<![CDATA[Carol Marak - Blog]]>Mon, 01 Mar 2021 16:00:45 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Are Single Seniors Needs Different From Partnered Seniors?]]>Mon, 01 Mar 2021 21:39:27 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/are-single-seniors-needs-different-from-partnered-seniors
If you ask members in the Elder Orphan Facebook group, you'll hear, "Duh, of course, the single and unassisted older individuals have different needs than the married or unmarried seniors with adult children.

The Distinct Needs  
The most glaring is having another person to count on. Even if the individual is widowed, and has offspring, in the back of her mind, she can count on a daughter or son to step up. However, one can argue that even a Mother can't count on a daughter or son. 

Research says, those living alone are hidden in plain sight, and professionals in the aging industry don't see us at all.  

For me, I think my life is very different from the attached counterpart because I have no one to rely on to "talk things over," for health concerns, medical decisions, and if I get sick.  Nor do I have another's help, a partner, to pay expenses, property taxes, rent or mortgage.

Furthermore, someone with an adult child or family member, has a high chance of getting help if one needs it. Most family members rally if a parent receives a cancer diagnosis, or had a stroke or a broken hip.

There is a difference between having kids out there somewhere and having none at all anywhere. 

How others experience the difference
"
We are SO different! If you are a homeowner, issues of maintenance and upkeep are solely my responsibility, On healthcare, no one to assist when I am ill and heaven forbid I need a procedure and someone to drive me there and back. What about the strange looks a person gets when one doesn't have an emergency contact to list. Or someone to take care of pets if hospitalized. I could go on and on but I need to go out and snow blow my driveway!"

"I think it is a big issue that is completely ignored. When I told the doctor that my ride to a colonoscopy moved out of town she just said I could reschedule. It was like talking to a wall. They don't get it. I said I had no one to take me and it didn't even register."

"The big ones for me, going everywhere alone. Most professionals assume (despite the stats) that everyone has a husband, or a wife, and two or three children. But that's not the case."

"I feel tremendously isolated, and people don't realize how cruel it feels when they ask about my children, husband. Wish I had a family but it never happened. 
We are a vast, untapped market of consumers with needs and wants."
​ 

"It will be interesting to see how the new Uber ride turns out. If it's a hit maybe they will step up with more services. I'm talking about them taking people to medical appointments with vetted drivers."

"When I remodeled the bathroom, every decision was mine to make. And the bill to pay. Now, I have appliances to replace, and the burden falls on me. I miss having a sounding board to run these kinds of questions by another person. Being an older adult without back-up is tough."

"All those above, plus the assumption that there's someone here to help you move furniture and crawl around on the floor, holding in buttons while plugging some other doodad when your cable goes out!"

The point is clear.  We have frustrations, true. I could argue that services do exist for most needs. To name a few:

Transportation - Uber and Lyft. And Uber has come up with a solution for rides to medical tests with the new Uber Health.

Affordable housing - Silvernest and other shared housing matching services are now available. But what about Assisted Living communities? Can we access residential housing for seniors with sliding scale services or menu driven pricing for the single person on a limited budget? (We want the kind in an upscale environment.) 

Socialization - a few companies mentioned above eliminates isolation. But let's think of other ways older individuals living in the country or in the suburbs could connect and expand their circle. I know a start-up that's creating a mentorship program between older adults and young children. They will connect via online video, in residential housing, or in the libraries to help one another. 

Food delivery issues are now solved by Walmart, Whole Foods, Amazon, and other delivery services. 

One member suggests, I'd ask them to structure and offer care programs through more than one lens: One that assumes an individual has no reliable family support; and one that facilitates self-advocacy and offers trustworthy assistance options.

Thinking outside the box, if a tech designer creates an app called, "Share MY Family," then a person having two, three, and more children, would agree to "rent out" or share one adult or teenager for a couple of hours. 

Can you think of a sharing service that would help us? 

