Owning and Enjoying Aging in Peace

Insights on Growing Older & Facing Death


Personal growth pioneer Louise Hay, still a tour de force in the field at 89, is known for saying, “Make the rest of your life the best of your life.” Her words aren’t aimed specifically at seniors, though they’re most apt for this cohort group, many of whom have a difficult time making peace with the changes growing older brings.

Several older participants in a women’s networking group recently asked, “How do you think about and deal with your feelings about aging — and death?”

Here are some ideas you may wish to share with your reverse mortgage prospects and clients or their family members, as well as with other elders in your life.

On growing older

  • Start or join a support group. Aging alone can be challenging, and the number of seniors minus any kind of support is mushrooming as the Boomers enter their elder years. Deepening Our Connection: A Guide for the Wisdom Years offers guidance for how to create “intentional family” later in life (or ideally, much earlier).reverse mortgage news
  • Have conversations with your younger self. Remember what used to light you up, or areas of life you always longed to explore but never did. (Painting class? Hiking club?) Now might be the perfect time to revisit these intentions.
  • Reframe aging as an adventure, and journal about it as you would a trip to a foreign country.
  • Read uplifting memoirs of people who’ve been there, such as Greedy for Life: A Memoir on Aging with Gratitude or The Measure of My Days, by Dr. Florida Scott-Maxwell. I read the latter in my early twenties. Scott-Maxwell’s book is a timeless testament to the issues we face throughout our lives, such as how to maintain individuality in a mass society, and how to emerge out of suffering, loss, and limitation with something approaching wisdom. Written when Scott-Maxwell was in her eighties, her voice is that of the “grandmother wisdom” often absent in Western culture.
  • Adopt a digitized four-footed companion. Did you have pets in your younger years but feel unequal to the task of caring for one now? Robocat provides all the love with none of the responsibility: no need to feed this cat, or clean the litter box. May be especially beneficial for someone with mild cognitive impairment.

On facing death

  • Embrace your role as an elder. When our parents and those of their generation die, we have an opportunity to redefine relationships within the family. In other cultures (and past generations) elders were revered. Now, as a senior, you have the freedom to serve as the voice of wisdom where you live, whether that means a major city, a nuclear family, or a retirement living community. Perception makes the difference.
  • Absorb the virtues of inspirational loved ones who have died, and allow the memory of your beloved departed to remind you that you’re still ALIVE.
  • Live in the now. This 92-year-old offers five simple rules for happiness that any senior (or younger person) can embrace if they choose.
  • Give back. Think you’re too old to serve others? A 105-year-old nun is still a font of encouragement to prison inmates. Her dedication to helping others may be one reason she’s lived so long. Instead of focusing on death, or her infirmities as a centenarian, she continues to enrich the world with love and outreach.

Looking for more reverse mortgage news, commentary and technology? Visit ReverseFocus.com today.

7 comments

Carol Hurst February 16, 2016 at 5:44 am

ABSOLUTELY the BEST article I’ve ever read regarding SUCCESSFUL Aging!!!!

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Amara Rose February 17, 2016 at 9:47 am

Oh Carol, you are SO sweet :-)))

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Dick Diamond February 16, 2016 at 12:18 pm

I just read your newest blog on embracing aging and got to thinking about it. How well I remember my grandfather taking an interest in my life as a teenager and a college student – how he made me think about those things that were important to me then, how he helped me get a summer job in high school by asking a friend to give me a chance working for him, how he was morally guided and practiced his faith, how we did a few recreational things together and how he helped me financially when I needed a lift. He was a great role model for me. I became a better man in so many ways because he provided me with a role model I could look up to, and now that I am a grandfather I do my best to live up to his legacy.

As we age, we become our parents and finally our grandparents, and it provides us with the unique opportunity to help guide and instill the right values in our younger family members without being judgmental. We can only do this if we are proactive and stay interested and involved in their lives so that they feel we are approachable and not critical. It also lets us explore activities we may have missed along the way of growing up and to stay up with the times.

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Amara Rose February 17, 2016 at 9:49 am

Dick,

Now I can see how you came to be the caring, sensitive person you are. Your grandfather sounds like a true elder, the kind of role model we all need and that is so often lacking for today’s youth.

Thanks for your words of wisdom, your huge heart, and your deep commitment to positive aging and the clients you serve.

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Jeffrey Cooper February 16, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Amara,

I recently went through a very difficult experience with the aging and death of my parents. They died within 11 months of each other, which I come to find is not as uncommon as one would think. I guess you can die of a broken heart.

Some brief history: I’ve owned a mortgage company since 2001 and just recently sold it to be “just” a loan officer again. In 2003, I did take a few months to become licensed as a life insurance agent. I sold exactly one policy as a life insurance agent and that was a Long Term Care policy to my parents. I never renewed my license and that was that. Later, as my company became active in the Reverse Mortgage world, I refinanced my parents into a Reverse Mortgage. They owned their residence free and clear but I knew they would need some sort of safety net should anything happen.

In March, 2015 my father died. It left my mom in a situation where she wasn’t sure how she was going to pay the bills. Could she afford them? Where could she take the scalpel and start cutting? Fortunately, she did have the Reverse Mortgage and she was able to draw when she needed to draw and pay it back when she was in a position to pay it back. It was easily one of the best decisions we could have made in their long term planning. Unfortunately, in August of 2015 my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. A good part of the time she was able to live at home with a private CNA that she never would have been able to afford if we had not purchased the Long Term Care policy. The cost to have the CNA was $5500/month and because she had been paying into the policy for so long, she had enough to cover the expense (plus or minus a few dollars).

Unfortunately as is the case so many times, cancer won this battle and my mom died on January 25th. The LTC policy allowed her to stay at home for most of her battle and the safety net of the HECM cleared her mind of any financial worries.

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Amara Rose February 17, 2016 at 9:55 am

Dear Jeff,

I extend my deepest empathy on your double loss. I hope you will take all the time you need to grieve (we’ll be uploading another grief post next Tuesday) and that you have support during this time.

If you’ve been reading the HECMWorld blog for awhile you know that I lost my Mom and other elders in 2014, and have written extensively about grief and grieving. Here’s one post: https://www.hecmworld.com/reverse-mortgage-news/seniors-processing-through-grief

Have you considered partnering with an insurance agent to co-promote the advantages of LTC policies in conjunction with HECMs?

You might also want to connect with Richard Wexler at Points of Life, who went through a similar experience with both his and his wife’s parents, and as a result created this resource to help families find the help they need, as well as to provide education: http://www.pointsoflife.org

With blessings and support,
Amara

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