Living well is key to dying well

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I suspect many people can smile knowingly at the classic quip about dying by comedian Woody Allen: 的知 not afraid of death; I just don稚 want to be there when it happens. His head-in-the-sand denial may have been just for the comic effect. I don稚 know. But I致e heard similar fears expressed too seriously.

So today痴 column is an opportunity for readers to consider the inevitability of what we call 電ying/death but with what I hope is a healthy twist. I値l say it as clearly as I can: living well is key to dying well. This is not to say the prospect of dying is an event most of us look forward to.

For some, whose physical condition holds no hope of healing, death can稚 come too soon. But for most of us, dying is obviously something we would rather put off as long as possible. So, until that time looms before us, a focus on living well every day seems (to me anyway) a very healthy alternative attitude!

For those readers who haven稚 been reading Dear Geezer for its 10-plus history, indulge me in a little background. I have been involved in various forms of geriatric social service since 1996.

In 2005, I began Elder Advocates as a consulting service so I could help older adults and their adult children navigate what I call the 杜aze of elder care. A significant part of that maze involves the dynamics of living well even as we prepare in various ways to die well.

Over the years, through my writing, teaching and consulting, I have encouraged families and individuals to 1) be bold in facing the realities of their ages; and 2) consider planning ahead for those times when difficult conversations and decisions need to be made.

I began The Geezer Forum in January 2012. In that very first session, I clearly remember the first person to speak wanted us to know her son had terminal cancer. So we started these 7 1/2 years of The Geezer Forum with a very down-to-earth reality check.

Then in September 2012, a small group of folks passionate about living well even as we anticipated how to die well, hosted a Saturday morning event focused of healthy attitudes toward dying. We were wide-eyed surprised that over 60 persons showed up to explore those attitudes together.

Next Tuesday, May 14, is another opportunity for people to gather together in this common search for living well, dying well. It will happen at the Geezer Forum in Columbia Bank痴 Community Room, 2:30-4 p.m..

Our resource leaders will be Lissa DeFreitas, volunteer and bereavement coordinator for Bonne Community Hospice, and Heidi Christiana Hampe, an end-of-life doula. (If you want to know what an end-of-life doula does, I urge you to join us.)

Together, we will explore various aspects of living well on a daily basis and anticipating how to live well tomorrow, so that when it痴 time to consider dying well, we are better prepared than Woody Allen! Please feel welcome to join us on May 14.

Paul Graves, M.Div., is lead geezer-in-training for Elder Advocates, a consulting ministry on issues of aging. Contact Paul at 208-610-4971 or

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