Family Matters- Active Adults Need to Cultivate Relationships, Not Abandon Them

Guest blog for http://lovebeingretired.com

It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in our own lives and our own business. Everybody does it from time to time, but eventually we all come back to the reality that there are other people that are important. Or, at least, we should. In retirement, it is so easy for us to think only about our needs and our desires, and we deserve it for all that we’ve done in our lives. Add to that the children constantly ‘checking in’ on us and it can easily become second nature to abandon the relationships that we’ve held all of our lives because we cannot be bothered by being checked on or simply because we don’t want to feel like a burden.

 

Without relationships in your life, it will be difficult for you to maintain a healthy level of mental and physical well being. So many active adults have families with busy lives, which causes them to go by the wayside when things get busy. You see people less and less, get fewer phone calls, and somehow you learn to accept that this is just the way that it will be. Don’t let yourself believe this, at all. This is not how it has to be, and certainly not how it should be. You need to reach out to your family, your friends, and the people around you. You need to ask for help, attention, and ask for those relationships that are being put second to be put first.

 

There is nothing wrong with having independence and space, but you need to also make sure that you have strong relationships with your family and friends. During retirement, those relationships are often what set people apart. The ones with more relationships or better ones will have happier, healthier days in retirement while those who have fewer relationships or strained relationships will likely face more illness, depression, and loneliness as the years go on. Work on your relationships. Make sure that you stay in touch with your family and make yourself an active part of their lives. Make them an active part of yours. You’ll all be better for it in the end.

 

Contributed by Mary Albert, a blogger for a senior health web site that provides advice for the 55+ age group as well as medical alert reviews

Would you donate a kidney?

The National Kidney Registry maintains a living database of kidney donors with a unique twist. In order to have access to the database and compatible donors, you or someone in your family must donate one of your kidneys to keep the chain going. With 200 transplants facilitated in 2010 they have literally saved the lives of people who without a kidney transplant might not be here today.

According to Katie Couric and the CBS News, every 90 minutes someone dies waiting for a kidney transplant and there are currently more than 87000 Americans on the waiting list for a new kidney.

Physically we can live with only one kidney. The actual transplant procedure takes about three hours. Modern medications to prevent rejection have come a long way and today donors do not necessarily need to be genetically similar to the recipient. A kidney transplant is considered a life-extending procedure typically enabling the recipient to live 10-15 years longer than if kept on dialysis. The bottom line is that for those with failing or failed kidneys, their life depends on a transplant.

As I learned more about this service and the incredible impact it had on families everywhere, I asked myself what would it take for me to donate a kidney? If someone I loved needed a kidney and I was a compatible donor, would I willingly offer myself or would I hesitate?

I think that all of us would like to believe that we would selflessly without hesitation say yes to immediate family members in need. Deep inside, we feel that we would likely agree to help out a close friend. But just how far is each of us willing to go? At what point would we say “no”?

I came up with a few questions to help me better understand myself and tried to answer them honestly.

  • Would I donate a kidney to my wife to save her life?
  • Would I donate a kidney to my child?
  • What about a more distant family member?
  • What about a good friend?
  • Would I donate a kidney for money? If so how much – what is my kidney worth to me in dollars and cents?
  • What unique or extreme circumstances might lead me to become a donor?
  • Would I ever unequivocally say no?

After thinking through how I would personally answer each question, I realized how difficult it is to make a final decision without actually being in the situation. For most of us it is a no brainer when it comes to family members and even close friends. But where would we absolutely say no? Without intimate knowledge of the people involved and their lives and their particular story, I don’t think we can know for sure how we would react.

I like to believe that for any given situation people will make the difficult choices to help their fellow human beings. Blood is thicker than water but love conquers all! Why else is it that we get a tear in our eye when we hear of the struggles of poor children around the world or the impact of disasters on the innocent? Why do we stand united against injustice and abuse? It is because we are basically good people and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

After I completed this exercise, I took a look at the list of those I would be willing to donate a kidney. I realized that these are the most important people in my life. Important enough for me to theoretically undergo an operation and donate one of my organs! But when was the last time I reached out to them, when did I last offer a good deed to these most significant in my life?

