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Healthy aging: Tell us your story

Looking ahead to old age, I think I’d like to take my cue from some relatives of my husband’s who handled life’s final passage with forethought and grace.

When the husband retired, the couple sold the Connecticut house where they had raised their children and moved to a condo in an upstate New York town near their much-loved summer lake “camp.” They enjoyed retirement there for a dozen years, until the onset of health problems prompted them to return to Connecticut to be near a daughter. They bought into a nonprofit life care community that allowed them to move, as their needs dictated, from a regular apartment to assisted living to a nursing unit.

As it turned out, they needed all of the above. The husband fell ill first, and spent time in the nursing unit before his death. Then the wife began to develop dementia. She moved first to assisted living, then to a special Alzheimer’s unit within the nursing home. That’s where she died not long ago.

“The way they did it was so much easier on me than so many of my friends,” the daughter told me. “It made it possible for me to be there for them.”

We’d like to hear from you on this subject for an article we’re preparing on “healthy aging.” If you’re middle-aged, have you started thinking about how you’ll handle your later years? If you’re already there, what’s working well for you, and what would you have done differently in retrospect?

If you’d like to share your story (or that of an older family member), here’s where to tell it.

—Nancy Metcalf

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