We recently attended our son’s wedding. It was beautiful. The weather was perfect and our son and his new wife couldn’t have looked more radiant. What amazed me the most, however, was the amount of planning that went into preparing for the big day.
Months before the ceremony our son’s fiancé (and he) began the process. Planning included the size and color of the calligraphy of the invitation, floral arrangements, seating at the wedding dinner, down to the ‘official’ color of the event.
I could not help but think that if American families put one FRACTION of the time and effort into planning their post-retirement years, disposition of their wealth, or end of life concerns that our son and his bride put into their wedding day’s activities, what a different world we’d live in.
But there’s more: They researched everything before making decisions. They shopped around for the best deals on floral arrangements, the wedding dinner, beverages, and which ‘officiant’ should perform the ceremony. Impressive, to say the least. They even wrote their own vows, which I compare to preparing one’s ethical will or end of life instructions: carefully crafted documents to reflect their hopes and aspirations.
So was how they reached decisions: through consensus, not a version of paper, rock, scissors, or taking an all-or-nothing approach. No, their decision making was transparent, un-rushed, and flexible – marked by a willingness to make adjustments if conditions warranted. What a model for us as we age and need to decide on how we wish to live the remainder of our lives.
Imagine not planning a wedding with all the trimmings for 80-plus persons until a day or two before the ceremony. Yet sadly, most of us avoid, postpone or neglect planning for our elder years until an emergency, or worse, a crisis hits. Usually, it’s a sickness or the sudden death of a loved one that prods us to plan. Then, we’re forced to make rushed, often un-researched decisions.
Perhaps, the time has come to create a new vocation: Elder Planner (think, wedding planner). Someone who can organize us BEFORE it hits the fan, to nudge us to think hard about where we might live if we lose our mobility, what legal documents to prepare or update, and how to inform loved ones of our plans.
Beyond Dispute Associates
© Sig Cohen and Beyond Dispute Associates, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sig Cohen and Beyond Dispute Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Carolyn Rondthaler says
Thanks Sig, for telling me about this. I posted it on my Facebook.
Nancy Radford says
You may be interested in an initiative called Everything in Place that I volunteer for. It’s run by our local hospice. http://www.stcuthbertshospice.com/267/2/Everything%20in%20Place.
I’m keen to get them reaching out more and think something like this could be done online as well (I’m trained in online mediation)…which would make it more accessible and affordable.
Happy to explore some options.
This is brilliant and many of us are eager to become Elder planners yet helping ordinary folk to embrace their mortality is far different than planning one of the most joyous days of your life.
I always tell my patients, we spend more time picking our some electronic than we do researching decisions that really impact our happiness.
Dixcy , ( friend of Carolyn’s)