“Dog Days” Diversions

No doubt about it: we are knee-deep into the “dog days” of summer.  The scorching heat is relentless, and the humidity is absolutely spirit-crushing. Our town has pretty much emptied out for the week, as many families are enjoying timely lakeside or ocean-oriented getaways.  Still others (like me) are escaping inside Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond while preparing to send a child off to college in the coming days.

My colleague at NASMM, Jennifer Pickett, and I are dutifully absorbed in creating NASMM’s 2011 Conference brochure, citing all the features and benefits to meeting in Florida in January. It’s a bit of a struggle to compose the brochure copy when tiny beads of sweat are dripping down our foreheads and landing . . . plunk! . . . on the computer keyboard. We persevere, however, with the full knowledge that we ultimately WILL be grateful for selecting a beachfront resort location on the Gulf for our meeting January 13-16, 2011.

In the true spirit of “dog days,” I am sharing an eclectic mix of miscellaneous items that have landed in my “inbox” during the last week or so – a quote, a listserv post from a NASMM member, an article, etc. Grab a comfy chair in a quiet corner, and kick back with an ice-cold glass of strawberry lemonade or minty mojito (your choice). Here goes ~

1) I re-discovered these lines from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Poetry that resonates with me, both personally and professionally . . .

For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

2) To the NASMM listserv from a NASMM member in North Carolina, this post reflects what senior move management is truly about:

“I recently enjoyed a wonderful experience with a WWII vet who was moving across the country from NC to IL.  He had already moved to an IL senior living community, and the closing on his house was scheduled for the coming week.  He became quite concerned about moving the rest of his belongings out of the house in time.  After meeting Tom at his home,  I quickly discovered he really didn’t require the services of a senior move manager because his daughter and son live nearby and are very involved with their dad.  I helped the family sell a few of his things on Craigslist, but the time spent was so minimal that I didn’t even charge them.

Tom owned an impressive collection of approximately 75 model aircraft from the World War II era.  Over the years, he had painstakingly assembled and painted them himself.  It’s an amazing assortment to behold.

Tom was genuinely disappointed at the prospect of simply tossing his prized collection.  Senior move manager to the rescue!!  I discovered a small local museum which opened a year ago, called “The Price of Freedom Museum.” Amazingly, it specializes in WWII military memorabilia.  I immediately contacted the museum managers, and they were thrilled to receive Tom’s large collection of lovingly-crafted model airplanes.  Needless to say, Tom is equally happy to have a home for his models where other people (especially school children on field trips and seniors on outings) will be able to enjoy and appreciate his work. On a personal note, I love that we, as senior move managers, get to do something truly gratifying – even if we don’t get paid!”

3) Also to the NASMM listserv, this time from a member in Florida:
“Often times, the adult children pay the fees of a senior move manager.  When the older adult clients ask the cost of our services, we explain the service is a gift from their family. This last time, rather than just telling the clients about the gift from their children, we dressed the part and came to the first appointment wrapped in paper and bows like a gift package. It made our clients smile and the parents happy to accept the financial gift from their children.”

4) Wow! At a recent technology conference, Google CEO Eric Schmidt observed, “Every two days we now create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.” A staggering statistic, and what does it mean for us and our future?

5) Ageism in reverse? Is this a trend or an anomaly: In the Fort Myers, FL area, the Lake Kennedy and Tony Rotino senior centers may soon pare down their titles. Staff members at the centers would like to eliminate the word “senior,” which would go a long way in making the centers more inclusive to all ages.
“We want to open the doors to meet the needs of more people,” said Kitty Sayers, program supervisor for Lake Kennedy Senior Center. “We want to meet the needs of boomers as they age – what’s going to meet their needs but still the needs of seniors.”

6) More wow! Beginning in 2011, 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day. Only half will maintain their standard of living in retirement, while one in four will be dependent on government programs. Today, suburban populations are aging faster than those in the cities. Today there are 4.2 million people age 85 and up. Source: “The Futurist” Cetron, Davies, May-June, 2010

7) Lastly, the New York Times (in its The New Old Age blog) inspired a dialogue in the senior living industry this past week when it discussed a recent study of senior living as it relates to well being. Having worked for 8+ years for a non-profit association of quality senior living providers in IL, I especially agree with this observation in the article:  “. . . the characteristics adult children look for when they begin the search aren’t necessarily what makes a difference to the people who move in.”

As adult children, we must be advocates for our parents and grandparents. As consumers, we absolutely must look past the stately lobby with its tufted Queen Anne wing chairs to the nooks and crannies where the real “senior living” occurs. Ask questions. Visit unannounced. Ask more questions, and visit frequently once your older adult family member moves into the community. Your caregiver role does not end, but simply changes.

Stay cool, everyone, and see you on the beach in Florida in January! The 2011 NASMM Conference brochure will be out soon.

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