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<![CDATA[Find Purpose]]>Thu, 25 Feb 2021 22:31:04 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/find-purpose
​Intention with Purpose 
It’s a way to be in the world, living life, on your terms.

Even after retiring from a job, raising a family, earning one or several degrees, and moving into a lifestyle that suits a kick-back perspective, older adults yearn to tread forward and beyond. 
Makes sense in theory, and it explains why:
  • Retirees seek opportunities
  • Older adults prefer activity
  • Some singles want to date
  • Humans prefer healthy lifestyles
  • Individuals seek creative development
And the thing is, research shows that an idle existence opens the door to isolation, depression, and health risks. That’s why humans furiously search to:
  • Find a sense of purpose in various aspects of life
  • Aim to discover mastery
  • Create valuable experiences
  • Seek ways to connect
  • Get involved to broaden interests
We hear that the curse of growing older means painful joints, less income, and for some intermittent dissatisfaction. But what the heart seeks, if we dig deep enough and be honest with ourselves, is to stay closely connected to a meaningful life.  
A full or part-time retirement doesn’t have to be a dead end, or final destination. Instead, it’s a period in life that can provoke inspiration, an enlivened journey, and enjoying a life that matters. 

Work: Retiring from a job can create disengagement and solitude. Being idle doesn’t add much value to our lives or our personal economy.
Not having a job can affect attitude, self-worth, and emotions. If we become depressed, it can cause cognitive decline.

Research says how we feel is linked to what and how we think. Having a job, whether full-or part-time, can enhance our lives. 

Health: Being unhealthy is costly, painful, and opens us to vulnerabilities.
However, it’s safe to say that if you have good health, your potential becomes possible. And fulfillment is achieved. Even small measures of physical activity helps with brain function. 

Activities and entertainment: Let’s face it, being bored and inactive leads to the devil’s playground. And most older individuals prefer to occupy some free time with reading, learning, playing online games, and more.

Get Your Bother On: What gets you out bed each morning? What would fill your heart with enthusiasm? It’s different for each of us… so try a few things on for size - the things you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you won’t enjoy them all but if you keep looking, I’m sure one of them will get your attention.
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<![CDATA[The Longest Study on Aging]]>Tue, 23 Feb 2021 08:00:00 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/the-longest-study-on-aging


​The research scientists look for answers to the question,
"What is normal aging?" It's the longest running study on human aging, the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.


It appears to be a simple query, but the answers are complex. The research goal is to identify the true effects of aging and to separate factors such as disease, socioeconomic disadvantage, or lack of educational opportunity from the underlying mechanisms common to human aging.

Predictors of Aging If you ever asked a physician, "How do I know if I'm aging well?" She'll likely look for answers (signs) via:
  • recent blood work,
  • prevention tests,
  • stiffening of blood vessels and arteries,
  • weakening bones, joints, and muscles,
  • frequent constipation, 
  • urinary incontinence
  • memory changes
  • and other signs and changes in hearing/vision/skin, etc.

The Findings in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study Several indicators about how well a person ages were discovered via the longest longevity research project in America. The findings are useful for those who want to know, "how well am I aging, and how can I know?"

Getting tired while walking can indicate one's future mobility - scientists found that how fatigued a person gets while walking is a better predictor of future problems with mobility compared to reports of overall low energy or tiredness. The ability of mobility performance predicts future function. An example, two people who walk quickly, the one who does not feel tired has better future mobility.

Cognitive changes in normal aging are different for genders - in the absence of cognitive impairment or dementia, cognition changes with aging but differs by sex. Men have better visual-spatial ability at baseline, women do better on most other measures of cognition. Over time, men decline more rapidly in overall mental status, perceptual-motor speed and visual-spatial ability. Women do not decline faster than men in any aspect tested. Women may have greater resilience to age-related cognitive decline compared to men.

Decreasing sense of smell is an early sign of changes in brain health. Since motor functions are strongly affected by brain health, the study found the smell ability was associated with all measures of mobility and hand function, even after accounting for other factors affected by brain health such as age and cognitive function.

