No Spouse, No Kids, No Caregiver: How to Prepare to Age Alone
Rabbi Yehuda Lave from Jerusalem
Now is The Time
There is an old saying: "The past is no more, the future is not yet, and the present is as fleeting as the blink of an eye."
The present is the only reality and it is exceedingly short. Being aware of this can make it easier for you to live a virtuous life. You need do the right thing for only a short time -- that is, the present moments, which fly by exceedingly fast.
Love Yehuda Lave
No Spouse, No Kids, No Caregiver: How to Prepare to Age Alone
A growing population of 'elder orphans' lack a built-in support system. What to do if you become one.
Growing older alone doesn't mean you're doomed – just as aging with a partner or kids doesn't mean all's clear.
When Carol Marak was in her 30s, she asked herself whose life she wanted: her brother's – the life of a successful and well-traveled businessman – or his wife's – the life of a woman whose career better accommodated raising three children.
The answer was a no-brainer: "My brother was in a position I wanted," says Marak, now a 64-year-old editor at SeniorCare.com who lives in Waco, Texas. Although she had been married and divorced earlier in life, at that point she had no kids and "made a very conscious decision" to keep it that way, she says.
Plenty of Marak's peers did the same thing. According to a 2012 study in The Gerontologist, about one-third of 45- to 63-year-olds are single, most of whom never married or are divorced. That's a whopping 50 percent increase since 1980, the study found. What's more, about 15 percent of 40- to 44-year-old women had no children in 2012 – up from about 10 percent in 1980, U.S. Census data shows. "My career was No. 1 in my life," says Marak, who worked in the technology industry for years.
But today, Marak and her single, childless contemporaries are facing a repercussion of their decision that never crossed their minds as 30-somethings: "How in the world will we take care of ourselves?" she asks.
Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York, is asking the same thing. In research presented this year at The American Geriatric Society's annual meeting, Carney and her colleagues found that nearly one-quarter of Americans over age 65 are or may become physically or socially isolated and lack someone like a family member to care for them. Carney calls them "elder orphans."
"The risk of potentially finding yourself without a support system – because the majority of care provided as we get older is provided by family – may be increasing," she says.
The consequences are profound. According to Carney's work, older adults who consider themselves lonely are more likely to have trouble completing daily tasks, experience cognitive decline, develop coronary heart disease and even die. Those who are socially isolated are also at risk for medical complications, mental illness, mobility issues and health care access problems.
"You could be at a hospital setting at a time of crisis and could delay your treatment or care, and your wishes may not be respected [if you can't communicate them]," says Carney, also an associate professor at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.
Take "Mr. HB," a 76-year-old New York man described in Carney's research as "a prototypical elder orphan." After attempting suicide, he arrived at a hospital with cuts on his wrist, bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition and depression. He lived alone and hadn't been in contact with any relatives in over a year. His treatment was complicated, the researchers report, in part because he was too delirious to make clear decisions or understand his options. He wound up at a nursing facility with plans to eventually be placed in long-term care.
But growing older without kids or a partner doesn't mean you're doomed – just as aging with kids and a partner doesn't mean all's clear. "We're all at risk for becoming isolated and becoming elder orphans," Carney says. You could outlive your spouse or even your children, find yourself living far from your family or wind up in the caretaker role yourself if a family member gets sick. Keep in mind that 69 percent of Americans will need long-term care, even though only 37 percent think they will, according to SeniorCare.com.
Plus, there's no way around the natural physical and mental declines that come with age. "Everybody has to prepare to live as independently as possible," Carney says. Here's how:
1. Speak up.
Marak wishes she had talked more with her friends and colleagues about her decision not to become a mom early on. That may have given her a jump-start on anticipating various problems and developing solutions to growing older while childless. She advises younger generations to discuss their options openly with friends – married and single, men and women – before making a firm decision.
"We discuss our psychological issues with professionals. We discuss our money strategies with financial experts," Marak says. "Why not talk openly about family concerns and what it means to have or not have children? So many of us go into it with blinders on."
