The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 23, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Aging in place: Independence

Most of us start screaming our individuality as we exit the womb, kicking and gasping our way into the world.  While we may develop a more subtle approach over time, we are likely to continue the battle for self-assertion for the remainder of our lives. Maybe battle is the wrong word; it is a war that lasts a lifetime and various stages of our lives constitute various battles.

Whether it's the terrible 2's, bucking the folks' curfew rules on Friday night, or striving to remain independent as we age, it is all about trying to assert who and how we want to be.  One of the most significant differences in these battles is the way we learn to enroll others in our efforts as we grow older.  Among the lessons time teaches is that cooperation is more productive than confrontation.

The battle for independence as we age can be the longest of our lifetimes. Kids we guided into adulthood may seem to evolve into obstacles, appearing to be challenging driving competency, financial acumen, lifestyle and even whether there should be another dog "at our age".  In truth, they are the bearers of difficult concerns. They want to help and support us, but if we do not invite them in and offer our assistance, failure for them and frustration for all may result.

It's scary to realize we can't see as well at night for driving or to wonder how we can possibly manage the cost of a much-loved but too large home. It can also be frightening to share our evolving limitations with others. 

The more fully-informed people are, the better their chance of making good choices.  Knowing we are aware of changes brought on by aging helps others to offer the support we need. That is far preferable to their volunteering to solve problems we may not have yet.

We can open communication with conversations about financial concerns, housing issues, health complications and a host of other topics. That lets those who care about us in. It teaches ways to offer support and reassures them of the many capabilities we still do have.

Along the way it can also transform the battle for independence into a cooperative alliance. 

Aging in Place, it doesn't happen by accident.



Scott Funk is Vermont's leading Aging in Place advocate, writing and speaking around the state on issues of concern to retirees and their families. He works as a reverse mortgage consultant.

Tagged: AIP, Aging in Place