Over the Moon!
I’m a Great-Grandma
Sixty-two years ago, my husband and I had a son; we had a daughter two years later. Fast forward 30 years and our first grandson was born; three years later, our second grandson was born. Fast forward another 32 years, and our first great-grandchild was born last week. I held her yesterday; she is precious beyond words. Her great-grandpa missed her by a year.
She comes into a very different world than her parents and grandparents did. Today, there are many uncertainties. Hopefully, she will have a happy, fulfilling life, and her great-grandma can be part of it for years to come.
What does that have to do with aging well, you ask. Well, if you are old enough to be a great-grandparent, you have probably aged reasonably well.
When I look back, four factors played a role for me: support, a healthy lifestyle, financial security, and planning.
My life revolved around my family, and I am blessed to be a part of their lives. I was the matron of honor at my daughter’s wedding, the birth coach when my grandsons were born, and lived next door to my daughter and her family for ten years, Our older grandson lived with us when he went to college. Together we went through the experience of my husband, their dad, and “gramps,” losing his battle with dementia and COVID. I would not have survived the past six years without their support.
For a variety of reasons, many people don’t have that support. I read stories about family conflict, resentments, court battles about money, and distrust. If family relationships aren’t great, a person might look for ways to improve them or create an external family – particularly if they are solo agers. It makes a difference to know there is someone who cares, keeps an eye on you, and steps up when you need it.
Health is a factor in being able to meet one’s great-grandchild. Every article in this newsletter offers ideas on how to build the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health necessary to at least improve your chances of aging well. Being healthy is about the six dimensions of wellness, but it also includes looking at habits, how you do things, and how you see yourself.
Thanks to my husband’s interest, we had financial security, but it took years and not everyone has that in place. If not, now could be the time to consider it.
In some ways, we did plan. Having support, a healthy lifestyle, and financial security didn’t happen overnight, but were developed over time. The good news: it isn’t too late to start, even if you are young. I started creating relationships with my family over 60 years ago. We began to think about healthy lifestyles and financial security 40 years ago.
In other ways, there was little planning. I was not prepared to be a caregiver or have the love of my life develop dementia. I didn’t know about our financial situation, what a power of attorney was, or how to fix computer problems. Although my husband had memory problems, I was not prepared. In retrospect, I was busy keeping him alive and didn’t plan for his illness and death or life afterward.
A recent article in the Stephen’s People newsletter resonated with me In it, a fellow writer said “I think I’ve done better for longevity planning -- exercise, diet, meditation and all the other things that might make my next 40 years (ha ha) more enjoyable -- than I have planning how to cover my expenses.”
That’s it - a longevity plan! Having a support system in place, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, building financial security, and developing a plan can help a person age well.