The Last Quarter Of Life
I play doubles tennis in a group here in San Miguel de Allende made up of residents and visitors. Always interesting people. As a theme of my blog I am mindful of who is showing up in my life and what the encounter will bring. Today one of my partners was Dennis McCullough, M. D. He is a Harvard trained geriatrician on the faculty of the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Dartmouth medical school. Turns out he was giving a lecture in the late afternoon discussing the principles in his recently released book, My Mother, Your Mother, Embracing “ Slow Medicine”-The Compassionate ApproachTo Caring For Your Aging Loved Ones. I attended.
While I have not read the book yet,( and I shall) he advocates a new approach: “slow medicine,” a careful anticipatory attendance to an elder’s changing needs rather than waiting for crises that force acute medical interventions.
Many people in the United States do not finish life in a very satisfactory way. Our culture is such that families are scattered and everyone is working. The elderly are shunted off to facilities as they face ravages of age where the staff turnover maybe extremely high and thus impersonal. Many of the retirement communities or assisted living facilities are long on the value of the physical amenities, but short on the services that aging people require. The costs are prohibitive now. Their world can become an unpleasant drama as they and their family members wrestle with how and what to do.
I am 67 and retired now, visiting a mother on a regular basis who is 98. Her situation has been fortunate. Yet it came with conscious planning. The lecture tonight brought to the surface the other main theme of this blog and that is how we can consciously and creatively use our mind to set in motion the way we want to personally experience this last part of life. Not so much in concrete detail, but emotionally as that seems to give the universe a wider set of options.
For me I realized I want to feel comfortable and content, to appreciate the miracle of small things I have been too busy to notice, whether it is a great cup of coffee, a sunset, or the spring flowers. I want to make sure I am not questioning, but moving in the direction of those intuitive urges that give me energy and vitality, whether it is taking up a new endeavor, learning a new skill or repotting myself physically. As Carlos Castenada said, “ All roads lead to nowhere, so follow the one with heart.” Perhaps as I find myself physically challenged I shall begin to explore my dream world, meditate more, become an explorer of the inner domains as the Eastern mystics have done for ages.
Most importantly I realized today I needed to set these intentions now.