Life Transitions and the Sandwich Generation

One thing we all realize as we journey through life is that change is constant.  The changes can be positive or negative, and can include things like a job change, a child leaving for college, the birth of a child, starting school, graduating from school, difficulties at work, buying a house, empty nest, marriage, divorce, or death.  When only one transition hits at a time, we are typically able to concentrate and continue to function at very high levels.  However, there are times when the combination of stressors can be so overwhelming they have a serious impact on our brains’ ability to objectively cope with our lives. Consider the stressors of the Sandwich Generation.  This generation primarily encompasses those individuals aged 40-65 who find themselves caring for both their children and their aging parents.  They are essentially sandwiched between the generations; raising their children, saving for education, pursuing careers, saving for retirement and in many cases coordinating and providing for the daily care of their parents.  Because lifespans have increased, more adults have parents living well into their 80’s who Read on! →

Life and Death in Assisted Living

I recently watched a PBS special entitled “Life and Death in Assisted Living” produced by Frontline.  It focused on Assisted Living communities, specifically Emeritus Senior Living, which is the industry’s largest chain, at just over 40,000 members nationwide.  The show discussed the role assisted living plays in the lives of seniors today, the lack of regulation over this level of care, and highlighted various lawsuits against Emeritus for negligence, wrongful death and other situations. What I came away with after watching the special was the following: I had a renewed sense that the search for appropriate care as we age is neither an easy one nor is it a standardized one.  We should not be sending family members out to take tours of facilities by themselves and expecting that they can adequately assess the pros and cons of each facility.  The tours are given by sales professionals and their end goal is to sell. Care received in these facilities varies widely.  This can be due to inadequate training, insufficient staffing, wrong hires, and even the higher mandate by management to Read on! →

The Many Faces of Aging

I recently attended “The Many Faces of Aging” seminar hosted by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Council on Aging and The Ivey.  It was an extremely well attended event and had a panel of nationally recognized experts in topics of aging.  I attended initially because I am familiar with one of the speakers, Ron Manheimer, who is the retired ED of the NC Center for Creative Retirement at UNCA.   This was my first interaction with Sandra Timmerman, ED for the Metlife Mature Market Institute.  Both are nationally recognized experts in the field of aging and were wonderful sources of information and education. What I learned is that while Charlotte is not typically seen as a “destination” for retiring adults like Asheville or Pinehurst might be, there are a large number of senior adults in the city who are interested in improving their overall situation.  This search for improvement encompassed topics like finding ways to connect with other seniors, locating appropriate and enjoyable volunteer opportunities, and learning more about the community services available to enable “aging in place”.  I appreciated that the seminar Read on! →

Successful Aging

A recent article from Marketwatch talks about the concept of “successful aging” and what that looks like.  We all know those who age gracefully and look much younger than their birthdate indicates. However, is that the result of genetics or purposeful steps they took along their life’s journey?  The article suggests that we need to be doing all that we can today to stack the odds in our favor later in life.  As I look around me at those who are 10-15 years older than myself and getting ready to retire, it doesn’t take much looking to realize that the likelihood that some of them will experience “successful aging” is pretty slim.  They are overweight, inactive, and in many cases, already experiencing major health issues.  Most will tell you that they plan to change when they get some free time.  However, I would say that by waiting until their mid-60’s to begin to incorporate healthy routines into their lives, they may have already done irreversible damage. Although it is difficult to incorporate healthy habits into your life when you are Read on! →