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<![CDATA[What is normal aging?]]>Sun, 21 Feb 2021 21:33:27 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/what-is-normal-aging
​A question most people ask, at least the folks over the age of 55.  

You may be someone who prefers not to think about it and pretend it doesn't exist. The fact that you're slowing down, have less energy, have trouble multitasking, forgetful at times, or not sleeping as well, all point to it. 

According to the Pew Research study, they found varying assumptions, depending on the age group -- the younger generations say old age begins between 60 and 74.
When survey respondents ages 18 to 29 were asked, "What chronological number does old age begin," most said 60. Middle-aged respondents put the threshold at 70, and those 65 and above say a person does not become old until 74. I’ll be 70 soon and disagree with them all! What about you? 

Other potential markers such as forgetfulness, retirement, becoming sexually inactive, experiencing bladder control problems, getting gray hair, having grandchildren are the subjects of perceptions. Nearly two-thirds of adults ages 18 to 29 believe that when a person frequently forgets a familiar name that marks the person old. 

Other makers like failing health, an inability to live independently, an inability to drive, difficulty with stairs, across all age groups, indicate to a certain degree as old age. (Pew Research, Growing Old in America)

Now that you might be approaching 55, 65 or 75, what do you consider old age?
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<![CDATA[Wonder what’s possible in your future?]]>Thu, 18 Feb 2021 20:26:31 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/wonder-whats-possible-in-your-future
​Future thinking, as I write about it here, isn't meant to predict the future, but rather to find plausible outcomes down the road, and the unexpected consequences of a present-day issue. 

As I like to think about it, the emphasis is on possibilities, what could happen, not what might or will happen.  

Finding workable strategies is needed for adults, especially when they have fragmented family members living hundreds or thousands of miles away and there's no hope for assistance.  Furthermore, the growing group of people aging alone have dire needs to plan ahead because there's no question they will be without family to step up.

So, thinking about the future for this set of individuals is a way of discovering new outlook and ideas for today's decisions, and for the unpredicted problems. However, individuals still have to make plans and select options or choices based on what is to come. 

For example, when I considered a move from a 2 story single family residence in the suburbs, the factors were downsizing, car dependency, isolation, and staying safe since stairs were involved.

I could not predict whether the stairs would cause a slip or fall (scary though since the washer and dryer were on the second floor.) However, growing older in a two-story home was a big concern. 

This is what “future thinking” is all about… find the potential unexpected consequences of present day issues of growing older and then, follow a strategy to observe what's possible instead. And hopefully, create several "possibilities," because as life plays out, one can never know what's on the other side.  

Real Unexpected Consequences

Do you remember the one-child-per-couple policy in China back thirty-five years ago?  

China's unexpected consequence -- a shrinking population hampers economic growth. Now, officials encourage childbirth because they worry that the fertility rate has sunk well below 2.1, the level required to keep the population stable in the long term.  The government’s announcement in late 2015 that it was relaxing the policy, after 35 years. Yet the two-child-per-couple policy that replaced it may bring different kinds of problems.

If you follow the news about senior care, it's easy to relate to the unexpected consequences of having less children here in the U.S. Wasn't it just 10 years ago or so that the ratio of family caregivers to those in need, were 7 to one?  Today, it's 3 to 1. 
Fascinating EffectsWhat blows my mind when thinking about the future and the consequences we may face:

Take the 0 or 1 or 2 child-family decisions - the unexpected consequences opens doors to new technologies like: 
  • Join papa, Check-in apps that connect daughters/sons to parents, 
  • Online personal caregivers for hire, 
  • Robotics replace caregivers. 
New ideas infiltrate senior living: 
  • House sharing, 
  • Tiny house villages, Co-housing,
  • Village to Village Networks

