TO ALL OF MY FAMILY MEMBERS,
There will be a day, when I may stop doing things for myself, but they will still be important for me to do.
Who will do them?
Who will make sure I carry them out?
I will need you to help me do the things that are essential to my health and wellness and state of mind. I will need to be reminded to do them or even have you do them with me, so I can maintain a quality of life that all seniors deserve to have. If for some reason you are not taking care of your own needs, please don’t limit mine. Use my deep down (though not always stated) desire for quality of life to lift you up with me. This is what you did for me when you were a child. You motivated me to care better of myself and now is the time for me to return the favor. Throughout my life I have also worked to make sure all I care for have their core needs met for health, wellness and a joyful state of mind. Can you be there for me as well?
Here is what I ask from you at the very least:
- I NEED MY LOVED ONES TO HAVE ALL OF MY CONTACT INFORMATION ON DOCTORS, CAREGIVERS, NEIGHBORS, ETC. Perhaps a master list that gets sent to everyone in my family will be the best way to handle this! Also, please make sure I have a copy of this list myself in my wallet or purse and on my refrigerator. (If it can be laminated this is even better!)
- AS MUCH NATURAL LIGHT AS POSSIBLE. Even if I want to stay inside and close the blinds, don’t let me! Make sure I get outside in the daylight every day for at least ½ to 1 hour. If it is raining, make sure I have all of the blinds open so I get enough natural light! This will help my sleep cycles and other body functions to balance. I need exercise, fresh air and natural light to thrive!
- PLEASE HELP ME EXERCISE EVERY DAY, especially if I am ever inside without the ability to take a walk. Have me use the stairs as much as possible; have me stretch and dance and do toning exercises. Take me wherever you can to get me walking briskly and move every part of my body in every way possible every day.
- PLEASE MAKE SURE I GET PLENTY OF VEGGIES, FRESH AND COOKED. I need to eat a lot of whole grains and legumes and fresh fruits. I may get lazy and not want to cook for myself. I will need you to cook good food for me! I don’t want a lot of fattening foods or breads or pastas or sweets. Of course, I love these foods and will gladly eat them if they are served to me, but they will be so bad for me. I need for you to take the lead and make sure I am getting the best, especially that oatmeal every morning. A nice pot of homemade soup is something that will help me stay healthy too. P.S. Please don’t microwave the nutrients out of my food (once in a while is ok, but not every day).
- I NEED TO TAKE A SHOWER OR BATH AT LEAST 2-3 TIMES A WEEK. If I get lazy and don’t want to bathe, make sure I do anyway! This is a big issue that I need for you to monitor. Don’t take my word for it! I need to have personal hygiene handled. (Check my fingernails and toenails and give me regular manicures and pedicures-at least every 2 weeks.)
- I NEED MY SHEETS AND TOWELS AND CLOTHES WASHED ONCE A WEEK. Don’t take my word for it. (I may say I have handled things just to keep things easier for both of us.) Make sure my living space is clean and that I have fresh air and sunshine coming into my room.
- READ TO ME PLEASE! Because you know how much I hunger for a good story, please find out what my favorite stories are today so you can read them to me when I can’t read to myself! I adore a clever and beautifully written sentence and find so much joy in hearing them! You can also read me my own writing and journals (or your writing). This may be fun for both of us. I love great movies of course, but I should never stop experiencing the value of good literature.
- I NEED TO EXPERIENCE NEW THINGS ALWAYS. Get me out to museums, live performances, especially great singing and dancing! I love all kinds of new things that are happening from all walks of life. Take me to cultural activities and to neighborhoods for ethnic food and experiences so I can feel connected to the world’s people and feel like I am traveling again. If this is not possible, please let me watch movies set in other cultures. I am a child of the world and need to feel this always.
- I NEED TO HAVE REMINDERS OF MY LOVED ONES. Show me pictures and videos of all of you children and grandchildren and future great-grandchildren. I want to see you as you were when you were babies and as you have grown.
- I NEED TO SEE AND HUG MY LOVED ONES. Please make sure I have contact with all of you, my loved ones, as much as is possible, even if it is not convenient for everyone! Families are never convenient, though they are necessary! You can just sit me in a corner to observe the goings on of the family and I will be happy if that is all I am capable of.
- I WANT SOMEONE TO LISTEN THE STORIES OF MY LIFE. Ask me to tell you my stories for as long as I am able. I have so many to share and want to know you are curious about my life. I just may surprise you with one you haven’t heard before!
- I NEED PEOPLE AROUND ME TO HAVE A LOT OF PATIENCE WITH ME. Please, please, please humor me when I repeat myself. If you really want to help me feel as normal as possible, pretend that whatever I say is the first time I have said it or asked it. I don’t need the humiliation that comes from realizing my memory is failing me.
