Life becomes harder and more complicated when you grow old. I'm not all the way there yet, but my parents are. We moved my mom into memory care a couple months ago, and I will be heading back in a few weeks to move my dad into assisted living. The packing and physical move were the easy part. The hard part is the emotional and mental adjustment to living in a new place, which is difficult for anyone let alone for someone with Alzheimer's or frail health. I'm thankful for my parents and how God has kept them, but I also want to use this situation to learn now before it becomes harder to do so. On the drive home, I shared with my daughter some lessons I want to learn while I still can. I wrote them down to help me remember. Maybe they will help you too.
1. Don't wait to de-clutter. The saying goes, "You can't take it with you," and maybe my daughter won't want to take it with her either. Ask what items would be meaningful to her and don't assume that she has the same attachment. Give things away so others can use and enjoy them now.
2. Accept my mortality. I will grow old and die barring Christ's return in my lifetime. Make plans accordingly in wisdom, not in fear. Prepared legal documents make decisions and transitions easier.
3. Accept my present limitations with humility and the limitations of others with compassion. This will prepare me as my limitations grow.
4. Learn to accept change and receive help now while it is easier to adjust. Refusing help and resisting change makes it harder for those who have my best interests at heart.
5. Learn to give up control. It's an illusion anyway because the Lord is the only one who is truly in control. To quote a good friend, "God's got it." I don't and realizing it will make the reality of not being in control much easier.
6. Invest in community. People and the memories we make with them matter more than stuff.
7. Cultivate patience. I will only need it more, not less, in the future.
8. Build a solid foundation of the doctrine of God. A small, weak, and truncated God will not withstand the trials of aging. "When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay."
9. Find my ultimate worth and meaning in Christ, not in what I do or in my physical and mental abilities.
10. While I should take care of this temple of the Holy Spirit, there is a better body awaiting for me that will never know what it is to be sick or to sin. Hope in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
Photo credit: By Jules Grandgagnage [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
(Updated from a previous post on my personal blog.)