Senior Planning Using future thinking strategies can help family caregivers prepare for what they could expect down the road if they were called on for help and then mitigate potential unexpected consequences of no planning:
  • 41% of caregivers have reduced their work hours or changed their schedule/shift to provide care
  • 13% have resigned their jobs to provide care
  • 9% have changed jobs or careers to provide care

​Thinking about the future helps us address the challenges of tomorrow by thinking about plausible scenarios today. To confront our concerns successfully, we must consider the implications of the action steps we take as conditions evolve.
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<![CDATA[Is it possible to plan for the future?]]>Mon, 15 Feb 2021 21:35:56 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/is-it-possible-to-plan-for-the-future
​Forecasting is normal practice in business but is it reasonable for individuals when thinking about aging?  If you step beyond the present, it is possible.   While caring for relatives, I got a clear idea of what's ahead for me. And that's what prompted my plan for the years ahead.   

Future Thinking
Living in the moment and being aware of my surroundings were the first steps and were they enlightening.   

It started after my folks died. While on a walk and thinking about them, the laborious duties, the on-call demands, their hardships of aging, and the resources they demanded was my wake up call.
 

What I learned in that moment, albeit a slow evolution, I knew my health was the first that needed to improve. I discovered through caregiving and working in senior care that the primary factors of aging well are:
  • Health and well-being
  • Affordable housing - aging in place
  • Social connections and support
  • Care directives
  • Finances 
The greatest lessons my parents taught were to take good care of myself, to be independent, and to discover better ways to age.  In my work, I've seen hundreds of family caregivers and seniors stressed, depressed, and filled with anxiety all because they did not think about the what ifs. 

Studies show that stress and anxiety have adverse effects on health and longevity, and suggest that many of these problems are due to disruption of immune system function, as well as increased inflammation and depression.

How does one make thinking about the future fun and inviting?  My favorite ways are vision boards and pages. They require creativity and fun!

Vision board
It's an artistic way to reflect on what you want to be, do, or have in your life. It's like creating a personal law of attraction and calling out to the future. Creating a vision board is a fun, authentic, and effective way to say “Yes please!” to the life you want and deserve. 

It's a form of mind-mapping but done with images attached onto a poster board. It puts attention on the images you dream up or want to manifest. 

Pages

A form of journaling each day. I prefer in the morning when my mind is clear. A practice of keeping a diary that explores thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life.

Writing pages cleared my head and to make important connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Above all, it helped me get clear on the things I want or not.

Process for Creating Your Future
But before that vision board, one must gather information.  The process for gaining insights and information come from a couple of steps: Asking the right questions, Mapping possibilities, and Scanning your world.

So, when gathering information through queries, it's not so much searching for a "Yes," or "No," actually, you don't ever want either of the two as you answer, instead it's more about asking the right questions that elicit thought provoking epiphanies, surprises and useful results.  Remember, the purpose is to gather information.

At this point you're looking for perspectives and viewpoints beyond your own. Friends and family can offer new points of view.  But if brave enough, seek out sources who you may disagree with, because you can benefit from the very act of thinking through why you disagree. Disagreement triggers new ideas.

Seeking possibilities lays the foundation for future outcomes. Remember that the future will be different than how you see it today. But looking at all the possibilities will certainly offer insights into present choices.

More to come on this future thinking... soon.  
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<![CDATA[Unexpected Consequences of an Aging World]]>Fri, 12 Feb 2021 18:17:50 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/unexpected-consequences-of-an-aging-world1552345
​We're more biologically fit than our ancestors due to better conditions for children from many decades ago. 

What's surprising, is today 900 million people on earth have reached their 60th birthday. And because of the lower fertility rates, by 2050, 2.1 billion people 60 and over will inhabit this planet. 

The unexpected consequence of longevity... more older folks than younger ones. 
With that number of older people, I wonder who will take care of us?  

The Care Needed
In the United States, the Census reports, close to 55 million people are 65 plus and by 2050, that number will rise to nearly 85 million. The booming segment is a byproduct of improved developments, medical advancements, science, and technology. Vaccines, antibiotics, and improved hygiene have kept infectious illnesses at bay. Safer conditions for children have evolved which contribute to healthier and longer life spans. 

