Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nesting behaviors of old people.

(I decided to return, just so I could cover some topics we usually don't talk about.)

We are in a rush to grow up, be independent, drive off toward our future, have all the things we have dreamed of having, grow to a perfect size, with perfect features, and live our fantasy life with a perfect mate, in a perfect house with adoring children who behave better than we did as children.

At each stage we check off the markers:
1. driver's license
2. graduation(s)
3. ideal job
4. meet and marry the girl/boy we dreamed about
5. house of our dreams
10 Retire in comfort

Soon, for most of us, the hurdles we encounter are reminders that tomorrows may not be too many.
So much of our time is dedicated to doctors' visits, surgeons' procedures, and only after these are plugged in, we may see an opening for a visit to our children out of state. I have a good friend who still has constant visits with her relatives. She lives part of the time within driving distance to each of her children and she doesn't ever miss any special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.

Each time we visit our children we have the feeling that that occasion may be the last time we can physically make that trip. Purchasing new clothes and household furnishings seem such a waste if our health continues to change the way we have lived so far.

Last year, we decided to upgrade the garden, add pots and a driveway that would accommodate a wheelchair in the front, and tall garden boxes so we didn't have to bend or get on our knees to grow food in the back yard by the lake. We have enjoyed each and every change.

Still, the  weight of that decision was immense. Were we going to live in this place so long to warrant such expenses? Would it have been more prudent to plan for a possible nursing home?  Will these extra changes enhance the value of the house to a future buyer?

We keep returning to topics such as moving closer to one or the other of our remaining children, even just moving to be closer to doctors and hospitals.

Growing old and decrepit was never a worry of mine. Any advice I received about retirement was about having lots of money, as though money was the cure for everything. According to the latest statistics we'll all outlive our money!

Unfortunately, most of us will outlive most of our faculties.


The Odd Essay said...

I can SO relate to your post today... at age 71 we have thoughts much along your own. BUT... I got an e-mail from a friend telling me that another friend... much younger than me... has been diagnosed with melanoma cancer.. not good. So.. makes me think... how many of my well thought out plans will I actually put to use? I'm beginning to think I'm like Topsy.. just grow like the weeds do.

Brian Miller said...

it is good to think on these things...and plan, while we can...change it seems is the constant...having parents that are aging as well we think about it in our own decisioning...facing even this weekend what there is to do for my grandmother...she fell again...and is doing it more often but refuses to have daily help..i dunno what we will do...her independence versus her health and faculties...

ellen abbott said...

That's the worst part I think. Our bodies outliving our minds. Once the mind goes, we should let our bodies go too. what is the point of living on with no quality of life? When we moved out here to the country house (though we are not that far out, the quality of care in this little town has much to be desired) we though we would eventually sell the city house. Now we think we might not. Now we think sometimes that we might move back to be closer to our kids (assuming of course they are still there) and closer to good medical care when we are very old.

Diane said...

My mother always told me that the golden years were were tarnished, I am only now beginning to understand what she meant. The body does not work like it used to and I am loosing too many friends to cancer. Thankfully the mind is still intact at present, and I do not feel my age in mind. You have a good week. Diane

dianefaith said...

I'm glad you decided to come back here and post and can relate. We've lived in this semi-rural area for 12 years and have considered it as our final nest. Lately, I'm not so sure. The dilemma is resurfacing.

the walking man said...

Rosaria I had never had enough time to truly plan for a retirement. By the time I had all the bills paid off I wasn't allowed to work anymore due to a few minor health issues like multiple fractures in my spine and blown out discs...maybe a fool am I but I know that my shrinking fixed income is it; and by the time I get to your age I will be living at the poverty level.

*shrug* I do not worry about it. If i am still mentally acute I and my wife will adapt and if not we won't care.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria - at least we're aware ... I try and encourage people to think forward a little - not so much for them, but for others who have to look after them or be prepared to deal with the challenges when they happen - as Brian describes.

I wouldn't have been without my mother for these last 5+ years ... even though she was bedridden she could communicate and I learnt a lot and still do, though she's gone.

I hope to remember that making sure as much is covered, so others don't have hassles over me at the end .. having no children, this is an important necessity to plan for.

I do hope you can enjoy your home and life will work out relatively easily for you ...

Cheers Hilary

Amanda Summer said...

we are force-fed these ideas in our culture, reinforced by a media built on making money from making us believe we always need the newest, biggest, fastest, best...the list goes on.

maybe it's because love, healthy living and peace of mind themselves can't be sold - only substitutes.

so glad to see you back, rosaria. your opinion and insights matter here. xo

Tabor said...

So true. We know we will become older and have to accommodate to failing bodies...but we don't really KNOW it or want to think about it or plan for it. Loss of independence is my greatest fear. I would hate having to depend on others just to get through each day.

