Talking About Aging- 5 Steps to Starting the Conversation

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. May 07, 2016

Talking About Aging- 5 Steps to Starting the Conversation

Who starts? What do you say? How do you say it? Thirty million Americans are getting older at the same time. And few want to admit it or talk about it. Who starts the discussion? And how?

Did you know that the average person over 50 considers himself or herself to be 20 years younger than their chronological age? We are exposed to countless media messages that glamorize youth and mock aging. No wonder all of us seemingly have a hard time admitting that we are getting older.

And what’s the harm? Well – denial and delusion carry their own weights. Of course, if you have been visiting this website for a while – you know another answer. The harm is that as we age, unless we recognize our mental and physical changes, we may find ourselves unprepared and unequipped to deal with issues (including safety hazards) that arise during what could be the most enjoyable phase of life.

It’s time to embrace aging. As they say, think about the alternative.

Before others are forced to make decisions for you, I would suggest the following steps:

  1. Get to know your own desires. You realize that you are not going to physically live forever, what do you want to do with your remaining time? If I can suggest one book for you to read – it would be Don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements. This will help you as you get ready to talk with loved ones about the future to (a) not take anything personally and (b) not make assumptions. I am encouraging you to recognize aging as a gift and treat it as such. Write down what you want and do not want.
  1. Bring up the subject of aging with your loved ones. If you are married – start with your spouse. Ask her or him to get to know their own desires and look for similarities and differences. Do not take anything personally. Do not make assumptions. Listen to others. Listen to yourself. And review your desires.
  1. Let your desires be known. Do you want more time with your loved ones? Do you want to travel? Should you modify your home or move? What happens if you become incapacitated?
  1. Learn about aging. We offer a lot of books and videos on this website. Consult them.
  1. Devote your attention to others. Forgive yourself. Forgive them. Let the past go. Enjoy the moment.

In essence, you (the senior) should be the one who talks to your loved ones about aging. Share your desires. Ask what your loved ones desire. Do it with love and forgiveness. Make it fun. Keep it light.

We do not need to make assumptions when we learn what others think and desire.

We do not take anything personally when we understand that each of us is doing the best that we can.

So tomorrow, begin the process and before long talk with a loved one about aging. “You know, I’m not getting any younger. I was thinking that I would like to ... What do you think?”

Don’t wait too long. It’s your life and it would be a shame to miss out on the best part – giving more to yourself and to those you love.

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Caveat … So your parents do not heed this advice. I encourage you to read some of the books in our book section to help you help them open up about aging. Your parents would benefit from the books, too.

Waterman, Jane Wolf. Oh My God! We’re Parenting Our Parents.

Hopker, Patty. Senior Satisfaction Revealed.

Ruiz, Don Miguel. The Four Agreements.

 *Note: Fall prevention efforts can reduce the risk of falling. Caregivers and older homeowners can become knowledgeable about what needs to be done to make homes as fall-proof as possible. Check here often and search for product ideas that can make you safer in your home!




Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.

Author

Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.