Through longevity, the healthcare and family caregiver systems will experience a heavier burden. It's true that medical advances put a stop to some diseases but now, in the 21st century we face many more associated with chronic conditions which continue to multiply. 

Take the hefty trend of diabetes and hypertension, the two top diseases of the population. Since 1980, diabetes has increased from 104 million people living with it to 425 million today. 

Furthermore, by 2050, 80 percent of  the world's population will have one chronic illness, while 68 percent will have 2 plus. 

In 2018, the National Institute of Health declared approximately one in three of all adults worldwide suffer from multiple chronic conditions. To say we're facing an epidemic of chronic illnesses is an understatement. 

What Can Be Done?We can wait for medical science to remedy the epidemic. However, I believe it's up to each of us to step up and take responsibility. 

A few ways we can do that (you know the drill:)
  • Get regular check ups
  • Get annual preventative medical tests 
  • Exercise regularly
  • Talk with your doctor about ways to stay healthy
  • Learn your family medical history and discuss with your doctor
  • Eat nutritious foods and avoid sugar and refined carbs
  • Drink water and limit alcohol
  • Stop smoking
The list is your best prevention. However, there's a process to take deeper dives in staying healthy longer. It takes forethought, time, and commitment. 

It's why I created the Aging 101 Starter Kit. It's not meant to be a complete plan of action to live a better life. However, it's a starting point when addressing the top challenges of  older age. 

The family caregiving experience was my wake up call to future planning. I knew back then there would be no one to take care of me. And now it's my mission to spread awareness of the importance of self-care. 
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<![CDATA[Scarcity to Surplus - Thinking about Money]]>Fri, 12 Feb 2021 01:35:52 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/scarcity-to-surplus-improve-thoughts-about-money
​Having enough money is a dilemma for a lot of people, and more so for those on a limited income. It's disheartening to read stories about folks having to choose between buying medications or buying food. 

What's worse, the earning power has dwindled to nothing. At this stage, it's difficult to find work-arounds and look for ways to earn more. That ship has sailed and now, they have to adapt to the hand they're given.

That’s a lot easier said than done, though. Some of them couldn't work even if they wanted to, while others with limited income do work but for minimum wage. And they don’t have free time or energy to pick up a second job. Here’s where resourcefulness comes in.

The basic rule of personal finance, spend less than one earns, is useless at some point.  The rule won’t change how much money one has. So, the person has to adapt the rules to their situation.

Some Ideas to Accomplish ThatThere’s a lot of practical and basic advice about money -- how to save it, plan it, not spend it, and even how to make it work for you, and each is a necessary part of having enough to make it last during retirement. 
But what helped me more with my money than anything was changing the way I thought about it.

Back years ago, when I was in debt and struggling, I felt smothered by all of the bills and laboring to pay them off. I had to give up on everything except necessities. (I was lucky though, this happened to me while I still had years left to earn more.)
What I finally learned was to be grateful for all that I had and not worry so much about all that I didn't. That act made it easier to stop spending and to overcome the fear of the almighty dollar. 

Look for Opportunities to Give You a Leg Up

You can be as frugal as possible and cut all your expenses, but earning more money is better.  Eric Ravenscraft writes about personal finance, and he says, "Sometimes spending less than what you earn or have isn’t always helpful because sometimes spending more is actually the better financial decision. I bought a smartphone on credit when I was broke, which is a terrible decision. On the other hand, without it I wouldn’t have been able to start writing about Android, which is what kick started my career...in virtually all situations, there are cases where buying something can give you a leg up."

In a comment on my page about about paying off debt - I suggested paying cash for everything, "When you shop, pay with cash or debit cards. Cash gives more spending power."  