2. Act early.
How early you start planning for your future health depends partly on your current condition – and your genes, says Bert Rahl, director of mental health services at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging. "If your ancestry is that people die early, you have to plan sooner and faster," he says.
But whether you come from a family of supercentenarians or people who have shorter life spans, it's never too soon to save for long-term care, whether it's by investing in a home, putting aside a stash for medical emergencies or "whatever you can do to have a nest egg," Marak says. "Life is serious, especially when you get old. Don't get to [a point] when you're 60 and now you're having to scramble to catch up."
Still not motivated? "Everybody wants some control in [their] life," Rahl says. "If you don't plan, what you're choosing to do is cede that control to somebody else – and the likelihood that they're going to have your best interests at heart is a losing proposition."
3. Make new friends and keep the old.
Your social connections can help with practical health care needs, like driving you to the doctor when you're unable. But they also do something powerful: keep you alive, research suggests. In a 2012 study of over 2,100 adults age 50 and older, researchers found that the loneliest older adults were nearly twice as likely to die within six years than the least lonely – regardless of their health behaviors or social status.
Connections can also help ward off depression, which affects nearly 20 percent of the 65-and-older population, according the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "One of the things that keeps people from being depressed is to be connected," Rahl says. "The more social activities you have, the more friends, the more things you can do to keep your body and mind active – that's the best protection you have against mental illness."
4. Appoint a proxy.
Who is your most trusted friend or relative? "Identify somebody to help you if you're in a time of crisis, and revisit that periodically over your life," Carney suggests. Make sure that person knows your Social Security number, where you keep your insurance card, which medications you take – "the whole list of things somebody needs to know if they're going to help you," advises Dr. Robert Kane, director of the University of Minnesota's Center on Aging.
Before you start losing any cognitive capacities, consider designating that person as your durable power of attorney for health care, or the person who makes health care decisions for you when you're no longer able.
If no one comes to mind, hire an attorney who specializes in elder care law by asking around for recommendations or searching online for highly rated professionals. Unlike your friends, they have a license to defend and are well-versed in elder care issues. Most of the time, Rahl's found, "they're trustworthy and will do a good job for you."
5. Consider moving.
Marak is on a mission: "to create my life where I'm not transportation-dependent," she says. She's looking to move to a more walkable city, perhaps a college town where she's surrounded by young people and can stay engaged with activities like mentoring. She also hopes her future community is filled with other like-minded older adults who can look out for one another. "I want to … set up my life where I'm not living alone and isolated," she says.
Adjusting your living situation so that you can stay connected to others and get to, say, the grocery store or doctor's office is the right idea, says Carney, who cares for a group of nuns who live communally and has seen other adults create communities that act like "surrogate families," she says. "Think: Where do you want to live? What's most easy? How do you access things? How do you have a support system?"
6. Live well.
Marak is lucky: She's always loved eating healthy foods and walking – two ways to stay as healthy as possible at all ages. "Some of the foods that we eat are really, really bad for the body," she says. "That's one of the major causes of chronic conditions – and not exercising."
Keeping your brain sharp is also critical if you want to be able to make informed decisions about your health care, Rahl says. He suggests doing activities that challenge you – math problems if numbers trip you up, or crossword puzzles if words aren't your forte. "The old adage, 'If you don't use it, you lose it,' is 100 percent correct," he says.
"Wherever There Is Jewish Pain…"- Buttons of the Jewish Defense League
The History Behind the Buttons of the Jewish Defense League
For the Jews of Eastern Europe, America was the Golden Land. Offering unparalleled personal and professional opportunity, America was the antithesis to the relentless persecution and discrimination in the Europe they fled.
Jews embraced America and were welcomed by it. They took full advantage of the sense of fair-play and merit-based opportunity and thrived both in financial and social arenas.
