By Steve Moran
I have a long way to go before I hit age 90 (though not as far as I had once, true), but as I age, I get more exposure to people in their 80s and 90s and how they are living out their lives. Some — like my father, who died last year at age 93, and our own Jack Cumming (not yet 90), who is far from dead — lived and are living vibrant, even world-changing lives.
Yet I know others who seem to be simply biding their time until they die. How to live out these last years are deeply personal decisions and may very well be determined by how they were raised as little kids — what they saw and what their families were like.
The World Looks Different
There is a lot of speculation about what baby boomers will want out of senior living as they start to come of age, something that is just starting to happen. What makes this so very hard is that as we age, our priorities change a lot.
My car is a 2011 Honda Pilot with 140,000 miles on it. I have kept it well maintained. The exterior looks great, but the interior not so much. The cloth seats have permanent stains from one too many spills, or adventures into the back country or Burning Man. The vinyl on the center divide is cracking and peeling from a decade-and-a-quarter of sun exposure.
It is also paid for, gets decent gas mileage, can still safely transport me to and from the mountains, and would be fine for another Burning Man adventure. The insurance is cheap as is the registration.
At one time I would have been so embarrassed to drive this car. I am older now, and it is a badge of pride to have driven this car for so long. I have no plans to replace it.
The People We Serve
What makes senior living challenging is that the people we serve, our residents, are just like us but completely different. We tend to think that other people think about things the same way we do, but they don’t. This means what seems logical to you and me may be stupidly illogical to others (our residents, but also team members and family members).
It is particularly difficult when we see people who serve people we love make decisions that are dumb … to us. Though we rarely wonder about how many times we make decisions that seem dumb to others.
Making It Work — Success
Success in life and in senior living is when we can help our residents and team members see the possibilities still ahead of them without pushing them to do something they are unwilling to do or incapable of doing. It is really hard when we see possibilities they don’t. I know this in a very personal way as I see a 90-year old family member live a life that seems very unfulfilling, very unhappy.
I look at that family member and vow to not be like that when I am 90.