Aging is something that ultimately we all have to face. Everybody reaches a point when they’re not quite as sharp mentally, and physically they may need some assistance. In most cases, before we have to deal with our own aging, we face the aging of our loved ones. Dr. Melanie Merriman is a hospice consultant with a focus on the entire system of healthcare in relation to illness and growing old.
Dr. Merriman likens the process of her own mother aging to clenching a net beneath a balancing tightrope walker, waiting for the inevitable fall. Her memoir, Holding the Net, details the pitfalls of caring for her defiant mother, as her independence is challenged by the aging process. She says that most people wait too long to have conversations about growing old. Instead of being proactive, most wait to discuss the need for assistance or the move to a nursing home until it’s time to make those tough decisions. She also adds, it’s important for both parents and children to discuss what they expect from each other when the point is reached that assistance is needed.
Joy Loverde, author of Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?, adds to the discussion by asking the question what do you want for yourself when you grow old? She stresses that relationships constantly evolve. Friends, and even family, come and go. It’s up to you to envision and plan for your own retirement and aging. Of course, a lot of it comes down to financials. Even if you’re on your own, many services and care options are available for the right price.
For many, independence is an idea entangled in pride and the fear of not being able to control the future. Dr. Merriman says dependence on others as you age is not weakness. The hardest part of planning is getting started, but a simple Google search for aging agencies in your area is a great place to start.
Melanie Merriman, author, Holding the Net: Caring For My Mother On the Tightrope of Aging
Joy Loverde, author, Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?
We all tell a ‘white lie’ every now and then. Most of the time the motive is to be more polite or friendly. This is what Matthew Lupoli, social scientist at University of California, refers to as a prosocial lie. A recent study by Lupoli concluded that compassion plays a large role in prosocial lying. When it came to giving feedback to others, subjects feeling compassion were more likely to tell a prosocial lie and the extent to which they lie increased. Lupoli adds that there are situations where prosocial lying can cause damage. Sometimes people need to hear honest criticism to improve.
Lupoli also asserts that people weigh honesty and kindness when making the decision of whether or not to lie. Another factor is the potential uncomfortableness of being completely honest, as well as the cost of getting caught in a lie.
Dr. Paul Eckman, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California San Francisco, says most people aren’t very good at recognizing lies, partially because they don’t want to go through the conflict of exposing a lie. In addition, Dr. Eckman asserts that in many situations people don’t really want to know the truth. He offers the example of a teenage son lying about not using drugs. Most parents don’t want to believe their kids are using drugs, so it’s easy to convince themselves it’s true.
Dr. Eckman also explains micro-facial expressions, very brief expression that occur when feeling a strong emotion. When it comes to detecting lies, he says polygraphs are about as successful as blind chance, but by observing micro-facial expressions Dr. Eckman claims a 95% success rate.
Matthew Lupoli, social scientists, University of California, San Diego
Dr. Paul Eckman, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of California, San Francisco
As loved ones age, tough decisions need to be made on finances, housing, and other concerns, and these decisions need to be made far earlier than they typically are. This is especially true if a person does not have family to act as support and caregiver. Two experts discuss managing the transition from complete independence as we age.
Lies aren’t always bad. Often, they’re told to be polite, and compassionate people are most likely to tell whoppers. But as the stakes of lies rise, honesty trumps kindness. Yet few people are ever able to distinguish when they’re being told lies. Experts explain.
Some hospital units have set up handshake bans because too few healthcare workers wash hands well enough to keep from spreading germs. The general public is even worse at washing hands, which has caused spread of serious disease. Some experts say handshakes foster important human connections and oppose bans. Experts discuss and describe what it takes to wash hands well enough to be “clean.”
Dr. Mark Sklansky, Professor and Chief, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
Donna Cardillo, registered nurse and inspirational speaker, “The Inspirational Nurse”
Dr. Pam Marquess, Atlanta pharmacist
Dr. Wilma Wooten, Public Health Officer, County of San Diego (CA)