Geezerness. For lack of a better word, that’s what I call it when I get cranky about things I don’t like or understand. Geezerness is how I interact with equipment or technologies I would rather smash than take the time to learn. Duck! What was that? That was Ellen’s PC (a kind of computer prone to tossing), thrown through her window! Blog, schmog. Twitter, schmitter! I can just hear myself saying, “These kids today with their newfangled gizmos. I used a pen and the US Postal Service and it was plenty good in my day!” And, in geezerly fashion, I dread facing hard-core elder care geezer questions for myself and my husband.
Of course, I’m WAY too sophisticated to actually say these types of things out loud, but I sure think “geezerly” thoughts … more often, it seems, as every day passes. Help, I’m aging! And so, my friend, are you. That “state” of denial we are so fond of inhabiting? Most of us — including myself — if we haven’t already moved there, at least have a PO Box. Please send my AARP magazine to: Ellen Snortland, 455 Cranky Pants Drive, Geezerville, Denial 90ZZZ. Given how our society encourages us to deny that we’re all going to age and die, I wonder how well I’m going to take on the inevitable (gasp!): aging and dying.
I look at my own role models. My parents, Arnold and Barbara Snortland, were in some ways very much tuned in to their own senior years insofar as they were forthright and responsible for making sure they “were never a burden” to anyone. They planned their lives in such a way that they had everything they needed until they died.
However, other than living and medical arrangements, my father was not able to take on aging gracefully. Daddy fought his own mortality every step of the way. As with most characteristics, his denial about aging was an asset as well as a liability. He kept the grim reaper at bay by exercising and eating well. Long before the movie, he made a “bucket list” of things he wanted to do before he kicked his own bucket, prompting trips to Turkey and Panama without my mother, who hated travel. Dad exemplified “I intend to live forever, or die trying,” as Groucho Marx said. Me too.
The most painful part of my father’s sunset years was confronting him about driving. His car had new dings and dents daily. Deaf as a doornail, he was unable to hear the honking horns that hounded him wherever he went. His stubbornness was so entrenched that he actually drove around with his oxygen tank sitting next to him on the car seat. We three sisters had conversations about how we were going to make Dad stop driving. We even fantasized about calling the cops to have him arrested. The only time I ever saw my father get mean was when I confronted him about the danger he was posing to himself and others. He threatened to disinherit me if I talked to him about it again. Nonetheless, we all persisted and he — heartbroken — finally hung up his keys.
OK, so what about me? Childless, the youngest of three, with a hubby who also has no kids and very few relatives … I confront the queasiest geezer questions: Who will make decisions for me? Who will buy my Depends? Who is going to tell me to stop driving? And due to the recent collapse of our economy, the financial safety net I used to have for my own dotage is gone, gone, gone. Right now I can’t count on hiring caregivers. There’s going to be a big group of us childless “baby boomers” who will be dependent on … who? The Geezer Fairy?
Mary Winners, the founder of About Senior Solutions (http://aboutseniorsolutions.com/) has made her life about educating all of us deniers on what to do and when to do it, either for our parents or now — more and more — ourselves.
Ms. Winners says, “I have coined the term GIFT as an acronym for planning. Planning is a ‘gift’ you give yourself and others who will be involved with your last years.”
Winners’ GIFT stands for:
G — Gather all the information you need to create a plan for yourself.
I — Inform those who you want involved with your decisions, including professionals — CPA, financial planner, attorney and health advocate.
F — Follow through to completion on all the documents that are necessary to activate your plan. If you don’t dot your I’s and cross your T’s, it will mean nothing! Update as you age.
T — Tell your decision-makers where these documents are, or share copies for them to have. Include contact information for your “team” to connect if the plan needs activation, so everyone can effectively work for your best interest.
Regardless of my own geezerness in railing against new technologies, we still, as a human family, have to confront the oldest “technology” of all: death. Thanks to people like Winners and About Senior Solutions, we will never be alone, even with no children.
Contact Ellen at snortland.com.