Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young, whether at twenty or eighty. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.—Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company (1863-1947
Hearing from readers has really brightened my summer! As you know, we have been working on a name change and folks are sending in thoughtful names and comments. The contest will remain open another week, so please send in your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Bryce at 301-464-7448, extension 111.
Your suggestions and observations will result in the column offering better solutions, resources and reading suggestions than ever. Specific questions are always welcome. If they cannot be answered in the column, I will make every attempt to answer them individually through e-mail or letter.
Thinking about the possible name change made me think of a column I had written with the help of my jewel of a paralegal, Josie. The column was written so long ago that it actually made it into the first Senior Moments book. An individual very close to both of us was having difficulty transitioning to her age and her life, and we were struggling to find a way to encourage her.
We came up with a new idea and a new name suggestion for seniors. The column has been updated to account for changes through the years, but I thought you might like to be reminded of it inasmuch as we are discussing suitable names. Here it is:
Abraham Maslow includes being needed in his list of the “love needs.” Each of us has a desire to be needed by others.
It’s true that most healthy adults are, in fact, needed by their spouse, by their boss, by their employees, by their infants, their Girl Scout, their high school graduate. They are needed to pay for the wedding, to spoil the grandchildren and, finally, to care for their own parents.
As we age, we need to create opportunities and “lifescapes” for ourselves to feel needed again.This is achieved, in some cases, with phenomenal success. Becoming a Foster Grandparent is a well-known example, and one that has a dual outcome, for even children need to feel needed.
Some seniors cannot bring themselves to pursue or cooperate with these opportunities. Perhaps they are ever hopeful that their situation will change and they will be able to do all the things they once did and won’t have to resort to participating in opportunities for seniors. Some just cannot move past it. They won’t volunteer at the senior center, or consider assisted living, or join a senior’s choir because “old people” are there. They find something somehow demeaning about the entire situation, so they won’t learn adaptive skills to match their current capabil¬ities. So they waste away, full of sadness and regret, feeling misunderstood and unloved.
Well, I’m ready to propose a whole new approach. Frankly, I think “un-needed” just needs a better PR man, and I volunteer! We will stop the poor-pitiful-Pearl approach and celebrate the status of being unneeded! What, you ask? Are you saying being unneeded is a good thing? Exactly! It certainly can be. Despite how some people may feel right now, unneeded is not the same as being useless. It is not the same thing as being ready for the trash heap. It is not synonymous with being put out to pasture. Indeed not. Not in a million years. Consider this:
Unneeded is restful-There is no excuse not to nap in my favorite easy chair.
Unneeded is creative-Finally, I can write my memoirs.
Unneeded is freedom-I don’t have to adjust my life by someone else’s schedule.
Unneeded is hope-There is time to imagine unlimited, wondrous future events.
Unneeded is adventurous-So much to see and do, and finally enough time.
Unneeded is inspiring-Watching others lead by the example we have set.
Unneeded is beautiful-Time to sit still and enjoy the sunset, or the sunrise.
Unneeed is loving – time to sit back and watch someone you love bustling about.
unneeded is leisurely-I can lollygag as long as I want.
Unneeded is freeing- No one expects alot from me.
This, I say, is a new day. Maslow taught that humans also have a desire to belong to groups: clubs, work groups, religious groups, family, gangs, etc. That need to belong is also in the category of “love needs.” So, if you are reading this and feel unneeded and unloved, you have a choice. Feel sad and depressed and let those feelings eventually destroy your physical health, or Unneeded Friends of Senior Moments, unite! Contact someone you think may also feel unneeded and start a club! If those “red hat ladies” can do it, so can you! If you have physical limitations, you may have to use the phone or e-mail. That’s okay. Just do it.
Band together as friends and fellow-sufferers and challenge the world. Here is a suggested name for your new undertaking. The Fabulous UNs: Unbelievable uses for the UNder used! You can see that “Fabulous UNs” has an acronym of “FUN.” So, we can also call the Fabulous UNs “The FUN Faction.”
There is no end to where you can go with this. Come on. Turn those lemons into lemonade. Make it fun, admirable, sexy and desirable to be Unneeded-a Fabulous UN.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to hearing from you. Stay well. See you next week.