Saturday, September 19, 2015

Aging Pagan; Our Personal Autumn Equinox

To Jim

In the spirit of the upcoming Equinox, I feel it's time to talk about age and death. For fourteen years I have worked in health care, some of that time as an EMT, but mostly as a Home Health Aide. I'm not a doctor, nurse or lawyer. What I'm is a witness. I'm there when the nurse leaves, in the patients home, where few doctors venture. I have seen courage and fear. The stories I could tell you could equally break your heart or inspire a greeting card. I'm here merely to give my personal advice and strongly suggest you seek your own legal counsel. I share with you some suggestions, as well address concerns. Please use both knowledge and free will.

1. Some wise advice from his holiness the Dahai Lama.

This holds true, especially for those who suffer from conditions that affects memory. Don't live with regrets, make amends if you can and patch up damaged relationships. Be kind and thoughtful as often as you can. Your fancy toys won't fit in your hospital room, but images of your past will dance in your head. Make those memories special. Remember kisses, hugs, sun rises/ sets, butterfly's, songs, good cheers, merriment. Let go of your arguments, disappointments, scratches on pride and low point's.

2. Please heal past traumas.  I can not stress this enough. An elderly person I knew witnessed the sexual assault of a friend, both were very young at the time. This resulted in many nightmares and as the patients mind deteriorated she relived the experience unable to understand this was no longer a threat.

3. Study the effects of advance aging, as well as your families medical history. Make the decisions of what you are willing to go through and what you are not. Seek legal counsel, realize DNRs (Do Not Resuscitate) only prevent medical professionals from any attempts of restarting the heart, they will often go to great lengths from preventing the organ from stopping.  I suggest you not stop with documents,  but video record your feeling's on this issue. This means brainstorming on some of the most horrific of situations. As difficult as this may be, its far worse being in these situations without your wishes honored.

4. Be kind to the young. To your children or younger family members, never forget these will be the people determining what happens to you and your estates. The children of today will be your caretaker's and world leader's when you become more vulnerable. Think about the world you leave behind.

5. Obviously, eat right and exercise, but stay mentally active as well. Do that crossword puzzle while you eat your yogurt and drink coffee without sugar. Socialise, date and be sexually active. Find some social hobbies and take on several. As an able body person, you may want to start a program that encourages others with physical limitations to be physically active. You never know, you could one day be benefiting from the gifts you gave others. So volunteer at the hospital, make crafts, fix old cars, learn a new language, take a class, play on a team, dance even with just your eyes.

6. Celebrate age. Crown yourself the Crone or the Wise one. Own your age and be the person you want to be. Enjoy your free time and appreciate the wisdom you have gained. Believe it or not it will serve you better than youth.

7. Remember, just because you're retired doesn't mean everyone else has stopped working. All your free time could consume you and lead to feelings of neglect. If you want to be closer to your family, try to get to know them and find an interest you could share. You may not fully understand the newer generation, doesn't mean you can not connect in some way. Be a friend. Please don't forget how difficult life can be. Understand life's circumstances when frustrated by youth.

8. Determine your final interment and the details of your last ceremony.  Following religious and spiritual customs tends to make the transition more peaceful. You don't have to follow the traditional route of a funeral home, Death Doula's are an option in most if the USA. Pagan funeral options are also becoming more available. Military Viking Funeral.

9. Assistant living facilities and nursing homes hate change! Some have not adjusted to the fact most of their residents grew up with rock and roll. A music once despised by the generation before. They are also of the mindset of pushing Christianity onto their residents. Too often a prayer said by the director ends "in Jesus name." Offensive to pagans, atheist. Jews, Muslims and other ideas outside this one religion. This is not the time to be intimidated or weak. Stand up for your rights.

10. Know when to stop driving. As we age, our sight goes, our mind may wander, we might nap randomly, all serious dangers while we drive. Please, you don't want to be responsible for the death of another person, know when to let go. Its often better for seniors to live where there is decent public transportation.

11. Down size! You don't want to waste your energy cleaning a big empty house. Stairs are lovely, but are your enemy! Trust me! You might want to consider an apartment or condo over an entire house. When looking for a final home, you want to consider a few things.
You have to think ahead.
A. Where's the closes hospital and do you like it?
B. What access to public transportation is there available? Just because you can drive now, doesn't mean you will in the future.
C. How close are there stores for food, clothing and other area's? Are there dangerous roads, intersections, insufficient space for safe travel by walking or wheelchair?
E. Home maintenance coverage, utilities and security coverage.
F. Activities to do in the community.
G. Avoid stairs!  Your knees will thank me.  Also don't go with narrow hallways, doors and rooms. Make sure to look for big bathrooms with spacious showers or walk in tubs.  Either have a large bedroom or get a smaller bed.

12. When you're dead your will can be contested. If you have something special you want to give to a special person, give it to them before you die. This way you can enjoy their happiness, while ensuring the item goes where you want it.

13. If you need further advice, watch the Golden Girls. Believe it or not, these four women, through comedy covered many of complex issues of living longer.

14. Keep your favorite music from your youth handy!

The final year's of your life does not mean you are no longer an adult, but a sacred one. Ancient story teller. Our living past and gift to the future. Appreciate the treasure you are!

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