Growing Old Is a Challenge

by Joe Steckler

President, Helping Seniors of Brevard

My 80-year-old brother said to me in a recent phone call, “Brother, you are old”. I thought about that and then replied, “Yes, I am”. Since I can’t change the fact that I am old, the real challenge is how I handle it. In my last Navy assignment I worked with 550 retired military personnel, only one of whom was younger than me. I learned a lot from them that influenced my ability to age well, then picked up additional skills in the ensuing 33 years. Now I want to pass along my knowledge in the hopes of helping others in their own aging processes.

One part of the aging equation that is often missing is knowledge of the care necessary for seniors to live safely and receive care when dementia or other disabilities set in. When a person can no longer manage activities of daily living, case managers can help locate the type of help they need, whether it is inside or outside the home. In the main, these resources can all be managed by professionals who know the system and can assemble the necessary care team.

But what about the person who needs care but, regardless of the difficulties, wants to remain where he or she is most comfortable? We often assume that those who need care are ready to receive it. There are many seniors not yet ready to give up the fight. With a little assistance, they may still be able to live as they choose. This foregoing thought is very important in helping the person changing their lifestyle to understand.

Try to avoid pushing or forcing a person to be placed. Letting such a person say, “I am ready, or, I think I may need more help” enables him or her to accept the use of a case manager to access the care required. A respectful and empathetic approach can really affect how the change in life style is received. Too often I have encountered situations where family members did not understand the need for the older person to accept their living transition; they were just told, “You are old.” It happens.

It would be a wonderful world if we did not have to talk about getting old. We do, but how we address such fact is an indication of our individual beliefs, the desire to help others, and our knowledge of the aging process and the tools we have to address that process.

Contact Helping Seniors at 321-473-7770, at, or at P.O. Box 372936, Satellite Beach, FL 32937.