In Memory

"Robbie" Ram

Robbie Ram

This classmate could be you... could be me.  This "mate" could be any one of us.  

This space should be considered a safe space for any concerns a person might have about the future. 

Our "HOW'S YOUR HEALTH?" survey reveals some of us are in the best of health, and some of us are not.  

In reading Atul Gawande's book Being Mortal there are some interesting ideas about how to remain in one's own home, rather than having to spend our end of life in a smelly nursing home or an assisted living place.  

Forming a collective of people who are interested in remaining viable in their own space is the premise.  For an annual stipend of some agreed upon amount of money, the collective would staff a part-time director, a driver, a handyman, a yardwork gardener, a grocery shopper, and whatever other odd jobs we no longer feel able to do.  Hospice would be a familiar and calming interface to give advice rather than only used as a last resort.   

Because so many of us still live in Long Beach, that would be a natural place to form a collective.  


In any event, this page can serve as a place to give voice to concerns.  

We're all in that 1969 boat.


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11/05/22 05:59 PM #13    

Norena Prather (Thompson)

Many people are not aware of the Aid and Attendance benefit which is a monetary benefit that helps eligible veterans and their surviving spouses (widows / widowers) to pay for the assistance they need in everyday functioning (eating, bathing, dressing, and medication management).  With this assistance, a body would be able to remain at home.  Without it, their caregiver might put them in a facility.  

11/06/22 11:07 AM #14    

Bonnie MacEvoy

Good point, Norena. There are many benefits out there (at least until elections) to be used for assisting with this time of transition and potential family stress. It is always worth checking in with Hospice and with social services; they know the systems in and out. (btw, anyone have suggestions for living on social security and getting health care when we will not know from year to year [Johnson R WI] or every 5 years [Scott R FL] if we are even going to get it?)

It is always good to question the doctors. Cognitive issues are a moving target. When I trained, we learned that Alzheimer's was early dementia (before 60). Nothing was known of its location or other specifics. The definitions keep changing, and there is much more data now, but more needs to be accumulated and still it may not reflect your specific case. No one knows better than a person familiar with the patient's daily behavior and habits, and if something does not seem to work or feel right, request something different.

There is a tendancy in medicine to lean heavily on tests and diagnostic tools that really in the end may just give a clearer label to the situation but no change in care. Some of these tests can be scary and disorienting and are not worth the time and expense, let alone the stress. Be sure to always ask a physician why a test is being done; how it will impact the ongoing care. Also we reach an age where we are "just getting old" and doctors have less patience with the time and care it takes to talk things through and solve the situational issues that are more familial than clinical. This is were Hospice or social workers will shine; they really take the time and interest in teaching and facilitating choices.

There are few pills or treatments for what will aid us with "aging", especially in our 90's. Better to think about how to be comfortable, as independent as possible, and make known the kind of care and range of interventions we are willing to undergo and for how long in an effort to prolong our lives. This must be clear with your nuclear family, or this will struggle with it. Hands off me; I want my blankie, some lavender scent, and good music with my bed by the window. When I can't function or don't remember, no more food. Then a hole in the ground and a shroud.  Green Burial: 6 Options To Have an Eco-Friendly End Of Life (

11/07/22 10:49 AM #15    

Norena Prather (Thompson)

Thank you, Bonnie, for framing the question so that it's relatable.  Planning ahead is important. 

Deciding what you want, what you don't want, what you fear, what you love ... is the path.  

--- what to do, when you can no longer touch your toes ---

11/08/22 07:40 PM #16    

Alta Hayes (Solomon)

As a retired adult protective caseworker in Broome Co NY.  assessment in one's home is key. I remember I assess a case of concern for an adultly lady (unannounce home visit)  When i arrived she was making chocolate chip cookies. She stopped the conversation to take the cookies out of the oven and transfered them to a cooling rack.  No cookies were burnt.  Hell I always burn one batch when I bake cookies.  I told the nurse that I had no concerns.  My assessment was questioned.  (I can't remeber the concerns maybe confusion, forgetting or missing appts). My only concern was that she didn't offer a cookie right out oven that was still warm. I had to suffer.   But she was able to stay on task proformed several steps at the same time and had a clean kitchen.  