A reader debated my tip, “I have to budget, but I totally disagree with just one of the statements. I NEVER use cash, and don't own an ATM card. I use credit cards (chosen carefully.) Since I love to travel, I have yet to pay for a hotel or an airline flight. I always keep at least one cash back card. My current card gives me 6% back on groceries & 3% on gas.”

I replied, "Give me the name of your credit card because never paying for a hotel or airline flight sounds good to me."  The reader's leg up was to make money even when charging purchases. 

Seize Opportunities  Look for opportunity in everything. If you enjoy making jewelry or other items - create an Etsy account or sell your wares at local fairs. 

And if you're lucky to receive a sum of money via an inheritance by chance, don't spend it all. Use it to help you reach financial goals, like paying off debt or investing. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, but acknowledging the opportunity that exists is resourceful.

Some opportunities aren’t fun.  When a friend was working a minimum wage job, he somehow saved ten thousand dollars in a few years. Recently, I asked him how he managed to do it. "I took advantage of opportunities." For him, “opportunity” was overtime. Most of us would turn up our nose at that, but he didn't care. He saw it as a way to save enough to go to school. 

Make your own decisions, but searching for options to help you reach your goal will go a long way toward being resourceful. 

Focus on What You Can Do, Not What You Can’tIt might be downsizing, selling furniture, or jewelry, I’m not suggesting you do any of those things just pointing out there are outside-the-box ways to get money.

It’s easier to follow the status quo, tell yourself what should be, and completely give up on advice that doesn’t apply to you. Just tailor the advice to your own situation, give up what you should in favor of the overall financial health, and take advantage of opportunities that might not seem like opportunities. 

But that’s what being resourceful is all about, and without resourcefulness, personal finance rules are indeed useless.
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<![CDATA[The Art of Predicting the Past]]>Thu, 11 Feb 2021 04:22:02 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/the-art-of-predicting-the-past
History of Futurism David B. Barrett (1996, p. 1021) locates the origins of ̳futurism‘ at around 47,000 BC. For him, futurism began with the emergence of divination by mediums, oracles or augurs. These were consulted in order to learn about future events.

More recent futurism dates back to the origins of astrology, around 3300 BCE in Mesopotamia (ibid.).  Astrology attempts to predict destinies of individuals, groups, or nations through interpreting the influence of planets and stars on earthly affairs (ibid.)

In academic circles futures thinking is associated with futures studies and describes it as an interdisciplinary “collection of methods, theories, and findings” (Miller, 2003, p.7) that helps people to ‘think constructively about the future’ (Bell, 1996 cited in Codd et al 2002, p.5.)  

Over the past seven years, I've researched and applied methodologies of future thinking for my own personal strategy to look and plan for the coming years. The deep practical knowledge and insight has inspired my tired mental reasoning. 
Since the stay at home order, I've earned several certificates from the Institute For The Future through online courses. This stuff just blows me away.

I invite you to practice a simple exercise that I learned in one of the courses. Enjoy! 
Unsticking Your MindThis exercise will help you to "unstick" the mind, so you can think more creatively and spot opportunities faster, and know your brain better!
The goal is to envision something that could happen in life. For example, a person would imagine what it would be like to get a new job, or a new home, or to buy a new car. 

Where are you right now? Are you at home watching TV? Are you at work watching this post?  Take a second and look around where you are right now. I'm going to ask you to change this reality, in your imagination. Here's what I want you to do.

I want you to imagine that the first thing you did when you woke up this morning was pack a bag and to go somewhere -- out of town.

Where would you have gone if you had made that decision this morning?
Where would you have wanted to go?
Where could you have gone?
Where do you have the resources to go?

Take these questions seriously and allow yourself to roll back time and imagine you've given yourself permission this morning to pack a bag and go somewhere.

Where did this alternate version of you go?

You can close your eyes and picture, where are you now in this alternate version of reality? You went to that place with your bag packed. Where are you?  

When you can answer that question and picture it in your mind as if it had actually happened, then you have successfully completed this technique.


