As I Get Older

elderly-couple-holding-grandkids

Thanks to my many readers who expressed birthday greetings and anniversary congratulations last week. Your expressions of love are sincerely appreciated. The years go by quickly!

In that regard I recently saw the following observations titled As I Get Older:

#1  –  I talk to myself, because there are times I need expert advice.
#2  –  I consider “trendy” to be the clothes that still fit.
#3  –  I don’t need anger management. I just need people to stop ticking me off.
#4  –  My people skills are just fine. It’s my tolerance for numskulls that needs work.
#5  –  The biggest lie I tell myself is, “I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember it.”
#6  –  I have days when my life is just a tent away from a circus.
#7  –  These days “on time” is when I get there.
#8  –  Even duct tape can’t fix stupid, but it sure does muffle the sound.
#9  –  Lately, I’ve noticed people my age are so much older than me.
#10 – When I was a child, I thought nap time was punishment. Now it’s a mini vacation.
#11 – I thought growing old would take longer.
#12 – Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could put ourselves in the dryer for ten minutes, then come out wrinkle-free and three sizes smaller?

Some of those observations are accurate. Others are gross exaggerations. One not mentioned above is that sometimes we procrastinate on responsibilities that need attention.

In my current vocational calling I discover that folks of all ages, including men and women my age or better, keep postponing preparation of important legal and practical documents that need to be taken care of. I’m thinking especially of a Last Will and Testament.

Also important are powers of attorney for finances and health care; a list of assets, liabilities, account numbers, and passwords; information and plans for our funeral service.

Some folks put off taking care of these things because they simply don’t want to admit that one day those documents will really come in handy for a surviving spouse and family. Or they just don’t want to think about the reality of death. Here’s the truth: Death happens!

We at Legacy Deo can assist you with these important matters. Go to http://www.LegacyDeo.org or email me at GBJK@LegacyDeo.org. You’ll be glad you did … especially as you get older!

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Aging

Elderly

Today’s quotes:

“It is not by the gray of the hair that one knows the age of the heart.”
– Edward R. Bulwer-Lytton

“To be 70 years young is sometime far more cheerful and hopeful than to be 40 years old.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

This week Terry and I are attending a conference on aging. We’re spending three days with a number of pastors and their spouses, all within a few years of my age. Some are a bit younger but all of us are at or near the three score plus ten number.

Most people who reach that age have experienced their share of joys and sorrows, victories and defeats, difficulties and blessings. That’s the stuff of which life is made.

Sorrows, defeats, and difficulties tend to accelerate the aging process, sometimes leading to pessimism, depression, or despair. Joys, victories, and blessings often delay the obvious signs of age and produce a greater sense of optimism, appreciation, and generosity.

Physical health, emotional wellbeing, and spiritual maturity are very significant factors in the onset, delay, and effect of the aging process. Those qualities matter at all times, especially in the last quarter of life, particularly for those who may already have heard the two minute warning.

Regardless of your age or attitude toward life, consider God’s message to the people of Israel through the prophet Isaiah: “Even when you’re old, I’ll take care of you. Even when your hair turns gray, I’ll support you.” Is. 46:4

Here’s to happy and graceful aging!

The Red Book

Red BookCaring for an aging parent responsibly includes helping your loved one take care of important life matters. It’s easier to do so while that loved one is still living. In a family, often one specific person takes care of all financial responsibilities. Caring for an aging parent responsibly includes helping your loved one take care of important life matters. It’s easier to do so while that loved one is still living. In a family, often one specific person takes care of all financial responsibilities.

