Planning to Age Well
Last week two articles in the Bozeman Chronicle caught my eye; one interviewing a local sports figure, 74 year old Molly Hayes who routinely runs six to seven Olympic-length triathlons per year, and a Dear Abby letter from a 79 year old woman "Grace" experiencing functional decline and struggling to keep her family from forcing decisions —for her own good. People often ask me how to get motivated to stay active. I think as an answer I’m going to put these two articles together in a paper and hand it out!!
I view a healthy lifesyle as the best insurance policy for retaining control over your own life. Certainly there are no guarantees, anyone can have an accident or illness, but consciously choosing behaviors that improve and retain functional independence can facilitate lifelong autonomy and control. Through a 50 year commitment to fitness the decisions Molly is facing center on which race to run. In Grace’s case the family is noticing that since her husbands declining health the yardwork and housework is not being done to its former level. The family is pressuring the couple to move to a smaller home with less work and it is causing a lot of family conflict and hard feelings.
People often make sure they have health directives to handle medical emergencies and power of attorney to handle legal matters, but few people have a written plan for how they want their personal wellness facilitated. What if we wrote a plan for how we wanted our family to support whole person wellness, spelling out the steps we would like them to take WITH US if there is a decline in health. Many people deny health declines out of fear that others will try to take over. Having a plan in advance for increasing well-being or identifying services that can bridge the gap can prevent family members from becoming adversaries (struggling for control). When a plan exists to improve outcomes (increase functional ability, etc.) family members won’t automatically assume that taking control of a loved ones life is the next logical step. What would your wellness plan be?