- PLEASE TREAT ME WITH RESPECT ALWAYS! Do not ridicule me, tease me, or show your frustrations about my shortcomings as I age. I want to feel that you respect me and do not look down on me for aging. I also want to know that you still respect me for all of the years I have on you, no matter how much I may not show it.
- REMIND ME TO STAY POSITIVE, not pessimistic because we all know that attitude is everything! I may need to be coaxed at times to remember that everything is OK and that there is nothing to worry about.
- MAKE ME LAUGH! Throw humor and laughter into my life whenever possible; even if it is a funny YouTube video or email someone writes.
- I WANT TO BE ABLE TO ENJOY THE LITTLE PLEASURES IN LIFE. (in moderation of course) like a small piece of dark, dark chocolate or a buttery piece of anything! Oh how I hope I never have to stop enjoying the taste of a perfect cup of dark roast coffee or a perfect ½ glass of red wine. If for some reason I can’t have these things in the future, can you find other things that are almost as good so I can have those little pleasures please?
- I NEED TO HAVE MY BRAIN STIMULATED. Involve me in playing games when you can. I love them so and love to keep my mind active. Even the simplest game will be okay but don’t dumb me down because I may be able to handle more than you think. Be creative with me please!
- I WANT TO BE REMINDED OF WHAT I HAVE CREATED IN MY LIFE. Show me the things I have created in my life, like family projects, accomplishments, crafts, structures, writing, etc.
- I WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO FRIENDS (even if I can’t do it by myself or pretend I don’t want to) I may be afraid of making a fool of myself because I have changed but don’t let that stop me! (Maybe you can keep me connected to everyone on my Facebook page for me if I am not able and show me photos.)
- I WANT TO KNOW THAT MY BELONGINGS WILL GO TO PEOPLE THAT APPRECIATE THEM. If I get close to death and no one in the family wants my precious things, please find someone who will appreciate them who understands me.
- IF I AM ABLE TO TRAVEL, GET ME OUT OF THE HOUSE ONCE IN A WHILE. Take me to travel with you when you can. I really am a good travel partner and may still be so when I am older. I love ‘good’ anything, wherever it may be and whatever it may be (that could even mean rap music or the latest music or dance craze or performance art craze)!
- DON’T LET ME ISOLATE MYSELF! I will always need to be around people on a regular basis; even those who are my age! I may act or say that I don’t, but deep down, I do. Help me with this.
- HAVE ME WRITE WHENEVER POSSIBLE BECAUSE IF YOU DON’T USE IT, YOU LOSE IT! Have me write in my journal for as long as I can hold a pen and write anything!!!!! It will help me keep my mind alive and create a record of my life up to the very end.
- I NEED TO SEE THE DOCTOR FOR REGULAR CHECK-UPS. Please make sure that they check everything. However, if a doctor prescribes any medication or treatment for me, ask them if it is necessary and if there is another option. If you don’t like what they say, get a second opinion. I do not believe that God’s plan is that we should automatically be medicated in our old age and I need you to advocate for me to be without medication if at all possible and to find other solutions based on the cause of my ills, not just the symptoms!
- DON’T DOPE ME UP ON MEDICATION JUST TO MAKE ME EASIER TO BE AROUND! In the long run, you may end up dealing with the side effects of the medication that are even worse than me being without medication.
- ENSURE I HAVE BEAUTY IN MY LIFE. Bring me to see things of beauty: flowers, trees, nature. I need to stay in touch with life in order to connect with my own will to live.
- I NEED TO FEEL USEFUL for as long as I am able. Give me things to do so I feel like I am contributing, but don’t work me too much! Even the littlest task can make me feel useful.
- RESPECT MY WISHES FOR DEATH, funeral, burial, belongings and any monetary distribution!
- SHARE MY CARE WITH OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS AND MAKE SURE YOU GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF PERSONAL TIME SO YOU HAVE MORE PATIENCE WITH ME!
- THIS MAY SEEM LIKE A LOT, BUT IT IS ACTUALLY WHAT YOU NEED TOO, SO HOPEFULLY AS YOU MAINTAIN MY QUALITY OF LIFE, YOU WILL DO THE SAME FOR YOURSELF!
Thank you loved ones for caring for me and being patient with me to the very end! I know it may be taxing, so once again, remember to divide up the duties so not one of you takes it all on! Remember that the ones who are doing the caregiving have their own needs too and that they need a break. That is where each one of you come in! I love you all and so appreciate who you are to me. I hope you will do the same for me! PART 2- HOW I WANT TO BE TREATED- THE NITTY-GRITTY DETAILS (Coming Soon).
Love, Mom, Christie, Grandma, Granny Pants