Golden Years

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

How can I convince my family (three generations of them), that I am
fit to keep living alone? I have a few minor ailments, but I am as
active as I was in my 60s. I am 84 now. I work out every day as well
as walking my dog twice a day. I eat healthy organic food that I cook
for myself, and have a social life that would put a thirty-year old to
shame. I regularly attend ballet, opera, and theatre. I volunteer for
reading programs for pre-schoolers, hold babies at the hospital
nursery, and help out at the animal shelter connecting strays with
their new forever parents. I have enough resources to be happy, pay
my own bills, clean my own house, and except for one hospital stay a
few years ago with a slipped disc, I have not had any medical issues
that should make people think I am doddering or incapacitated in any
way. At my recent birthday party my children and their adult children
gathered around like they were doing an intervention with a heroin
addict. All they could talk about was downsizing and moving to an
assisted living center “before it’s too late.” How can I convince them
it’s nowhere close to late? In fact, it’s way too early!

Golden Years

Dear Golden Years:

You’re describing a life than many younger people would envy. Your
children and grandchildren are projecting their own fears onto you. It’s
not that those fears aren’t legit. For many folks in your age range,
they might be appropriate and valid. But you are a happy exception,
and they should be able to see that and treat you that way.
If you were applying for long-term care insurance, you’d have to
specific when you could no longer independently perform any of the
six aspects of daily living: bathing, dressing, eating, continence,
toileting, and transfers. Those’re the criteria for getting help, which
could be help in your home, not necessarily moving to a facility. I
would engage the services of the local Jewish Federation social worker.



Ask for a meeting with her and plead your case. Then invite the family
over for a sit-down, and together agree on criteria for a future
reassessment. Let the social worker plead your case from a
professional perspective. But then agree to a series of actions you can
take as a precursor to future downsizing, like clearing and purging
your possessions. You should also begin to document all your finances
and bills, and put together instructions lest you have a medical
emergency and someone needs to step in.
I hope you live long and healthily and die decades from now in your
bed with a smile on your face, surrounded by your generations of