlist, a 40-minute mix of songs and instrumentals. The song’s lyrics give voice to the emotional challenges of caregiving. They also spell out the courage and profound love that flows amid the turbulence and messy outcomes. The instrumentals offer a meditative transition between the songs, a space to exhale and let go, and to remember the bigger story that surrounds even the most difficult moments… Can’t Go Back Now—The Weepies—A fitting opening in which transformational...

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The Medical Journey of Aging Parents

Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

We are not bystanders to the medical journey of our aging parents. No matter how daunting the language or specter of healthcare, we are obligated, to the best of our ability, to try and understand what we are being told and what’s in their best interest. This means we need the courage to question treatments and procedures that are not supported by medical evidence, duplicate other tests or procedures already done, may cause harm, and aren’t truly necessary. Below is a link from the American Geriatrics Society that offers ten examples...

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The Social Fabric of Aging Parents

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

Preserving and nurturing social connections is vital to the well being of older adults. Families need to understand the scope and depth of an aging parent’s social network so they can coordinate their efforts to protect and support it. That is why we created the Social Fabric Mind Map. The Social Fabric Mind Map offers families a one page diagram of activities and connections. Once completed, it helps families sustain the social fabric in four ways: It reduces the burden and risks of not knowing the big picture. The Social Fabric Mind Map...

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Grandma Knutsen

Posted by on Mar 2, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

This is my wonderful Grandma Knutsen who immigrated to America in 1892 from Norway. She was “processed” through Ellis Island on her way to the “new” Norway, Minnesota. God rest her heroic soul…

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When Aging Parents Move In…

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

The desire to do the right thing begins with good intentions. Sometimes that is enough, but in most cases the burden of caregiving requires adjustments in perspective, language and behavior. While the predictable dilemmas of aging are unavoidable, understanding the psychological dynamics of “in-home” care can help both generations reduce the stress of cohabitation. It’s important to remember that having aging parents move in is a social experiment both literally and historically. The communal scaffolding of the past, close knit families...

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Caregiver Support Lessons…

Posted by on Feb 12, 2014 in Aging Parents | 3 comments

Last fall, I started a caregiver’s support group. The goal was to offer a non-judgmental setting for adult children to share their stories. While being the facilitator, my real job was arranging chairs and making sure everyone had a turn to speak. This was the first insight. Given the opportunity, caregivers have a lot to say. The drama of aging parents is consumptive and complex. Caregivers are exhausted by endless tasks and wind up isolated. They rarely talk with a group of people who not only want to hear their stories but have deep...

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