The South Carolina Aging in Place Coalition: Planning
Guest: Paul Franklin – Chairman, South Carolina Aging in Place Coalition
Host: Sally Smith – Author/Resource literature on age-related disease and healthy aging
Sally Smith: Welcome to Age to Age. I’m Sally Smith. Let’s talk. We’re lucky to have Paul Franklin with us today. He’s the chairman of the board of the South Carolina Aging in Place Coalition, which is a fantastic organization. Paul, you have said that the goal, and the raison d'etre, sort of, of the whole coalition is that if your goal is to stay at home, you can make that happen. The real key, if I’m hearing you correctly, is planning.
You, as a coalitionist, are going into the community with the word that you can make this happen. But, you’ve got to plan for it, and put your ducks in a row. How does this start? I mean, you said earlier, you identify a need, but couldn’t you do this before there was any sort of need, you know, like me, or you? All our cards are still on the deck right now, but if we want to move forward, are there certain things that you can do, say, financially, legally, things like that, to start the ball rolling?
Paul Franklin: Absolutely. And, you know, where it really starts is thinking about the future and what your goals are, your objectives, what do you want to happen? Where do you want to live? What kind of people do you want to associate with? It gets back to communities and neighborhoods, and families. What are the support mechanisms that are in place? We usually bring up topics that, a lot of times, husbands and wives haven’t really talked about that much. It’s kind of interesting.
We, many times, ask the husband and wife, what do you think of your present home? Is it good for aging in place? And the husband might say, oh, I love it. I’ve got all my shop equipment out back. I’ve got my rod and reel, my boat. I’ve got this wonderful shop I can go back and do my thing in. In the meantime, the wife is rolling her eyes saying, this house is way too big. I don’t want to have to keep up with this house. I would like to move someplace else. And the husband is shocked. He loves the place, and she’s thinking it’s more than she wants to keep up with.
It just starts, really, with trying to get people to think about what their circumstances are right now, and what they want to happen in the future. It’s funny. People, a lot of times, spend more time planning their vacation than they do planning what’s going to happen in the next few years, as their circumstances change.
Sally Smith: Well, I think one thing that’s fascinating, and one thing is definitely true, sometimes in looking at solutions for a problem, a small problem, you realize that it’s really the solution. Is that not true of a life? I mean, that’s true for a young person. They’re so busy figuring out, you know, the next thing. Have they stopped and really said, when I die, what do I want to be able to say about myself? What do I want people say to she did, or he did? A lot of it is that jumping ahead and looking back. What do I want to have happen? I love the way you said that. So, the first step is, maybe, husband and wife, maybe family?
Paul Franklin: Oh, absolutely. Getting together and talking about this. That’s the reason we thought a National Aging in Place Week was very good. It starts a conversation rolling. It’s an opportunity to bring up the topic in a safe environment, you know, where you’ve got a national initiative. It gives you a chance to talk about subjects that, maybe, the parents, and the adult children, were not that comfortable talking about. So, it’s a natural ability to sit down and discuss it. American families are quite interesting. They talk about all kinds of things. And, many times, the things that are most important, they shy away from. The shy away from, you know, things like finances, many times. They don’t talk about money. They don’t talk about what’s going to happen if they get ill. Yet, they may have expectations of their adult children that they [their adult children] have no idea about, and the adult children are not prepared for, maybe, what the parents have in mind. So, it’s really important to address these kinds of issues because, I think, the parents could be shocked, and the adult children.
Sally Smith: Well, I can see how that would be especially difficult because you’re dealing with patterns that were set so long ago. I’m from an extremely close family, but they never talked about what they really wanted to have happen. I think they just kind of assumed we’d know and make the best choice we could at the time. It’s interesting. It is sort of a taboo subject, and more so for some families that others. So, you think about what you want to have happen, and then you start looking at these five bullet points, which you and I are going to take one at a time and do a whole talk on them. But, the five bullet points are?
Paul Franklin: Basically, healthy living, livable homes, legal and financial issues and concerns, supportive relationships, transportation.
Sally Smith: Wow. That covers the waterfront. Well, I love it that we’re going to go in depth on those subjects. I also love it that it’s a good little checklist. When you think about what you want to have happen, it’s a good checklist. Some things you may care about more than others. Maybe you live, luckily, in Charleston, and you live very close to a lot of things. Maybe transportation isn’t going to as much of an issue in a European-style, close-knit, downtown situation, if that happens to be the part of Charleston where you are. Some things will vary and have more importance to you. Each person’s different. As you pointed out, maybe for this man, fishing in his boat is a primo part of his concept of happiness.
I have been a planner, and a life planner. I’m very committed to that. What do they say, The unexamined life is not worth living? I like to think about where I want to go. And, honestly, that’s helped me to get there, even identifying it worth words, before I even got to the action steps.
Paul Franklin: Absolutely.
Sally Smith: The vision, the picture of it.
Paul Franklin: That’s right. You’ve got to have the picture; you’ve got to have the vision. It’s interesting. A lot of people don’t give themselves the luxury, sometimes, of thinking about that. You need to have time to think about that and make sure that it’s high up on your priority list. Obviously, if you don’t visualize it, you don’t express it, and the likelihood of it happening is slim to none.
Sally Smith: And, also, if you think about it way ahead, you can start being really nice to those children that you want to take care of you. Maybe you can patch some of those rough edges and make it happen just the way want.
Paul Franklin: That’s right.
Sally Smith: Paul, thank you so much. I love talking to you on this subject, the South Carolina Aging in Place Coalition, with Paul Franklin. Thank you for coming.
Paul Franklin: Thank you.
Sally Smith: And thanks to all our listeners for joining us. We welcome your suggestions and comments on our website. This is Sally Smith, Age to Age, saying goodbye and wishing you courage and joy on your journey. We are all connected.
If you enjoy listening to Sally Smith, you can buy her book, The Circle. It’s the story of how she personally responded to her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a wonderful gift of hope for anyone with a parent with dementia. Just click on Sally Smith’s name under the Health Professionals tab on the Podcast home page. All profits support research at the Center on Aging. Thanks.