In that case, or if a person lives alone, a “Red Book” containing critical personal and financial data can assist the spouse, child or financial advisor in handling important matters after the person’s death. Former Lutheran Foundation of Texas Board Chairman Herb Noack wrote an article titled “Where’s the Red Book?” Herb states this valuable tool should contain:

  • Location of bank accounts and safe deposit box, with shared access permission to both
  • Any long term charitable commitments, including testamentary gifts or remainder trusts
  • Location of signed, witnessed, notarized Will, Power of Attorney, and Medical Powers
  • List of retirement, 401 (k), 403 (b), IRAs, annuities, pensions and brokerage accounts
  • Favorite Scripture passages, hymns, names of pall bearers and other funeral details
  • Name and telephone numbers for Attorney, CPA, Doctor(s) and Insurance Agent(s)
  • Updated, detailed list of all assets and liabilities with location and legal name
  • Contact info, user names, account numbers, etc., for all accounts
  • Location of vehicle titles and deed to home or other real property
  • Name of preferred mortuary and location of cemetery and plat
  • List of insurance policies (life, auto, long term care, home)
  • Birth, confirmation and marriage certificates, if available
  • Location of tax returns and tax information
  • User name and password for computer
  • Copy of driver’s license and passport
  • List of credit and debit cards

Once created, it is vital to keep the Red Book updated (at least annually) and in a safe place. Because electronic information may be destroyed if your computer crashes or is infected with a virus, electronic and hard copy backup information should always be created and kept in a safe place. Be sure to tell the individual who will be handling your or your loved one’s personal affairs that a Red Book exists and where it is located.

Larry Ohls, LFOT CEO, says: “It’s the easiest thing in the world to put off doing things like this. But if you wait one second too long, it’s the hardest thing in the world from which to recover.”

For assistance with these matters, go to http://www.LFOT.org and click on “Resources.” Taking these steps now will provide peace of mind for you today and blessing for your loved ones in the future.

Caring for Aging Parents

Elderly 1While that’s a topic not entirely new to Terry and to me, we’re certainly no experts. Her father, mother and stepfather passed away a few years ago. Her mother died after hospitalization from an auto accident, although she had previously spent some time in assisted living. Neither Terry’s father nor stepfather required long term care beyond the capacity of family and very close friends to provide. Yet the care family and friends did provide was both physically and emotionally demanding.

My father passed away over 33 years ago. Although he died at home, the time and energy Mom spent caring for him was very likely more consuming than any of us children might have imagined at the time. We weren’t there all the time. Mother was there, lovingly caring for her husband, watching him gradually slip away, leaving her and our family at the relatively tender age of 66 years.

As mentioned in a previous article, almost three weeks ago Mother moved to assisted living. She’s gradually making the adjustment, which may never be totally complete. Yet she knows she can’t care for herself and can no longer live alone, as she had since Daddy’s passing. She also knows her family can’t provide the almost constant care her significantly weakened condition demands.

She’s taking it one day at a time. So are the rest of us, including my sisters Carol (her husband Jerry is deceased), Karen and her husband Mel, Debbie and her husband Curtis, Terry and yours truly. From longer distances but nevertheless watching closely and praying fervently are Mother’s twelve grandchildren plus nine spouses; 22 great grandchildren plus two spouses; and three great great grandchildren (one deceased). Granny is dearly loved!

So how do loved ones care for an aging parent or grandparent or other beloved family member or friend? Last week I asked my readers for suggested answers to that question. Here are some of the responses I received:

  • Have patience! Lord willing, we will all live long enough to be in their position one day. I’ll want the love and respect of my family, not their sharp tongues and rolling eyes and all the ways children might express exasperation for a parent not hearing or not remembering.
  • If a parent has dementia or one of its many forms, whatever they say or do is not really “them” but the disease they have talking through them. Remember how they were when your parents were loving you and caring for you and supporting you. Display that same love for them by returning those feelings. It will make a world of difference!
  • Each offspring plays one of two roles. You are either the caregiver or the nurturer of the caregiver. This means all the children must work together and help the designated caregiver and the caregiver must work with the others. Harmony among family members is key in these situations for the whole family.
  • Spend time visiting, visiting, visiting, and listening, listening, listening.

