Two couples I know, both of them Baby Boomers, are spending almost every day running back and forth between their home and the hospital or nursing home, trying to care for very elderly parents. They are exhausted, physically and emotionally.
A friend of mine, herself a Baby Boomer, is struggling in hospital. She is facing a serious but non-life threatening operation, but it may take several months before this can happen. In the meanwhile, she is terrified that the hospital is going to send her home where she lives alone and must contend with stairs and other hazards. Her daughter, who lives in another city and has three very young children and a demanding job, is trying to find options for her mother’s care. But it’s not easy to manage these arrangements from so far away.
More than ever now people of faith need to find ways to support caregivers and their loved ones. It is all very well for us to pray for them, but we must do more than pray. Those who are in need of care often require someone to be their advocate and, if there is no family close by, then they should be able to depend upon their brothers and sisters in the faith community to help them.
Those who are doing the care-giving often need even more support, although many find it hard to acknowledge this. That is why great sensitivity is required when reaching out to friends and colleagues who are facing compassion fatigue. How can you give a caregiver a break? Recently I came across a wonderful article by Debbie Swanson which addresses this very issue. Check it out in Next Avenue: What Can You Do to Ease a Caregiver’s Burden?
Do you know about the Ontario Library Association‘s Evergreen List? Each year the OLA nominates a number of books in Canadian fiction and non-fiction in an effort to encourage people to explore Canadian literature and discover a variety of talented Canadian authors.
One book from the 2018 list that I particularly enjoyed is Solitude. A Singular Life in a Crowded World by Michael Harris. I have always known that the secret to healthy aging is community, so was rather intrigued to discover this book on the importance of solitude. However, true solitude is not about being anti-social. According to Harris, we human beings need to have alone time in order to thrive. And if we can spend that time in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of every day urban life, so much the better! Solitude, he says, has many uses. Time alone can help us to birth new ideas and a deeper understanding of the self.
And get this! Solitude can lead to closeness with others. Harris refers to the work of Eric Klinenberg, Going Solo. Klinenberg asserts “that our ability to be happily alone is actually a sign of strong social ties, not a lack thereof. He notes, for example, that the countries with the highest rates of solo living — Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark — are all countries famed for their communal support.” (quoted in Harris, p. 39)
It would seem that we all need to find the balance between being with others and being alone in order to live a happy life. Finding that balance is another important key to healthy living and healthy aging. It is a worthy goal to which to aspire in this still very New Year.
Happy New Year! Here we are, only three days into 2019! How are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions? If you haven’t made any yet, there’s still time!
Here’s one that came to me from Next Avenue, a wonderful online newsletter you may wish to subscribe to this year. As a way of keeping our minds sharp — and having some fun along the way — why not try to learn to play a musical instrument or take an art class? Engaging in the arts is one of the best ways to keep your mind agile and make new friends while cultivating your talents.
My personal choice is an art class. All my life I have loved to draw and paint, but I have never really had the time. This year I plan to make time for a 2 1/2-hour class at Art Adventures in London. It doesn’t matter that the rest of the group has far more talent than me. The instructor welcomes people of all abilities and provides all the materials. So I just need to show up! I call it my form of “meditation”. Once I get engrossed in my art work, I forget about all my worries and concerns. For me, it is a great way to explore my inner me and have some fun doing it.
Why not give it a try? Would love to hear how you plan to cultivate your creative spirit this year!