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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

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...

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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...

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Shutting Down The Planning Conversation

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Advisors, Aging Parents | Comments Off

“Despite good intentions, outdated assumptions about older clients may lead advisors to inadvertently send out the wrong message–and it is this poor signaling, not the eccentricities of aging, that proves to be a primary cause of communication setbacks. The good news is that by understanding the psychology of aging, advisors can fine-tune their communication skills to resonate with the unspoken agenda of older clients.” This is a quote from a new article I just published in the December 2014 issue of BiFocal, a Journal of...

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9 Ways to Comfort Aging Parents with Dementia

Posted by on Oct 10, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

This is a compassionate and insightful article that all caregivers of older adults should read… 9 COMFORTING THINGS A DEMENTIA CARER DREAMS...

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Three Strategies for Preserving Relationships with Older Clients

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in Advisors | Comments Off

It’s always an ambush. From Steve’s perspective, the estate settlement was going well. Beneficiary papers had been filed and trust provisions initiated. While he had worked primarily with Jim over the last 11 years on financial matters, Steve always maintained a friendly relationship with Jim’s wife, Ellen. Unfortunately, four months after Jim’s death, he received a request from Ellen to transfer the account to another advisor. No call. No email. In my 23 years of providing training programs in client communication to financial advisors, I...

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Best Possible Day

Posted by on Oct 7, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

Atul Gwande’s article “Best Possible Day” is compassionate and articulate about asking the right questions, over and over again, in a world where time is running short… Best Possible...

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Poetry and Aging Parents

Posted by on Aug 31, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

The drama of aging parents takes courage and poetry. Mark Halliday’s moving poem about the legacy of his aging parents reminds us that every life longs for a narrative, albums that celebrate the journey and comfort the hearts of those leaving as well as those left behind… Quite Frankly by Mark Halliday They got old, they got old and died. But first— okay but first they composed plangent depictions of how much they lost and how much cared about losing. Meantime their hair got thin and more thin as their shoulders went slumpy. Okay...

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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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