I designed a seminar called “Connecting with and Coaching Caregivers of Older Adults” for Health Ed and presented in Des Moines, IA, this past Friday. I travel to Cedar Rapids next week and then Milwaukee in May. I had a great group of professional caregivers last Friday, all eager to learn better methods of supporting the family caregiver.
One participant named Liz came back after lunch with a crazy, owl ring. She gave it to me and said, “This is because you’re wise and you’re a hoot.” A huge grin came over me. I wore the ring for the afternoon and felt as if I had just received a personal Academy Award. (And I had to stop myself from reciting that iconic line from Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar acceptance speech: “You like me, you really like me.”)
I love teaching. I love interacting with a group, telling stories, facts, and encouraging participants to share. (And laughing early and often.) One of the first presentations I wrote was “Embracing Your Aging Self.” I presented it over 20 years ago at the American Society on Aging, and it was written up in The New York Times. It’s a great seminar—offering facts about aging (like what physical changes take place), dispelling myths (like the fact that memory loss is not a normal part of aging), and guiding participants to fall in love, or at least in like, with themselves as they age. If the alternative is death, then why not take on aging?
We are caregivers. We are aging. We are taking care of aging loved ones. If you don’t feel like a wise hoot about caregiving and aging, let me help. And quite possibly, if you engage with an aging loved one and set aside your preconceived notions, that person will reveal their inner wisdom. Take some well-written advice from Henri J. Nouwen:
“When the elderly no longer can bring us in contact with our own aging, we quickly start playing dangerous power games to uphold the illusion of being ageless and immortal. Then, not only will the wisdom of the elderly remain hidden from us, but the elderly themselves will lose their own deepest understanding of life.”