Photo by Danielle MacInnes
Lucy’s Story: Stop Procrastinating
A friend was telling me about her mother. I had known her mother much of my life. Lucy was fit, full of vim and vigor. She always had a great story and a terrific laugh. Now in her 80’s, my friend explained, her mother had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD. Living alone in the family home had become challenging for Lucy. She hated to admit it, but it had been difficult for years. Her bedroom was upstairs. With COPD, it took much more energy and time to climb the stairs at the end of the day. She had to carry groceries into the house from a long sidewalk, stopping to catch her breath before making it to the door. She loved being out in the country, but she was too far away from her children. She had been putting off doing anything about it.
Lucy was always her own person. But, she could see the writing on the wall. Her father had had COPD. It had been a harrowing decline. It terrified her to think that she might be forced to give up her independence. So, Lucy decided to sell her much loved home and move. Always a person with her own opinion, Lucy made this choice for herself. She went looking for a smaller, one level cottage in town. She found a gem close to doctors’ offices and her son’s home. Soon she became very involved with what colors to paint the new, small, living room. She became efficient in deciding what furniture to keep and what to toss. She learned a new word: downsizing.
I was astonished. The family home was like a member of the family, a place where we gathered with Lucy for holidays. “Isn’t your mother sad?” I asked. My friend nodded, but said, “No. You know, I think she is actually happy. For years, she really hasn’t had anything like this to use her creative side, to make decisions, to put her stamp on things. She just loves a project.”
Be a Realist
When we look ahead, we assume that we will know when we need to take action. We will simply do what we need to do when the time comes. It’s easier to think that way. But, denial can be costly.
In fact, when we start to age, things can happen unpredictably. Even the “Young-Old,” people who are still active, busy and independent, can have some surprises. An illness, a sprained ankle, even a little fall, can have a ripple effect on abilities and lifestyle. Not necessarily permanent, but enough to get your attention. Too often, we see that people ignore the realities of aging. They want to put off thinking that they too will grow old. Easier to think about that tomorrow. But, knowing what you do want ahead of time can be invaluable. Make your plans now. Don’t wait until you no longer have the benefit of health and confidence. You want to make your own choices about where you want to live. If you wait, it may mean that someone else will make decisions for you.
Start Your Project Now
That’s why we are suggesting a little New Year’s project for you. Start thinking early about where you want to live as you grow old. If you are in your 50’s or early 60’s, all the better! This is a great time to start putting some ideas into play.
In fact, we have a terrific new book to help motivate you with your project. Choose Your Place: Rethinking Home as You Age is full of engaging stories of real people who have made interesting choices about where and how they want to live as they age. They have decided who they want to live with. This book will give you ideas and resources to consider. And, we are hearing from early readers that it is actually a fun read!
You can read more about Choose Your Place: Rethinking Home as You Age here.