Prepare for the unexpected…

I wish I had a jovial example of a transformative event, but my example is a sad one, but one that has enlighted me and my family.  The sudden death of my mother, at age 74, brought my immediate family into turmoil.  My father, a traditional man, did not cook nor clean, nor shop, so he was fraught with the task of providing for himself.  His health was frail, so it was incumbant upon my sisters and me to find appropriate care.

All this leads to learning about the labyrinth of elder care services: assisted living facilities, home care, nursing care, government entitlements etc.  It is a maze of paperwork.  While it was quite a saga for over five years, my sisters and I gained insight on how to deal with this.  (We are fortunate to all live within 40 minutes of each other).  Having siblings will share in the tasks equally is always benefical.

Step 1:  Have a meeting with the parent about the next steps. Do they want to live alone?  Can they live alone?  Can they still drive?  What ailments do they have.  Start the hunt for alternative housing or in-house aids.

Step 2:   Divide the tasks:

  1. Financial – gain access to accounts; be a co-signatory for various accounts
  2. Health care – learn about the doctors who specialize in the care of the elderly
  3. Legal Documents – get the legal documents in order (Living Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, etc.
  4. Housing – assess whether to sell the house.  Find alternative housing if need be.

Step 3:  Hire a geriatric care manager: (optional)  (I wish we did this.  These are experts in elder care issues.

Before I write a thesis on this, suffice it to say, the event was transformative, but the outcome was a learning experience.  We sadly lost our Dad after five years in an Assisted Living facility, but by-and-large, he was well cared for and happy to see us.

Bottom line:  Prepare.  Transformative events are usually unexpected.

Reactions to the Blizzard of 2013

blizzard2013streetThere was an interesting story in the Boston Sunday Globe recently about a family who lost power during the Blizzard last month. The electricity didn’t work for three days and the entire family was at a loss of what to do.  No TV, no internet, no gameboy.  Cellphones worked until the battery was drained.

The author, a deputy business editor from the Globe, Mark Pothier recounted his story about being powerless in this “hyperconnected” world.  While he and his family suffered no heat and light, it was the connectivity to the outside world that he felt at a loss.  There’s no doubt that, comparatively, natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti, hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy whose hardships lost more than “dormant flatscreens and missed Facebook updates” (his quote not mine).  A blizzard of 30 inches of snow with the loss of power for two or three days is minor event.

But all this makes me think of the generational differences as we discussed and read in Adult Learning Theory.  “One of the key tenets of sound online course design (and implementation) is that courses should be learner-centered.”  (Kaminski & Currie “Education for a Digital World, p 196).  This can be a challenge since learners come from a variety of age groups, sociological backgrounds and lifestyles.  In any given class, a participant or learner can be one from Gen X or Gen Y or a Baby Boomer.  In a perfect world, design of online courses would benefit both the individual and the collective group.  Kaminski goes on to say that the generational concept was introduced by Karl Mannheim (1936) who said groups of individuals born within the same age period share a commonality – a similar world view.

As a Baby Boomer, we remember the Blizzard of 1978.  Although I was in college at the time and safely sequestered on campus, my husband remembers getting stuck on Route 128.  No cellphones.  People were stuck on the highway.  We remember blizzards.  They were not detrimental.  “The storms never damaged our spirits.  We weren’t dependent on instant access to 24-hour entertainment,” Pothier writes.

So, sorry Gen X and Gen Y if we remember previous blizzards.  We remember the disasters, but we didn’t have cellphones to help us in an emergency.  We were at the mercy of time.