Pages Navigation Menu

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

Second-Half of Life Blog

No Longer Safe To Drive

Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

At some point it becomes painfully obvious. Maybe it’s the near misses, another fender bender, traffic tickets, getting lost on errands, poor night vision, or increasing confusion. Whatever the mix of warning signs, the message is clear and deeply concerning. An aging parent is no longer safe to drive, and something has to be done about it. Statistics confirm the urgency to act. Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among 65 to 74 year olds and are the second leading cause (after falls) among 75 to 84 year...

read more

When Everything Falls Apart

Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity…….Socrates The world of aging parents is a complex system. This is not simply a scientific observation; it is a critical point that most of us gloss over on the way to getting things done. Not fully appreciating the nature of complex systems can crush expectations and implode the best intentions. Complex systems are based on immutable laws. One that is especially significant to adult children and their aging...

read more

Poetry and Aging Parents, Part 3

Posted by on Jan 25, 2015 in Aging Parents, Boomers, Middle Age, Poetry | Comments Off

The loss of an aging parent is not an isolated event. Rather, their passing is part of the thinning social fabric of middle age and beyond. Siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins friends, associates and casual acquaintances all start to take their leave, so many quietly gone, so many to remember. Alan Shapiro’s poem Wherever My Dead Go When I’m Not Remembering Them conjures up the world of these departed souls who search to find those who remember them and why… Wherever My Dead Go When I’m Not Remembering Them By Alan Shapiro Not gone, not...

read more

Conversations Near the End Mind Map

Posted by on Jan 10, 2015 in Aging Parents, Boomers, Middle Age | Comments Off

This is the companion mind map for the article Conversations at the End

read more

Conversations at the End…

Posted by on Jan 8, 2015 in Aging Parents, Boomers, Middle Age | Comments Off

We wish it didn’t come to this, but it does. Someone you care about is at the end of their life. No one knows exactly when but everyone is clear about what’s happening. Now comes the hard part, the conversations that occur before they’re gone. What do you say to those who are leaving? How do you avoid stumbling into uninvited pep talks, dismissive assurances, awkward displays of grief, or embarrassing cliches? Maybe you don’t. None of us are really prepared for conversations near the end. Our emotional vulnerability alone leaves us at a loss...

read more

Poetry and Adult Children, Part 2

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Aging Parents, Middle Age, Poetry | Comments Off

We adult children look at aging and say no thanks, not for me, best to keep a safe distance. But aging is patient, biding its time, confident of its purpose. From seemingly nowhere, our safe distance collapses and a new truth emerges. This mutative moment haunts Carol Bialock’s magnificent poem Breathing Underwater, an intergenerational elegy to what this does to all of us… Breathing Underwater By Carol Bialock I built my house by the sea. Not on the sands, mind you, not on the shifting sand. And I built it of rock. A strong house...

read more

Why Doctors Die Differently…

Posted by on Jan 2, 2015 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

As a clinician, this Wall Street Journal article echoes my own views on dying, ones that are in my health directive. Maybe its the medical knowing, seeing all too often how a promise of “more time” turns out poorly. While I deeply appreciate and respect modern medicine’s desire to fight to the end, I lean, like the doctors in this article, towards “being comfortable and in control, having a sense of closure, making the most of relationships and having family involved in care.” When it’s over, gently and...

read more

Poetry and Adult Children

Posted by on Dec 28, 2014 in Boomers, Middle Age, Poetry | Comments Off

Moving through middle age is a polyphasic lightening round of commingled dilemmas. No one captures the tone and pace of this developmental tango better than Jeanne Marie Beaumont in her poem Afraid So. Afraid So By Jeanne Marie Beaumont Is it starting to rain? Did the check bounce? Are we out of coffee? Is this going to hurt? Could you lose your job? Did the glass break? Was the baggage misrouted? Will this go on my record? Are you missing much money? Was anyone injured? Is the traffic heavy? Do I have to remove my clothes? Will it leave a...

read more

Dearest Son, Dearest Daughter…

Posted by on Dec 17, 2014 in Advisors, Aging Parents, Boomers | Comments Off

I wrote How To Say It To Seniors for adult children of aging parents as well as professionals who work with older adults. In retrospect, that was short sighted. What I failed to appreciate was that older adults were deeply interested in the psychology of their stage of life. They bristled against simply being a project or problem for their children to figure out. When I finally realized this, I started giving copies of the book to older adults along with a simple question. “Does this ring true to what you are experiencing?” The...

read more

Poetry and Aging Parents, Part 2

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

We back into life review on the path to the end. Dana Gioia moving poem The Lost Garden captures the cognitive melody of recalling who and what has come to define us as well as the wisdom of “wanting nothing more than what has been.” The Lost Garden by Dana Gioia If ever we see those gardens again, The summer will be gone—at least our summer. Some other mockingbird will concertize Among the mulberries, and other vines Will climb the high brick wall to disappear. How many footpaths crossed the old estate— The gracious acreage of a...

read more