Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Excerpt – The Four Ages

One of the first areas to look at is your parent’s “age,” or should I say “ages?”

While we are all familiar with • Chronological age (How many “birthday anniversaries” have they celebrated? How many candles would there be on the birthday cake?), in reality, people may also have three other “ages” to consider:

* Physical
* Cognitive
* Psychological

A person’s physical age is based on mobility without pain. You can have someone who is in their 80’s, 90’s, even 100’s, yet they are still active and able to manage their movements. You can have someone in their 50’s or 60’s who is dealing with discomfort from illness or injury and has trouble getting around. What is your family member’s physical age?

Cognitive age is based on mental abilities. We all know that precocious 14 year old who could pass for 25. We all know elders who can remember the littlest detail. What would your family member’s cognitive age be?

Finally, what is their psychological age? How old do they “feel?” What is the age of their self-image? Do they feel “in control” of their lives? (Check out if you want to explore a similar concept by Dr. David Demko in more detail.)

Most of us are not doctors, psychologists, or other professionals who can run detailed tests and interviews to determine these “ages” officially. That is not the intent of sharing this information. Rather, the intent is to get you to think of your family members as a unique individual, who brings a variety of life experiences and expectations with them. While it may be hard for us to see our loved ones as anything other than in the role(s) we have had to this point, (parent, child, adult, etc.), it is critical that we strive to be as objective, and LOVING, as possible. To help everyone work together successfully, it is important to set aside those past preconceptions and look thru fresh eyes at who your family member truly is.

Think about what your family member has lived thru. Social changes, work experiences, family shifts – all of these events have shaped who your family member is, what values they have, and how they will interpret any particular event. For many people who were raised during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, financial security is a strong priority. They do not want to be a burden to their family. They were raised during “hard times” and tend to be VERY independent. They have a strong work ethic and believe in the value of contributing to others. They often sacrificed their needs for the needs of their families. They are loyal, trusting, and tend to be private about their needs.

So what does all this mean to you? It means that as you start to evaluate the situation, you’ll want to have as complete a picture as possible. Not only do you have to consider the various “ages” of your family member, but you want to start thinking about what other factors could be contributing to “what’s going on?”