Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Agenda Of The Elderly

"Old age ain't no place for sissies." ~ Bette Davis.

I recently attended a presentation by David Solie, who wrote the book HOW TO SAY IT to Seniors. In his talk, he noted that the elderly have agendas that are very different from those that are younger. While the agenda of younger people is primarily success (in business, career, etc.), the agenda for seniors is much different and focuses on two areas:

  • Maintaining control. As one ages, one begins losing capability to do tasks that once were routine. As physical, financial, and maintenance tasks become more difficult, others offer to do them, with good intentions of helping. However, often the interaction becomes a frustrating battle, with the older person resisting and the younger person pushing.

    In addition, one loses the social networks that were established over lifetime as family and friends pass away.

  • Creating a legacy. Older people are more reflective, using social interactions as an opportunity to review their lives, searching for meaning in what they have done. In addition, there is a desire to create the legacy by which they will be remembered.

  • Mr. Solie's point is that understanding these two agenda items of the elderly can significantly how one communicates with them. I could relate well to these points that Mr. Solie shared, based on my experience with my parents.

    Over the past 10 years, I noticed how my parents weren't as quick to do everything they once had done, ranging from routine daily tasks to unfamiliar new tasks. My dad who was a do-it-yourselfer all his life, was letting minor repairs go undone. My mom was taking 2, 3 and even 5 times longer to keep her house clean, which she passionately did all her life. Neither of them wanted to "outsource" work that they had done for years, whether it be tax preparation or yard work. I used to think it was because of cost, and now I realize it was to avoid loss of control. I understand better now why my mom initially refused to go to assisted living, even though she loved after going there.

    As my parent passed their sixties, the number of friends and siblings began decreasing at a faster rate. When my father passed away two years ago, less that half of his 12 siblings were still alive and only long time friends were remaining. All of my mom's long time friends and about half of her eight siblings have passed away. None were able to make it to his funeral due to distance and declining health.

    As for legacy, I didn't have the benefit of Mr. Solie's insights before my father passed away. However, in hindsight, my dad was able to create and share the legacy he wanted with us. I will always remember him as doing what was best for his family. Even during the extended illness from which he died, he spent most of his remaining time making sure everything would be OK for his family, especially my mother. I can even see this principle driver in the stories my uncle has told me about my father's youth.

    Fortunately, I still have time with my mom to talk to her about her life and to discover her legacy. I look forward to the time with her.

    For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

    This is not financial or family advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2008 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for participating in this week's Carnival of Family Life by contributing this post! The Carnival is at ice cream is not for breakfast this week and will be live on Monday, May 19, 2008, so drop by and check out some of the other excellent articles included in this edition!