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Many of you know my life changed, expanded, two years ago when my husband began dialysis and we decided to do the process at home. I was the "doer", he the receiver of treatments. I chose not to go to medical school and this is a medical procedure I trained to do requiring me to insert two needles into his vein and artery 4 days a week. We are a good team. We managed, though my anxiety at the thought I could kill him each time he had a treatment became the elephant in the room. We had to talk about it.

I knew he preferred being at home, cozy, good coffee service and music or TV to his liking.

This is hard.

After being away for a week were he went into a center, I realized how calm and relaxed I was. The change was physically evident and definitely emotionally evident. We had to change course.

We talked. We worried. I had to let go of being the "best" one for him.

He had to let go of being in the comfort of his home.

Four months ago Bob began in center. It's a challenge. It's not convenient. But we are both more relaxed and able to create a schedule that fits us. Three days a week he is in treatment and I drive and pick him up. It's working.

I'm sharing this because I have been teaching my classes on The Last Gift Box, talking about our houses full of stuff, who gets what, is it fair and how to have the difficult conversations with our kids and our parents about aging issues.


And it is doable. I've learned some tricks, had others share advice and I am convinced the conversations are important and a gift. When we had the conversations with our parents about not driving, moving, health care, finances, how they wish to die it was so hard. I did not know as much. I did not know about the 40/70 rule. When we were 40 and our parents were 70 we should have begun the discussion. Not when we were desperate to take care of an emergency!

I ask my class attendees if they talked to their kids about sex. Eyes pop open. I'm not asking about now, but back when the kids and we were young - because if we could not discuss the difficult topic of sex, puberty, lust vs. love, how can we possibly talk to them about our wishes for aging? We are not suppose to age any more that we could admit to having sex to our teenage children. It's all to be handled with magic and wishes. I'd love to wish dialysis away. I'd love to wish memory loss away. Wishes didn't get me a pony and won't take care of the conversations I need to begin, and continue, with our kids about my concern, my wishes, my plan. AND I HAVE TO BE THE ONE TO OPEN THE CONVERSATION - just like I had to begin the preteen sex conversation. It's part of being an adult, parent and elder.

I assume we all want to maximize our independence. So involve your family and friends to discover ways to maintain your mobility, transportation, adventuring, socializing. It takes pondering. What is important to you? to ride a bike, swim, hike, walk to the library, go to your book club, play golf, garden,

fix the car? Make a list. Have ideas ready to share.

Most adult children think parents want to move in with them if the parents can no longer stay in the family home.

In national surveys older adult and adult children said the most difficult conversation is about parents moving.

What do you want? Think about it now. Share your ideas with your kids.

They will be thrilled to know you are even considering options, including how to remain in your home.

These conversations are not one stop talks. These take place over many months, years. It is possible, with forethought, humor, patience and in our house a nice bottle of Dad's wine. Invite whomever is going to be involved in this aging process with you and begin. You, we, can do this. If I can be honest enough to face my fears talking to our kids about drugs, sex and rock 'n roll I can put on my grown up face and begin talking about our aging selves.

Please share with me ideas you have to create a successful space and way to talk with those you love.

It is our Best Gift (Box)



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