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Matt Von Pinnon, Published May 02 2010

Von Pinnon: Occasional series tackles issues surrounding aging

Few of us prepare to grow old. And most of us certainly don’t prepare to lose our independence as we age. Not in these parts, where stubborn independence is almost a birthright.

But it happens – we grow old and, despite our best intentions, most of us will eventually need help from someone else. It’s the circle of life. We are born helpless and dependent and, unless something intervenes or we’re incredibly lucky, we become more helpless and dependent before we die.

We don’t like to talk about these things as families, as friends. Doing so acknowledges our mortality. So the questions and answers sit in the shadows until there’s a crisis, and sometimes not even then do we really tackle them head on.

I know this, having dealt with some of the challenges associated with aging in my own family. One of my grandparents had to be moved into a nursing home and later assisted living because of dementia. Another eventually couldn’t take care of himself without hired help. And yet another moved in with a daughter until his death, she taking care of him even as he was bedridden in her home for a lengthy period of time.

Our family never really prepared for these issues. They just eventually happened. They were difficult for our families, partly because we felt unprepared, partly because the options, costs and rules associated with such moves were mind-boggling at a time when emotions were already frazzled.

Beginning today, The Forum is hoping to change all this. We’re going to bring these tricky issues associated with aging to the forefront in an occasional series we’re calling “Transitions.” And we’re asking for your help in both generating ideas and questions we can help answer for our readers as well as helping each other find solutions to our problems. By bringing these issues out in the open and relying on each other, we’re confident we can solve some of these particularly prickly problems within our families:

Can Dad not see well enough to drive anymore? How do you get him to surrender his keys?

Should Mom be climbing stairs in her two-story anymore? How do you help protect her?

Should Mom and Dad trust their nest egg to an unscrupulous nephew? How do you raise this issue within the family and keep it in tact?

This is the tip of the iceberg. We want to hear your ideas. If you have questions, chances are some of your neighbors are wondering, too. We’ll try to answer them. We’ll try to be a resource, a trusted friend.

If you have a comment or story idea to share, please send it to Dave Olson at dolson@forumcomm.com, or mail it to Dave Olson, The Forum, PO Box 6022, Fargo, ND 58107.


You may also call (701) 241-5555. Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum.

Reach him at (701) 241-5579.