Aging Gayfully – Anticipating Change
Preparing Ourselves for Unexpected Change: Let’s say you live alone, perhaps
with a cherished pet for company, and wake up in the middle of the night with an
alarming tightness in your chest. Concerned that it could by a symptom of a heart
attack, you call 911 and are taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency room.
After some tests, it is determined that you need heart surgery and will be
hospitalized for some days followed by a period of bed rest at home.
Who will look after your pet while you are in the hospital? Who will look in on
you while you are recuperating at home? Who will do your shopping, pick up your
prescriptions, do your laundry, and drive you to follow-up appointments? Like
preparing for an earthquake, we need to have a plan in place for unexpected age-
Evaluating Our Capacity for Change: Studies being done of LGBT elders are
finding that the challenges we have faced as a minority have made us more
resilient. Our lives have been full of experiences that tested us, some of them
planned, but many of them unexpected. What qualities did we possess or learn that
enabled us to cope with those challenges and perhaps even grow from them? Was
it keeping a sense of humor? Was it resourcefulness? Could it have been
stubbornness, persistence or even anger that called forth the courage and skills we
needed? When facing an unexpected and challenging change, it helps to remember
what got us through past ones!
Choosing Our Responses to Change: Whenever we are confronted with a
challenging situation, we have a spectrum of choices ranging between the two
extremes of resistance and surrender. Our responses can range from (1) a “flight
or fight” reaction of denying or attacking the problem to (2) finding ways to
modify the situation to (3) learning ways we might adapt to the situation to (4)
learning to simply accept and live with the situation. However these are not
necessarily stages or phases that we move through from one to the other. More
than likely we will find ourselves employing all these responses simultaneously,
finding parts of the situation we may be able to ignore or modify while also
making adjustments in the way we perceive and accommodate it.
In my next blog, “Knowing Where to Turn,” we will look at how we can identify
resources that may help us continue to meet our changing needs as we age.
Please join us on June 23 rd 4 – 6 pm at Rossi’s in Sonoma for a “Gay Pride Tea
Dance and Mixer” for LGBT Seniors!
Buz Hermes is co-facilitator of the Sonoma Valley LGBT Seniors Group and a former staff
member of Spectrum’s Senior Outreach Program. He is currently offering 8-week “Aging
Together With Pride” workshops sponsored by Adult and Aging Services for LGBT seniors. He can be reached at [email protected] or (707) 227-6935