They say 50 is the new 30. While that sounds great, when I turn 50 on Nov. 25, I’ll still be half a century old. Age is all about perspective, right? My 20-something-year-old kids think 50 sounds old. My 70-something relatives consider me still a baby. What I know is my knee hurts when I climb too many stairs, and the day that I need a little more help is coming quicker than I want to admit.
While I’m getting older, I also like to think I’m getting wiser. With five decades of experiences, I know more than I’ve ever known in my lifetime. Those experiences help me do better today than I did yesterday. We’ve got to learn from our mistakes and learn from those who have influenced us most.
I learned from my mother that letting your family know about your desires for end-of-life care is important. My mother died several years ago from cancer. She told my sister and me that she wanted to stay at home as long as she could. It was a hard conversation, but it was an important one. We honored her wishes and were fortunate to ensure her care in the comfort of home until she passed.
What are my wishes for aging and caregiving?
As my next birthday approaches, I’ve been thinking more about caregiving. I see the challenges, the heartaches, and the joys of those who care for others. I have so much respect for all the unpaid and paid caregivers in our community who are helping the elderly and those with disabilities live their best lives.
It’s hard to imagine my kids someday as caregivers for me. As a parent, my role has always been that of caregiver and protector. But I know the day may come when they need to step in and help. So, while I’m only 50, I’ve started to talk to my wife and them about things I’d like. Like my mother, I want to age in place, to live at home for as long as I can. Because of discussions we’ve had, they know that quality of life is more important to me than the number of years I live.
Have the conversation now
Whether you’re 25 or 85 or somewhere in between, I encourage you to begin having important end-of-life conversations with loved ones. Make sure you have a will and get your affairs in order. Make it a game, if that helps, but I can tell you that taking care of this now rather than later actually reduces stress in families and gives a greater sense of peace and confidence about the future. While you are at it, get some exercise, and eat more vegetables and less pizza (something I’m continuing to work on.)
I’ve learned over the last five decades—and especially during this year of the pandemic—that you never know the curve ball life may fling your way. But the more you can prepare, the easier it will be to address whatever challenges come.
November is Family Caregivers Month. If you are caring for an aging loved one and need help addressing their end-of-life care wishes, please call the Aging & Disability Resource Center at (317) 803-6131. We can help.
As President and CEO, Tauhric Brown uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. Before joining CICOA, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career started in the U.S. Army, and then he became a successful owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.