Listen to Joan…. Again

Listen to Joan…. Again by Joan Lunden

{Read in 4 minutes} You don’t always notice the changes when you are caring for a loved one from a long distance. We somehow fill in the blanks, don’t pick up on the cues, don’t realize that prescriptions are not being taken as directed. We hear what we want to hear, and believe all is well, until — it becomes so obvious you have to do something. 

Recently we invited Joan Lunden, who for nearly two decades was the co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America, a celebrated journalist, and author of eight books, to speak at our annual Inspiring Lives luncheon. You could have heard a pin drop as attendees nodded in acknowledgment and amazement at her candor. Who else could articulate our experiences quite like Joan? Joan — who covered the Olympics, five presidents, first ladies, and countless global leaders — who traveled the world covering historic events. Who else could inspire an audience with a personal reflection and advice for families?

Traveling and working full time as a mother of seven, she talked frankly about her family and her gradual realization that she did not know her mother’s daily routines or where the important documents were. She paid the bills and only slowly came to realize how much her mother valued regular visits with her hairdresser.

How many of us have been there — how many of us are still clueless? How many people assume moving mom closer to where they live is the right answer — missing, of course, the loss of community and familiarity with the cashier, the teller, the hairdresser? (You dye until you die — according to Joan’s mom!)

After Joan’s brother died, she embarked on finding the right place for her mother to live, one that made sense for her. That did not mean moving to the east coast, which would have been more convenient for Joan — but a terrible, unrelatable experience for an older adult who loved nature and the year-round access to a garden.

She talked about the family planning process; having the conversation as I have talked about before. Do it now, talk about life transitions often as they are as natural as the sun and rain:

  • Do you have a Power of Attorney?
  • Living Will?
  • Health Care Proxy?
  • Do you know what your parent wants if they are unable to express it at some point?

Listen to Joan. Any chance you get — listen to her as she advocates for older adults and families. As we know, the fastest-growing segment of the population includes people over age 100.

There is much we can do to advocate for seniors — first with our own families, and then in our communities. Contact your local commission on aging to learn more. If your town does not have a commission on aging, call the senior center, or reach out to your state agency on aging.

I believe the true measure of a community is defined by the way we treat our seniors:

  • Sidewalks;
  • Crosswalks;
  • Transportation;
  • Community watch for scam artists;
  • Access to affordable age-friendly housing;
  • Food; and
  • Affordable healthcare.

Seniors, like children, often do not have an advocate.

As one ages, the allocation of income spent on health care increases dramatically, often challenging those living on Social Security to make difficult choices between food and medication.

Listen to Joan. As she wrapped up her talk, she said: “Just keep telling them you love them. Tell them you love them.”

Thank You, Joan Lunden, we appreciate your leadership and your advocacy for older adults!

If you have questions or want more information, contact me at SilverSource for help planning for family transitions, guidance, and referrals that can help you care for a loved one.

Click Here to view a short video from the 2019 SilverSource “Inspiring Lives” Luncheon.

Founded in 1908, SilverSource is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides information, financial support, and other services that positively improve the quality of life for people over age 60 while serving as a resource center and referral source for older adults and their families in lower Fairfield County.

Kathleen Bordelon
Executive Director
Kbordelon@silversource.org
203.324.6584 x 301