When I read my other classmates, when a doctor does these tests, did he look at the social stress, did the elderly lady have a UTI, was it during a time that a family member might of died no matter how long ago but such as several years but the same month.  Did the person have a trigger of past stress.  

Also is the person safe in their home, do they use sound judgemnt, do they have a good support system.  Do they get normal socialization to keep thier mind working, an so on

01/18/23 12:53 PM #17    

Michael Lipson

"A friend and I both turn 85 this year. He says we are like 10-year debentures that might get called early. His life-expectancy prediction may be generous, as the actuarial number is closer to 6 years. But the uncertainty raises the challenge of how to approach the final years. Endings have meaning. It is important to know when and how to leave each stage of life.

Macbeth laments: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more. It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.”

Style makes some departures elegant. In baseball, sensible retirements by Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams—who hit a home run in his final at-bat—contrast with the sad attempts of Willie Mays and Yogi Berra to play after they knew their skills were no longer worthy.

Leaving the stage at the right time demands self-awareness. I asked the diva soprano Beverly Sills how she knew when to retire, and she gave me this sensible answer: “I knew that to continue would not be worthy of what my audience deserved.” The wise thing for us old folks is to continue to self-audit our mental acuity and act in age-appropriate ways.


For me, the best example is from my former headmaster, whose lifelong objective was counsel from Voltaire’s “Candide”: “Il faut cultiver notre jardin”—“we must cultivate our garden.” The garden may be tiny and perhaps hidden, but it is mine to make of it as I want.

The key to contentment in old age is to define the aspects of life that remain within reach. The corollary is to surrender those things that are risky, silly or just plain stupid. My wife is my personal gate keeper, and there are doors that are firmly locked.

In the ninth decade of life, death is a looming omnipresence. As a lawyer, I learned not to ignore planning ahead. But I also learned the futility of trying to influence matters too far into the future. It is appropriate to leave final instructions and requests, but vital to realize the future will demand future wisdom. Injunctions from the grave are never valid.

One of the consolations of old age is the realization, as George Will has written, that one isn’t going to die young. Not everyone receives the gift of being an avuncular old soul whose voice is occasionally vibrant and who is capable of sharing pleasure and wisdom and even warmth and affection. Not all of us will avoid the grouch stage, and some of us may be self-centered and vain and impatient. Maybe we old-timers should increase the use of words of thanks and apology and politeness.

I will need to increase my patience with those who no longer accept values I believe are important like duty, honor and country. And I still embrace faith, hope and charity. But tending my own little garden might keep me from looking over the fence at what others are doing."


written by Fay Vincent in Jan. 17th issue of the Wall Street Journal.   Mr. Vincent is a former attorney and served as the eighth Commissioner of Major League Baseball

01/26/23 02:10 PM #18    

"Robbie" Ram

Some interesting comments here. However, I must point out that rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated! wink

01/27/23 05:30 PM #19    

Pat Morrison (Kultgen)

A  very good discussion.  Thanks to the above authors for causing me to pause. My genetics predict I should be fully functional into my early 90's then die quickly.  My plan is to get kicked in the head by a scared pony and die quickly! Either way, I enjoy life daily and have the advantage of a near death experience in the fall fo 2001 to lead me.

01/28/23 04:03 PM #20    

Jerry Muszynski



I was seconding your thoughts exactly about getting kicked in the head.  
I was kicked in the head quite severely when that plane crashed and I was down the tunnel of light, but they kick me out!  
not sure I want to know how long there is to be   
but I do know he doesn't tell us ahead of time  






01/30/23 08:00 AM #21    

Pat Morrison (Kultgen)

Jerry, I was wondering if you had a near death experience; you came so close! Thanks for sharing!

02/02/23 08:17 AM #22    

Jerry Muszynski

Yes Pat.  
All to come in the book.  
There's a certain English teacher at Millikan who will roll over if she knew I was writing a book! 
Best Jerry 

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