Jane Barton

Greetings one and all…

Today I am blessed to be writing this reflection while taking a bit of R&R. Every September, I celebrate the fall season and the birthday of my best friend somewhere in the mountains of Colorado. And every year, we are treated to the vibrant golds and oranges offered by the aspens of the area. This year is picture perfect—blue skies, glorious aspen, mild temperatures, and soft breezes. Consequently, we are taking advantage of every opportunity to savor the setting—hiking every day, soaking up the sunshine and blue skies, and giving thanks for all that Mother Nature offers.

As we witness the changing of seasons, I am reminded of the journey of aging. As we age, we also witness and experience the changing of seasons. Spring initiates the journey of life—the birth of all living creatures. We evolve through the Summer and Fall seasons of life. And Winter is the season of physical decline and preparation for death. Since my best friend celebrated a birthday this week, we chatted about the challenges as well as the opportunities of aging. With fewer days ahead than behind, we discussed our hopes and fears for the future.

One of the greatest challenges for the aging population in the United States is the society in which we live. Ageism is alive and well! Consequently, elders are often diminished and demeaned merely because of their advanced age—to the detriment of all concerned in my humble opinion. Younger generations miss the opportunity to leverage the experience and hard-earned wisdom of elders. And elders are denied the opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways—mentoring the next generation.

This week, my best friend (who is a few years older than I) expressed her frustrations with our cultural attitudes and policies related to the aging population. She noted everything from insurance benefits to interactions with younger people in her place of business. Like millions of other “older” people, she bristles when ignored and/or discounted merely because of her age. So, she took GREAT delight in her discovery of the perfect message in a local shop. When shopping along Main Street in one of the resort towns of Colorado, we happened upon a sign that read, “Live Your Life, Forget Your Age.” This has always been my friend’s mantra for LIFE—and will continue to be so! As such, she will march to her own beat. She will chart her own course. And she will blaze a trail for other adventurous souls to follow! As her friend, I will be cheering her on every step of the way—while blazing a trail of my own! Care to join us?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I invite you to share your perspective on the caregiving journey. Make suggestions. Pose questions. Provide resources. Share your story. Coming together and sharing, we will improve the process for one and all. I look forward to continuing the conversation next month. Til then, enjoy the moment and blessings to you and yours…Jane W. Barton

Do you have a question for Jane? Please email us at coaarp@aarp.org and we will be in touch soon!

 

Jane W. Barton, MTS, MASM, CSA is a passionate speaker, writer, and listener. Jane is the founder of Cardinal, LLC, a consulting firm that provides educational programs to assist people in confronting the daunting challenges posed by aging,  serious illness and disability. Jane is well-versed in the areas of grief and bereavement, caregiving, hospice and palliative care, change and transition, and spirituality and health. She presents innovative, transformational programs to community members, healthcare providers, pastoral caregivers, clergy, funeral service providers, and national audiences to improve the experience of people and families challenged by serious, advanced, or terminal illnesses. Previously, Jane served as Director of Education for a hospice and palliative care educational institution. She has also served as a hospice chaplain and bereavement facilitator in hospice and palliative care. Jane is a certified Spiritual Director as well as a Certified Senior Advisor. In a former life, she worked as a financial services representative and an exploration petroleum geologist and manager.