One of the truths about aging is that there is only one way out, and unless we are in constant pain of one kind or another the door marked exit is unappealing. So the daily question for us is “can I make the time I have, this day, this evening, this moment better? And by better I do not mean another helping of ice cream. Within the reality of my fragility, can I be more alive?
The research on brain plasticity offers the opportunity to get involved in learning new ways to understand ourselves and the people in our lives who mean so much to us. We can learn how to re-route the synapse roads that take us to destinations we should avoid.
At this moment I am writing on an I pad; the first time I’ve tried to post a note to one of my blogs using this wonderful instrument. By the time I’ve learned to do this moderately well I will have constructed a number of new pathways in my brain, new neural connections, new eye and hand coordinations, new ways of being alive.

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Plasticity

Current research on the ability of the brain to “learn new tricks” is known as neuroplasticity.neuroplasticity. It tells us that flexibility of the brain is as important and as possible to achieve as is flexibility of the body. What that may mean for the families of aging parents will be the subject to the next post.

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Plasticity

Current research on the ability of the brain to “learn new tricks” is known as neuroplasticity.neuroplasticity. It tells us that flexibility of the brain is as important and as possible to achieve as is flexibility of the body. What that may mean for the families of aging parents will be the subject to the next post.

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The Separation

The Separation, winner of the foreign films Academy Awards for Foreign films is without a doubt the best movie I’ve seen in years. And in terms of speaking to aging and what that process can do to a family it probably the most realistic, touching and suspenseful piece of work I’ve ever seen.

Interestingly while the Descendants presents the problems faced my a family man when he discovers that his comatose wife has been having an affair, The Separation presents the problems encountered in caring for an aging parent captured by dementia.

In both cases the children do what they can to help the adults make sense of the situation, and to function in it. But we are always stuck in our own DNA and habits and triggers and when they don’t align with each other the Drama ensues.

I found both films worth seeing; but The Separation is more layered with the complexity of life, the complexity that we often wish could be simplified into “love conquers all”.  Closer to the truth is that love does not conquer; it may shine light; it may bring warmth; but it cannot live alone.

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Adjusting to Aging

I said to my doc, “I don’t know which pains mean something is wrong and which ones only mean that I’m getting old.”

“That’s because you’ve never been 73 before.”

And that, just about says it all. In some ways the  decades from 20 to 70, if you are in decent shape, have a certain similarity about them. You pretty much get up and go where you want to go, when you want to.

But in the later 60’s and from the on, aches come suddenly without warning and last longer. Getting up from a chair the wrong way can result in a twist or a sprain that simply doesn’t make any sense and has no business happening.

I mention this because it isn’t often mentioned: aging after 70 is a foreign country and requires learning a new language.

 

 

 

 

 

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Into the Silence

Thursday, November 3, 2011       Into the Silence

Into the silence of the soul

Where words shrug themselves

Into helplessness,

Where ideas wander looking for the shelter of a home,

I watch the disappearance of my self.

Small voice, dimming eyes,

Ears that miss the message

But hear the tone,

The pieces of my body are in place

But re-arranged in function.

Inward and outward collide and

Coalesce into notes

Scribbled in haste

Copying the music

Some Pied Piper is playing.

I am summoned.

We are all summoned one way or another; summoned into this life and summoned out of it.  Much of what we do while we are here is try to figure out a way to dodge that last summons, to make fast friends with Whoever put us here to keep us safe and keep us in our best selves at some forever place.

That prayer doesn’t necessarily leave us as we age, but it does seem to find new ones surrounding it: don’t let me get too sick, please; spare me from the debilitations, from the clumsiness, from the dropping things, from the run-away memory that leaves me to go and sun itself on some island I’ve only dreamt about.

These are the kinds of things we find it so difficult to talk about with the very people who need to hear it: our family, our friends, our caretakers. In part we don’t want to burden them. But that’s only part of it. We very much don’t want to trigger the empty soothings that are sent to us, but meant for themselves.

Certainly witnessing  our implosion, the physical, emotional and psychological shrinking into what we used to be and are now becoming cannot be easily endured. But the paradox is this: the more we avoid that reality as it becomes manifest, the more difficult it becomes. It seems we need to try as much as we can to embrace the moment by moment of the process, to hold ourselves and each other that other reality, the reality of our shared love.

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In the Beginning

In the beginning: the wonderful way all stories start. With or without those particular words, that is the way they start. “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep…..”

We read our way into the story in front of us, and I would say, we live our way into the story of our life. Of course at one age or another we learn that all stories, including our own, end.

This combination of pages will be devoted to engaging this reality with a sense of good humor. There is only one way out of old age. Facing that reality we construct out of our experiences something to believe about it, something that makes some kind of sense out of it.

I want us to make sense out of the end game leading up to the cessation of our lives as we know them.  And I guess I’ve always believed that humor helps us do that.

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