More of us are living longer, and sometimes our bodies are in better shape than our minds as we hit 80-90 years and beyond of age. I am seeing this dynamic in my mother-in-law, who is 92 and can still walk a mile and a half around a mall with few breaks, but who experiences memory gaps that frighten her and challenge that brilliant mind that conquered crosswords in pen and dominated all of us in Scrabble not so long ago.
Seeing her change and decline has been a life lesson to all of us that this may be our future as well, and we need to think now about how we want our lives to be then.
I recently read an article about advance directives that take dementia, senility, and the aging brain into account and I thought it made good points and presented options in a creative and logical way. From the New York Times: A Plan for When Your Mind Fades.
My husband and mother and I have all completed our choices in these directives, and it may be something you want to consider.
The most important thing you can do is to discuss these decisions with your family before they become a reality. As the brain ages, the ability to problem solve and think logically can slip away, and often the decisions that are made at that point come from a place of fear and anxiety. People rarely make good decisions when under that kind of stress and it is a special kind of fear when you can’t trust your own mind or memory any longer.
So talk about it now. Make some plans and decisions and it may be the most important gift you give to your family who is dealing with their own fears and anxieties as Mom or Dad fades into a person they may not even recognize.