Sustainble Aging: Kind and Gentle Care

I just got back from Rhode Island – from another visit to my RI Dad and  then leaving my friend Barbara (who went down to RI with me)  at the train station  for her return to PA – just two more in the multitude of goodbyes.

Driving home to Vermont I listened to a beautiful CD  by the  Hallowell singers … Do visit their site.   For now I  want to say how strongly I feel that the journey from birth to death is simply a continuum that all humans travel and that ideally one would have kind and gentle care all along the way.

There’s a whimsical article comparing the beginning and end of live. I’ll try to find it to share with you.  Basically it says that it’s  going into the unknown whether you are leaving the safe womb which you have been happily inhabiting or departing the world you have known.  Both involve leaving  the familiar  for something mysterious. ..

Sustainable Aging – Glorious – Living Well

Oh what a beautiful morning! The sun is shining – the flowering trees are in full bloom and with the sun to rain ratio we’ve had in the past few days the green is vibrant.  I decided on my walk this morning that I wanted to mention LIVING WELL as a crucial part of Sustainable Aging .  What are you doing TODAY that makes your heart sing?  How are you spending your precious time?

Yesterday Barbara and I went to one of our favorite places – Stickney Brook to see it’s springtime garb.  We have been friends for 57  and 1/2 years!   We agree that it’s  grand being old enough to have a friend that long – and we are still learning how to best enjoy our visits with each other.  This was our Vermont time – she lives in Philly.  We both wandered taking photos — Yummmm.  Carpe Diem!

How about you? What do you want to be SURE you include in your day? Today?!

In this context I want to mention Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom by Mary Catherine Bateson. For further info, the book is listed in resources and is a very good read about the new era which has been added to human life – an era when we  have the wisdom of old age but are still active and well.  If you want some inspiration about life between 60 and 85 or so  take a look at this book.

Hope you have a wonderful day!


Brattleboro, Vermont: Letting Go & End of Life Discussions!

Two super events related to Sustainable Aging are happening this coming week  If you live in or near Brattleboro, Vermont do look into these offerings!

1)  Letting Go: An Aspect of Loving, a free wellness session, will be held at Brew Barry Conference Center at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital on Monday, April 30, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.  Cheryl Richards, MA, CT, End of Life & Grief Counselor and a Hospice Care Coordinator at Brattleboro Area Hospice, will facilitate. 

Learning how to let go of what was, and welcome what’s to come, requires practice!  Come join us for simple letting go exercises.  This session is helpful for anyone, whether you working on releasing minor daily aggravations, experiencing an illness, or saying goodbye to a relationship. 

To register for this free program, call Brattleboro Area Hospice at 257-0775.

2) HFA Teleconference:  End-of-Life Ethics:

Wednesday May 9

1:30 – 5:00 PM at The Marlboro College Graduate Center

The decisions that are made at the end of life affect not only the way that a person dies, but also the ways that survivors face their loss. This program uses a case study approach to examine ethical dilemmas that are likely to arise at the end of life, the principles of ethical decision-making and the effects of these decisions on staff and families.  Local panelists for this year’s presentation are Ryan Murphy, Dr. Carolyn Taylor –Olson and Dr. Robert Tortolani.

This free event is held at the Marlboro College Graduate Center from 1:30 – 5:00 PM.  Doors open at 1:00 and light refreshments will be served.  CEU credits are available.  Call the office to reserve a space 257-0775.

Brattleboro Area Hospice is a wonderful resource with an excellent library, classes and counselors.  It’s one of the great benefits of  living here!  I strongly encourage you to explore their services.


Continuum of Care

As we aggregate data through electronic medical records for the purposes of creating best outcomes based on scientific evidence, do we intend to use the same methodology for end of life care?

For me, every indication about the goals of evidence based medicine suggests that it is “system centered” as much as it is “patient centered.”  So what happens in end of life care when outcomes reflect the unique and personal wishes of the client/patient?  Science may no longer be an appropriate measure for outcomes.  Instead, we will use a far more subjective measure; quality of life.

I support advance care planning and regard a person’s carefully considered wishes to be inalienable.  Providing clarity about end of life choices helps with the process of transition from evidence based medicine to a chosen quality of life.  It provides all stakeholders; patient, physician, medical staff and family the ability to proceed with needed clarity and confidence in a continuum of care.

Sustainable Aging: Living Joyfully!

Yesterday I had the lovely opportunity to work with a long ago Breathing Space client/friend.  As I always used to do, we talked first about what she was hoping for in our work together – what her vision was.  THIS is where the bridge is for me between my past 16 years helping people organize and declutter and what I am doing now.

My recent posts here have been about dying well but that is only a piece of the picture for me. The other half  or more is LIVING wonderfully well! Funny – one could call it “My better half” –   really sorting out what you care about most, what you want to be sure to do while you can, how you best to use your precious time! How to relish LIFE!

Late afternoon sun light - Spring!


For me it is all wonderfully tied together.  Joy NOW — in the tiniest things .  It can help to remember that  life doesn’t last forever — in fact could be gone in a flash-  how you spend the moments you have does matter!

In Breathing Space work that meant not having STUFF around that you don’t really use or enjoy. That beautiful scarf that you never wore and never will – donate it to the Hospice store where someone else will be thrilled  to buy it for a few dollars and wear it themselves or maybe  give it  to someone else who will love how often people say “That’s gorgeous!”

How different is that from sorting out how you REALLY want to use the time  and energy you have?     How will you relish every day you are alive?





Sustainable Aging : Why Die?

Imagine if everyone could live forever…

An insightful 10  minutes by Connie Barlow.

The full 90 minute talk that this clip came from is described this way:  A naturalistic understanding of death, informed by deep-time awareness and mainstream science, offers real and satisfying answers to the question, “Why must we die?” Connie Barlow (known from her 4 science books and from the podcast “America’s Evolutionary Evangelists”) presented a 90-minute program in Ashland Oregon, July 2009, titled “Death Through Deep Time Eyes.” This 10-minute clip is the ending of that program. An earlier version of the entire program is available on her “Celebrating Evolution” DVD, available through the educational website

A related more recent  talk by Connie is described in our resource list.

Sustainable Aging: Respecting Your Choices & Exploring Possibilities…

Have you documented YOUR WISHES?

Thank you Lee for telling me about this excellent  March 30 article from the New York Times!  A calm voice of caring and reason.

Taking Responsibility for Death
More Americans should take the initiative to spell out what
treatments they do  and do not want by writing living
wills and appointing health care proxies.

Full Story:

There are amazing resources on this topic- books, websites, DVDs and you-tube.  Looking for help? Don’t miss our Resources.  Please send us additional  recommendations you have.  That is how we have accumulated much of our best material – more is always welcome!

We want to hear  your mullings ,  your suggestions,  and your stories.  Photos are also welcome!  Please  share anything you find particularly helpful relating to the topics of end-of-life and aging.

   Age 95 and going strong! 

This is a photo taken last Sunday. The new chair lift  looks pretty classy and makes the upstairs meeting room fully access.

p.s.  Please note that Hilary and I are very aware that end of life issues  can be treated as a political hot potato.  That is 100%  NOT  where we are coming from. This subject is both larger and more personal than any political party.

We see this as an opportunity for each and every individual to consider their whole  life  – their values,  their dreams, the people they hold most dear,  and how to best spend their final years, months, days, and minutes.