Two months ago, I retired from my job as Director of the Behavioral Health department of The Everett Clinic. I was hired 25 years ago to start the department, and for a quarter of a century I was at the helm. It was a great job. Sure, I had my ups and downs, but I loved having the opportunity to try out different ways of providing a high quality service to our patients. During those years, I also saw patients half-time as a psychologist. I had the privilege of working with many kids in the 1990’s who became adults and then had their own children. They always thought of me as their family... Read More
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Growing older brings greater wisdom and perspective. But it also brings aches and pains that come with an aging body. When I get up in the middle of the night for a trip to the bathroom, my body is stiff and tight. I hate to think about what I might look like as I take those first few steps.
The good news is that once I get going in the morning, my body warms up, and moves more comfortably. But there’s no question about it, my flexibility, endurance, and strength is declining. This is, despite the fact, that like many North Westerners, I’m reasonably active. I like to walk and bike... Read More
Several weeks ago, I was shopping at Macy’s. I bent over to pick up something and BOING, my lower back and glutes seized up! I was bent over in pain and could barely walk. I managed to get to my car and drive home. Feeling sorry for myself, miserable, my big plans for the weekend shot—I was pretty much good for nothing.
This wasn’t my first bout of lower back pain, but this was my first acute episode in several years. What had I learned from previous occurrences? Generally, for me, these painful incidents were preceded by stress and tension.
Low back pain is one of the... Read More
This month, my honorary aunt, Anita, passed away at age 95. Sadly, she developed Alzheimer’s in her early 90’s, and her last years were spent in assisted living. She was the last of my family and friends who were members of the “greatest” generation. These men and women lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Holocaust, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. They had cores of steel. My kids and I referred to my mom and her women friends as the “amazing ladies”. And, they were. Anita was the last one standing.
Now, I am the older generation.
It’s a sobering... Read More
It takes a village to raise a child. But it also takes a village to help an elderly adult flourish during their last chapter of life. In this column, I have written frequently about my friend Tracy’s elderly mother, Dixie. She celebrated her 99th birthday on August 22nd. She died one week later, in her sleep, at the home of her son and daughter-in-law after living with them for almost 8 years.
Dixie’s story is not unusual. As an elder adult, her husband passed away years earlier in his mid-70’s, and she lived alone for some time. But as she moved into her 90’s, she was no longer... Read More
My friend, Dixie, 99 years old, is coming to the end of her life. She lives with her son and daughter-in-law who are providing hospice care for her. For the last seven years, I had lunch with Dixie and her son every week at a local restaurant. But now, she can’t leave the house or walk unassisted. She sleeps most of the day, slips in and out of awareness, and slowly, but surely her organs are shutting down. She is like a candle flame that is flickering. Yet, surrounded by loved ones in a familiar environment, she is peaceful. While not unexpected, who is ever prepared for the death of a... Read More
Joe is concerned about his 68-year-old father, Henry, who is becoming more forgetful. Henry doesn’t remember the stories that Joe tells him. But what concerns Joe the most is his father’s moodiness, irritability, and anger. He seems to be more emotional lately, and frequently says things to Joe that are hurtful. His Dad doesn’t think before he speaks! He appears very different to Joe.
Henry has a few health problems—diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. But otherwise, he’s reasonably healthy. Joe’s worried. What’s going on with his Dad?
Aging does not affect... Read More
Marie’s 75-year-old husband was losing his memory. At first, he forgot small things. But over time, it progressed to larger, more significant memory problems. He became disoriented and would get lost. A trip to the neurologist brought a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Marie and her family were devastated. But Marie had the hardest job. Day in and day out she took care of her husband who became increasingly disabled. Marie was exhausted and depressed. Not only was she losing the husband she loved and knew, her daily responsibilities of coping with his disability were overwhelming. She felt alone... Read More
When my mother was 89, she was living in her own apartment in a retirement community. She could no longer drive (she passed out at the wheel due to an episode of low blood pressure and careened into a tree. Fortunately, only the car was seriously injured). When I came to visit her, I noticed that her shelves were lined with canned soup. She sheepishly told me that most nights that’s all she was eating.
I started talking to her about moving into a local independent living center, where she would have her own apartment as well, but be able to enjoy congregate dining. The complex had... Read More
This December is a big month for me. Last weekend, Diane and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary and our 43-year relationship. On December 26th, I will turn 65 and officially become a senior citizen. These milestones are great opportunities to consider—what have I learned over these 65 years of life? What have I learned over 39 years of marriage?
I have to admit (trust me, my wife agrees!) that I’m a slow learner. It takes me a long time to really understand stuff. But once I get it, it sticks.Here is some of what I’ve learned over the years Cultivate gratitude.
I get... Read More