Although we may be fully willing to donate a kidney to someone we love, the likelihood is we will never be called upon to do so. So we need to show our love in slightly less dramatic ways. However we choose to show that we care is up to us. Just remember the fact we FEEL the love is not necessarily apparent until we SHOW the love.

Who would you add to your list?

Why Boomers Need To Accept Impermanence

Nothing lasts forever. Given enough time, colors fade, buildings crumble, continents shift, even suns grow cold. People around us grow up and grow old. We grow up and grow old. It is the nature of things; it is the way of life. At a logical level, we realize this. After all, boomers are smart people! And yet, despite accepting reality and despite our logical thinking, it is not always easy to remain positive as we witness and participate in this gradual decline all around us. A loss realized is a loss felt.

Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone. ~ C.S. Lewis

If boomers are not careful, it is possible to become obsessed with the impermanence of life and what is taken from us, fixating on the negatives. If in the end I am going to lose everything, what is the value of anything? I don’t want to become attached since I will ultimately lose it. Relationships and commitment scares me since 50% are destined to fail – why put in the effort?

On the flip side, boomers knowledge and acceptance of the impermanence of life can be a way for us to focus on today, appreciate what we have, not take for granted our loved ones, and generally live a more complete and satisfying life.

The Challenges and the Promises

If not for the impermanence of life, I would not be able to witness my daughter growing up and becoming the beautiful woman she is. Ever changing, ever progressing, we go through the process together. It is important to remain consciously aware of what is happening and appreciate each step along the way. Together we experience her first words spoken, her first unsure steps, the start of her school career at the wise age of five, school plays where she sings her solo and I in the audience with my heart pounding in rhythm to help her succeed, graduation from high school, and so quickly after that graduation from college. Each step along the way a distinct memory and one more piece of the final puzzle that will be her life. Without change and evolution and impermanence none of this could take place.

It is through impermanence that we start each spring observing life busting out as trees bud and bloom. Leaves grow and fill out the branches and life is abundant. Then as the months pass, we notice the greens fading to yellows and reds and oranges in vibrant displays of magnificent color. We know that this change in colors indicates the coming end of summer and the arrival of winter. And ultimately, leaves fall and trees are bare and life seems to stand still. But were it not for this cycle of life we would not have colorful autumns to populate our memories.

If I can learn to appreciate the impermanence of the world, hopefully I will stop taking for granted what happens to me each day. I will wake up next to my wife and truly appreciate her for the wonderful person she is and hug her close to me. When my uncle begins his rambling discourse on the topic du jour, I will pay attention and hear what he is saying. As I drive down the road with my wife in the passenger seat, I will be conscious of her presence and the blessing of our togetherness and I will not take it for granted.

Nothing is forever so we boomers need to appreciate now:

  • Enjoy every moment with those we love
  • Respect and value every experience and everything around us
  • Appreciate what we have now – good health, a roof over our heads, enough to eat, water to drink, warmth on a cold night, protection from the storm
  • Do not take friends and family for granted
  • If we have something nice to say, say it now
  • Don’t save all of the good wine for later
  • Live your life so at the end you have no regrets

Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me. The carriage held but just ourselves and immortality. ~ Emily Dickinson

Because of impermanence and the ever-changing world in which we live, bad weather storms in and then moves on, anger rises and abates, tears well up and then dry, and hope springs up in the most unlikely of places. Boomers need to learn to appreciate the value of impermanence. If I am healthy now, I will do what I can to maintain that health. Knowing that life itself is impermanent, I will appreciate each experience that much more. For each moment, I will be thankful, engaged, appreciative, and above all I will live and love that moment.