Seniors: Living Longer than Expected

Sep 15th, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Whether it is you or your parents or in-laws, living longer than expected can introduce major issues and considerations within a family.  Longevity is now one of the additional challenges faced by more and more of us.  We are just living longer and, with that, are maintaining reasonably good health.  There are some threatening indicators that may deter the desire to live longer, such as dementia, immobility, etc.  However, all things being equal, living into one’s 90′s and even beyond, is now a realistic possibility. 

While living longer may bring with it certain advantages and even blessings, it may also produce some conflicts, demands and adjustments that must be calculated in the equation.  Enjoying having a loved one around for a longer life can lead to many joys.  It can produce unexpected gifts in relationships and interchanges not possible if one is bedridden and not functional mentally.  So, preparing for the possibility of a family member living longer, with reasonably good health, requires some intentional preparations.

Among the matters to be addressed include: 

*What will be the living arrangements?  Can/should/would an older person want to live independently or is their situation such that seeking out other options may be desirable and appropriate?

*Of course,  economics will play a big part.  Are there adequate resources available to provide for the needs of the older person?  Will the older person agree to necessary arrangements, when it becomes apparent that changes are in the offing? 

*Living longer than expected may bring it with it both emotional and psychological adaptations requiring adjustment on everyone’s part.

*Patience, particularly if there are signs of decline, will need to be exercised with care and compassion. 

*Tolerance, here a twin of patience, will be required when behaviors exhibit frustration and insensitivity. 

*Recognition that not all experiences with a person who is living longer than expected will be pleasant and congenial.

*Enabling others to be mature and thoughtful when in the presence of the older person, exercising good judgment and sensitive interactions.

*Take advantage of the good times, when normalcy seems to be the order of the day.  Do not force behaviors that may create ill will or animosity or discomfort. 

*Be careful to enjoin all who are part of an occasion to be able to laugh, reminisce, and find enjoyment in just being together. 

*Let no one suffer embarassment. 

Living longer can be a pleasure productive of good times together and inviting of everyone to count this opportunity as one more reason to celebrate longer life.



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