Predicting the Past
What you just did is to predict the past. You think about a real choice that you made and then imagine that you had made a different one. You think about what the consequences of what that different choice might be.

You can do this for little things like what if I had gotten dressed in something different this morning. Or how would I feel right now if I had taken a walk in nature this morning?

You can do it for big things like what if I hadn't moved away from my hometown, what if I were still living where I grew up or what if I had taken or I had turned down that work opportunity that seemed really important at the time?

This technique is focused on the past but it's incredibly useful for the future because it helps us see that the present didn't have to be exactly the way it is. That we made choices in the past that affected how the present turned out. If the present could be different because of choices we made, then the future can still be different because of choices that we will make.

It's not just futurists who use this technique, it's actually very popular in the treatment of depression. It turns out to be a really helpful intervention because one of the main symptoms of depression is believing that nothing you do matters. That you can't change your current circumstances, but when you practice thinking about how you could've made choices that would have changed your present, it helps you imagine how you could make choices in the present, that would change your future.
So this is predicting the past technique. Now you know how to use it. Try doing this several times a week and see how it affects decisions in the present moment. 

Whatever problem, challenge, or issue you encounter, always consider several sides of things before committing to a decision on it.
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<![CDATA[Is planning for the future possible?]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2021 08:00:00 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/is-planning-for-the-future-possible Picture












​Forecasting is normal practice in business but is it reasonable for individuals when thinking about aging?  

If you step beyond the present, it's possible.

After caring for relatives, I got a clear idea of what's ahead. And that's what prompted me.   

Future ThinkingLiving in the moment and being aware of my surroundings were the first steps and boy, where they enlightening.   

It started after my folks died. While on a walk and thinking about helping them, the laborious duties, the on-call demands, their hardships of aging, and the resources their care demanded. That moment framed a good illustration of what's ahead. 
What I learnedFrom that moment, albeit a slow evolution, I knew my health was the first to improve.

I discovered through caregiving and working in senior care that the primary factors of aging well are:
  • Health and well-being
  • Affordable housing - aging in place
  • Social connections and support
  • Care directives
  • Finances 
The greatest lessons my parents taught were to take good care of myself, to be independent, and to discover better ways to age.

In my work, I've seen hundreds of family caregivers and seniors stressed, depressed, and filled with anxiety all because they did not think about the what ifs. 

Studies show that stress and anxiety have adverse effects on health and longevity, and suggest that many of these problems are due to disruption of immune system function, as well as increased inflammation and depression.

How does one make thinking about the future fun and inviting?

My favorite ways are vision boards and pages. They require creativity and fun!

Vision board
It's an artistic way to reflect on what you want to be, do, or have in your life. It's like creating a personal law of attraction and calling out to the future. Creating a vision board is a fun, authentic, and effective way to say “Yes please!” to the life you want and deserve. 

It's a form of mind-mapping but done with images attached onto a poster board. It puts attention on the images you dream up or want to manifest. 

Pages--A form of journaling each day. I prefer in the morning when my mind is clear. A practice of keeping a diary that explores thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life.

Writing pages cleared my head and to make important connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Above all, it helped me get clear on the things I want or not.

Process for Creating Your FutureBut before that vision board, one must gather information.

The process for gaining insights and information come from a couple of steps: Asking the right questions, Mapping possibilities, and Scanning your world.

So, when gathering information through queries, it's not so much searching for a "Yes," or "No," actually, you don't ever want either of the two as you answer, instead it's more about asking the right questions that elicit thought provoking epiphanies, surprises and useful results.

Remember, the purpose is to gather information.

At this point you're looking for perspectives and viewpoints beyond your own. Friends and family can offer new points of view.  But if brave enough, seek out sources who you may disagree with, because you can benefit from the very act of thinking through why you disagree. Disagreement triggers new ideas.
Seeking possibilities lays the foundation for future outcomes. Remember that the future will be different than how you see it today. But looking at all the possibilities will certainly offer insights into present choices.

More to come on this future thinking... soon.  

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