ABOUT ME

Wife, teacher, author, retired counselor and far-away-living adult child since graduate school–helping others comes naturally.

I was a “Dear Abby” to my high school friends; later, as a teacher, an untrained counselor to my students. Graduate work and a degree in counseling from Teachers College, Columbia U, led to a career I’ve loved: counseling high school students and their families. This included–as divorce rates rose in the ’80’s–writing Helping Children of Divorce: a Handbook for Parents and Teachers, published by Schocken Books.

Help! Aging Parents is an extension of my ongoing desire to use my professional training and experience to help others.

I’m one of two children, born in the West. I came East for Teachers College’s counseling program and stayed–and worked– in NY.  Although far from family I always knew I would “be there” if my parents needed me. Mother died two weeks short of her 89th birthday; Dad died at 94; and most recently, in June 2015, my m-i-l, R, died at 101.

Since I’m married to an only child, I was R’s only daughter (-in-law ).  We experienced her surgery and rehab after a broken femur four years ago (doctors say she made a “remarkable recovery”) and did what we could to ensure her independence in her home as her eyesight failed. She was a remarkable woman and a Sr. Advisor to this blog.

My brother and I experienced falls, stroke, hospitalizations, bypass surgery, other surgeries, and recuperations with our parents. The weight of responsibility and concern was ever-present as our parents grew old and developed health issues. Yet I’m certain some well-thought-out, educated actions we took or didn’t take contributed to their aging well.

My counseling training sensitized me to my brother’s strengths and weaknesses as well as to my own. We each could make different contributions.

I was responsible for managing health and care-giving. My brother, living in the same city as our parents, was fine with that. He was there when the inevitable aging situations arose that require a family member to be present and phoned often when “ify” situations arose.

As Mother and Dad faced serious health issues I, like many far-away-living children, traveled back and forth, putting a temporary hold on work and family life–too often in a short space of time.

Meanwhile aging grandparents’ health issues were affecting some of my high school counselees’ families. I kept notes, read and attended social workers’ in-service “family systems” presentations.  I watched contemporaries struggle with older-parent issues ending in poor results. Grateful for my education, I felt confident that my brother and I were doing what was in the best interest of our parents (which, honestly, wasn’t always what we thought was best). And they did age well.

Help! Aging Parents lets me, with help from my senior advisors, share reputable information, creative ideas, empowering strategies and insights. The goal: to better help the elders we love age as well as possible–until the end.

Susan