Saturday, August 22, 2009

Differences, and similarities, between aging and gardening;

It is late-summer, almost the end of August. There is much in my garden that is vibrant—those rose bushes that have decided to put on a dramatic show this year, the bee balm in full flower and drawing hummers from every corner. The Kentucky Runners dangling their tender bean pods. But as I walk around my garden I see everything that has already bloomed. While there is so much good weather left to experience—here in Portland we can expect the pleasant weather to last well into October-- so much has passed, not to come again this year.

As with almost everything, I see an allegory to our clientele at In Your Home. So many people we work for have much good time left despite the fact that so much of bloom of their life has faded. The difference is that when I look at the spent blooms of my garden, I naturally think about next year. What do I want to move or propagate to extend the blooming season? What do I want to give something better conditions so it can really flower. Where are there holes to fill in the border or overcrowded beds to thin. There always another chance that another spring and summer provides.

But we humans aren’t a garden. We talk about the seasons of our life, but as I see it we are not a plant, but ourselves a garden that has one long “growing season.” Just like the garden in spring is different than the garden in late summer, if we live well, we can flower repeatedly with different blooms fitting each of our stages in life. Yet in the end, if we are honest, we know we have but one season that slips away toward that cold winter soil.

So, how do we provide the conditions that will make these lifelong season one that is as nurturing and fertile as possible? As always, I find, the garden has some inspirations:
  • Don’t be afraid to transplant. Uprooting and moving can be the right decision for many plants. We humans tend to be unique, enjoying changes in our environment at different times. We can fix up a house and sell it and move on to a new experience—aging in place need not mean being trapped in the same ol’ structure, it is aging independently and in community. As with a garden, certain times are better than others to transplant—leaving it too late or under the wrong conditions can mean your success is compromised.

  • Tend and till. A home, like a garden, only prospers if tended. A light hand at tending, perhaps, but tending none-the-less. If we don’t take care of our home, it will be eaten by mold, nibbled at by destructive creatures, and generally lose its vibrancy due to lack of care.

  • Acknowledge what does not work. Trying to get in and out of a tub shower has about as much likelihood of success as growing lavender in a bog. It may work for a few seasons if we work hard and catch good luck from the weather, but eventually the rot occurs. Better to plant (or build) what will work for the long term with minimum care.
If I think now about how I want my garden to be next year, I have a chance to make those changes and enjoy something better next year. Even if it does not work, the vibrancy of spring will mask my mistakes. But there is no spring vibrancy for us poor aging humans—so if I think now about how I want my own life to be, I can make the changes and start to appreciate them tomorrow. There is little point in waiting.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Survey targeting businesses serving the AIP market

Mark Hager at is fielding a survey targeting business people who are focused on the AIP movement. Sponsored by SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialists). A number of us in the community provided input.

It you are such a business, please take a moment to complete the survey.

Body Dryer

This product made its way through my e-mail scanners--I rarely pay attention to those messages, but this appears to be another product coming over from the UK/Europe where product design for bathing accessibility seems to be ahead of what we have over here. It is a full body dryer, making it easier for someone to dry off after a shower without bending or assistance. The claim is that cost to operate is about the same as laundering towels--suppose that depends on how often you wash your towels tho.

Can't vouch for how well it works yet, but seems an ideal product for lots of folks.