In Mother’s case, Terry and I live too far away to make everyday visits feasible. Thankfully, Sisters Carol and Karen live close enough to Mom’s new address to visit her in person frequently. Sister Debbie lives in Little Rock but stays in phone contact every day and visits in person when she can. Terry and I visit Mother as often as possible, so far once each week. All of us call Mom frequently and hold her in our prayers daily.

In addition, Mother’s countless community friends, neighbors, fellow members of Cross Lutheran Church and Pastor Don Fraker also visit and communicate with her in many ways. And the wonderful folks at her assisted living facility are attentive to her needs in ways that transcend the care our family would be able to provide.

What are the factors to consider in caring for aging parents?

  • If they live at home, do what you can to make their lives safe, secure and comfortable.
  • Whether you live nearby or far away, continue to stay in touch with them frequently.
  • If the demands of their physical or emotional condition are beyond your ability to manage, investigate the alternatives for in home care, assisted living or nursing home care, as needed.
  • Do your best to see that their physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met.
  • Remember to assure them of your constant love and fervent prayers.

Here’s what I wrote to Mother’s extended family earlier this week: “Anything we’ve considered is done with Granny’s involvement and consent and with her best interest at heart. God only knows how long she will be here with us on earth. While occasionally commenting that her new apartment is not her home, she also says she realizes that this is where she needs to be at this time in her life. She knows, like each of us, that she’s but a stranger here on earth and heaven is her home.

Next week I’ll address some of the important financial matters that need attention in caring for aging parents. Stay tuned!

Another Move

House 1Not long ago Terry and I counted the number of times we’ve moved since our marriage on January 29, 1966, which was also my 23rd birthday. But I digress. The number we counted at that time was 15. Earlier this week, that number climbed to 16.

A few of our close friends and colleagues knew before the move occurred. We didn’t know exactly where we were going to end up, so we spoke in general terms to them and many others who had heard the rumor. To all who inquired we emphasized the primary reason for this move—to eliminate the beautiful but rapidly becoming onerous winding stairway with 18 steps.

Terry and I considered the reality that someday I might not be able to climb those steps to get to my study. In addition, many of the folks who come to our home for an overnight stay are close to or even beyond my age. That generates concerns for their stairway safety and, in some cases, creates impenetrable barriers to their access to our guest rooms, all upstairs.

Of course, we have liability insurance, which we hope will never be used. Oh, one more thing— I’m often the one who ends up carrying our guests’ 40-pound luggage up and down the stairs, which is always happily done, yet somewhat cumbersome, to say the least!

Not yet having succeeded in finding a home that meets our needs, we are temporarily ensconced in a very nice, significantly smaller, fairly new, single story rental home, awaiting clarity on move #17. We anticipate that will occur next spring.

Those who have moved recently enough to remember can testify that the process is always interesting, sometimes traumatic, often exciting. This move for us, and the one to follow, is a strange mixture of all these emotions. Perhaps I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, tiring and testing though it has been, this move, like most of the others, has generated within us a strange sense of calling. That includes the clear hand of God in the selling of our previous home and the purchase of the new one yet to come. We’re excited to see how it all turns out, clearly convinced that home is where the heart is and where God is honored!

Cranky Old Man

Old Man 1From Facebook: When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed he had nothing left of any value. Later, the nurses went through his meager possessions and found this poem. It so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took it to Melbourne. It later appeared in magazines across the continent and now wings its way around the world over the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see, nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes.
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply,
When you say in a loud voice, ‘I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a sock or a shoe.
Who, resisting or not lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another.
A young boy of Sixteen, with wings on his feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide, a secure happy home.
A young man of Thirty, my kids now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
My wife still beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my wife is now dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young ones of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.
And now I’m an old man and nature is cruel,
Its jest is to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now just a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young man still dwells,
And now and again my old battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people, open and see:
Not a cranky old man,
Look closer! See ME!!

I’m reminded of Psalm 103 (selected verses):

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the LORD, O my soul!

 

Remember this poem and this Psalm when you next meet an older person whom you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. By God’s grace we will all one day be there, too!