Maggie May said...

So pleased to see you again!!!!! Thank you for the comments that you've left from time to time.

I'm lucky that we live on a bus route and there are many hospitals and all the amenities around me that I need.
What I don't have.... is a lovely view like you have. However, I think its important when ageing to be near these things, even if we don't have a lovely outlook.
Hope you blog some more.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

The Broad said...

You have so accurately described the conundrum of getting older. I feel very fortunate that we have been able to keep our base here in the UK and at the same time have a small and beautiful place in France. However, it is all dependent on my husband staying fit and healthy and he is now 71. Our UK residence is in a town and we have the luxury really of being close to shops and doctors and friends. Our rural urges are more than met by France -- and even there we are walking distance to the village. But now we are seriously thinking that we should consider selling in France -- before 'events' take over and our choices become less 'choice' and more 'needs must'.

Tom said...

Nice to see you back; hope you stick around for a while. Anyway, as the old saying goes, "People who plant trees love others besides themselves."

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I'm so glad you're back, Rosaria, and with such a timely, important post. Yes, I think when we think retirement, it is having enough money and fun and leisure and yet there's this shadow... Living in an active adult community, I'm so very aware of this. We are friends with a couple down the street who are in their mid-70's and increasingly disabled -- he with diabetic complications and immense obesity, she with cancer and kidney failure.

It makes us wonder how we will handle life if we should become disabled or demented, especially since we have no children and also no other relatives who live close (my sister is in Seattle, my brother in Bangkok, Thailand). It's sobering.

I find myself looking at ads for non-profit life care communities and wondering if one of these might make sense within the next decade.

I also find myself hoping that I'll end up with my family's mode of exiting this life -- sudden death through cardiac episode -- before losing my faculties ... but not anytime soon!

amalia said...

beautiful post
have a good life Rosaria

yaya said...

I'm reminded everyday of the aging body and mind through my work. I'm feeling it in my own body! You have worked hard your whole life. You have a beautiful home and location that you've enjoyed so far. You may have to change that in the future but would you take back the lovely times spent there? I heard my parents talk of retirement and what they would do when it came..then Dad passed away at age 56. But he lived life to the fullest and my Mom who's 86 is still living and enjoying her life even though her body is not what it used to be. I'm beginning to think that retirement planning should be how to plan your attitude and ideas if you can't have the health you want. Keeping the body as strong as you can for as long as you can is a great thought for retirement planning. Money is important but it won't buy good health.

Velva said...

Your post is a reminder that your are not guaranteed any day...Live each day to the best of your ability, and enjoy as much as possible.

Thanks for sharing.


quilterliz said...

G'day Rosaria. Great to hear from you again. Another interesting post Rosaria. I hope we get to read more. Take care. Liz...

Vagabonde said...

I am pleased that Google Reader is still working (I saw that it will stop on July 1s) so I could see that you posted again, and an important post. We just came back from a 10-day trip to Nashville and Memphis, TN, where our daughters live. They would like us to move closer to either one of them and I believe we will have to now that my husband has been diagnosed with onset Alzheimer. He cannot drive anymore and there is no one close to help us around where we now live. I hope we can still travel for a while but I don’t know for how long we will be able to. I did think that we may not have enough money to retire but once retired I did not think that one of us would be stricken with Alzheimer. So we try to be happy anyway, but sometimes it’s not easy.

My Maine Blog said...

Roasaria you have expressed the very thoughts we have almost on a daily basis now that we are "Seniors". My husband and I debate trying to hang onto our home that is so much maintenance now that the bones hurt and the body does not bend so well. Then there are those pesky home repairs that can be very costly and unaffordable when they seem to crop up out of nowhere. Some days for me the few stairs to climb to get in the door look like a mountain to me and I wonder how long will I even be able to do this. We definitely would like to be closer to our children for family celebrations and it is so difficult just watching the years go by and not even seeing our own children from one year to the next because of finances, rather lack thereof. We live in a rural area and are pretty much isolated and although we love living in the country it can be very lonely at times. I guess you could say we are not "growing old gracefully" but then I have to be thankful that I have a strong, active and healthy mind so just trying to be thankful for the little things in life. It's all a matter of learning to adapt to a whole new world of just getting by.

Unknown said...

Oh I did not know you are back at the blog at times. This is spot on. We wonder too although we have been relatively blessed with good health, a scare here and there, we wonder if or to where should we move? I do not even like to think of uprooting again, we settled here in 2005 and lots of water under the bridge since then. Excellent healthcare close by us. And our home is fairly well set up as we will leave it. Still, the wonders of retirement as you point out--and we have been blessed but will likely leave $$ behind. Other than one son (Jerry's bilogical) in CA no children. I imagined a more glorious empty nest phase than it has been.