Reflections on Aging Well

Author, Living with Purpose in a Worn-out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults (Upper Room) and Columnist, Aging Well, United Methodist Reporter

Wake up, middle-agers! September 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 7:56 am

On Saturday at my church’s “Loving your Aging Parent” seminar, I was approached by an older woman who had attended the one-day event by herself. I had not met her before, but I could sense that she had something important to share with me.

Finally she said, “My grown kids wouldn’t come to this seminar, but I came anyway.” I could see the hurt on her face.

I reassured her that we were thrilled she had come, with or without her adult children. Silently I wondered if her children lived in another community or if they had other commitments that prohibited them from attending. Then as if she could read my mind, the older woman added, “They live only a mile away, but they just didn’t think that it was all that important for them to come, even though I asked.”

I recognized her familiar story. Many adult children are resistant to hearing about the challenges of aging. Older parents often tell me that their children change the subject when they try to talk about their future and end-of-life issues.

Just minutes after hugging the older woman, I chatted with two middle-aged women who had also come to the seminar. I was surprised to learn that their parents had died a few years before. They thanked me for hosting the event, then said,
“We found out the hard way about what happens when you refuse to talk with your parents about aging.  We came because we want to gather information so we will be better prepared for our own aging journey.”

A short time later, my heart was tendered to see the middle-aged women talking with the older woman who had come alone to the event. Somehow I just felt better knowing that God was at work in their midst.

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Meeting God in a taxi cab September 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 9:10 am

This morning, a taxi driver picked me up at the retirement community where I spoke to residents last night. He asked me where I was from and what I was doing in Des Moines. When I explained that I write books for older adults and often speak to residents of retirement communities, he broke into a big grin.  Turns out he had seen my books and had remembered the “Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body” title. 

He continued to tell me about elderly residents he picks up weekly just so they can enjoy the outside world.  Sometimes they don’t have a particular destination… they just want to get out and about. Turns out he also regularly visits several older adults in one of the centers and has an obvious compassion for them. He told me about one 93 year-old man who often comes down to meet the taxi without his cane or his hearing aids. The driver said he reminds the older man that he needs his cane and his hearing aid, then waits patiently while he goes back upstairs to get them. 

The ride to the airport seemed to fly by. As the driver took my bag from the trunk, we shared a farewell. I knew I had glimpsed God at work in the life of a taxi driver.

 

Surely the presence of the Lord September 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 6:45 am

Last night I was the speaker for an Alzheimer’s support group that meets at my church. It was a casual setting with people sitting around tables.  I knew only two people, both members of my church. The rest had driven from places near and far. Some had rushed from work and were still catching their breaths.

Since several were new to the group, the facilitator asked each person to give a brief introduction and tell about their situation. One couple was caring for family members who lived in a town almost 100 miles away. There was an older man whose wife was in a nearby memory care facility. An older woman who had cared for her mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s had recently discovered that her husband now has the disease. One of the newcomers had just received the news of her husband’s diagnosis. There were others who were struggling with the guilt of placing a loved one in a skilled nursing facility.

I listened to their stories and thought about their challenging season of life. No matter where their loved one was in the memory-loss process, these caregiver/ family members had deep feelings and very full plates. I reminded them that, like their loved ones, they were on a spiritual journey.

You could feel God’s presence as these people, including those who had come for the first time, shared tears and laughter. It reminded me once again that life’s journey is sometimes hard. Very hard. But God’s grace is always enough to meet the challenge and get us through.