However, increased acceptance also meant abundant opportunity for assimilation and intermarriage. Many Jews became American and at the same time lost their unique Jewish identity and sense of kinship with other Jews. This phenomenon became so prevalent that in 1964, Look Magazine featured an article entitled "The Vanishing American Jew". (1) --See rest of article at website above
A Movie from 1981 speaks to us today: https://www.facebook.com/in5dEsotericMetaphysicalSpiritualDatabase/videos/1353057004723134/
"Beyond Words" is a newly-published seven volume collection of Rabbi Meir Kahane's writings from 1960 – 1990 that originally appeared in The Jewish Press, other serial publications, and his privately-published works.
"Beyond Words" also includes a number of extra features:
Chronology of Rabbi Kahane's life.
"Beyond Words" now can be bought at Amazon.com. On the search line, type… Beyond Words Kahane.
Selected Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane,
A JEWISH HEART
"There is a time to love, and a time to hate."
"There is a time to live in time of peace and a time to hate in time of war . . . there is a time to kill in time of war and a time to heal in time of peace."
(Vayikra Rabbah 3)
The total contradiction between so much of Judaism and Western, foreign cultural Hellenism could not be more evident than in the case of the heart transplant last November in Israel. Then, the heart of a Jewish soldier, murdered from an ambush in the Gaza Strip, was placed in the chest of an Arab "Palestinian," Hanna Haddad. And how the non-Jewish world exploded in joy! And how the perversion of authentic Jewish values and concepts came crashing down in the sickly need to win favor in the eyes of the nations and to feel the comforting warmth of self-righteousness. And how all the anti-racists privately and not so privately purred with pleasure at the "Jewish heart" that is so "unique" and that climbs mountainous deeds of ethics and morality that no one else could. Indeed.
Not only have Jews lost every sense of authentic Judaism, falling prey and victim to all the foreign and gentilized misvalues of Hellenism, but thanks to the debilitating effects of an abnormal exile, they have lost all sense of normality, too. Consider: The widow of the murdered soldier blesses the act. Yossi Sarid writes an article that begins: "How is it possible not to write about Ze'ev Traum's heart, transplanted into the chest of Hanna Haddad – may he live a long life . . . "
"We do not have a Jewish heart and they do not have an Arab heart but a personal human heart, and if we follow our embroiled nationalism we harden our heart, we make it as hard as Pharaoh's heart." And Sarid concludes: "Those who have the heart saved one soul and filled an entire world with hope."
There were pages and pages and speeches and speeches of similar paeans of praise for the humanity shown by Jews. And the story became the very symbol of the "Jewish heart" that transcends enmity and hatred and war, that saves the life of a man who hates the Jewish state and dreams of its destruction. No matter! The Jew is not supposed to hate the enemy; he is above that. So the conventional wisdom of the gentilized Jews of Hellenism.
It is hardly new. In Rosh HaShana messages to the Israeli soldiers, both Defense Minister Rabin and Chief-of-Staff Shomron – men deeply rooted in ignorance of Judaism – sent messages of profound Hellenism and madness to the Jewish soldiers facing an enemy filled with venomous hate for the Jews and deep passion for the day when the Jewish state will cease to exist. Rabin said: "Alongside your obligation to crush all attempted violence, you must always remember that the people against whom you struggle today are the same people that in a few months or years we will wish to live with in peace, to be good neighbors." One struggles to recall a similar message to the Allied troops in World War II concerning the Nazi armies . . .
And the Chief-of-Staff told his troops" "In the difficult and complex daily work, we have succeeded, except for minor exceptions, in preserving the basic values and ethics of the I.D.F." Meanwhile, of course, that by giving the soldiers orders that tied their hands; the killing of the Arab enemy was kept to a minimum while guaranteeing the continuation of the Arab rioting.
And when General Yitzhak Mordechai concluded his term as commander of the southern sector (that included Gaza), he said: "Personally and as a commander, I wish to express my sorrow over every one in the area who was killed or wounded from the (I.D.F.) activities that were necessary." No, there is nothing to say.
But to return to the "Jewish heart," and to ponder the depths – the sheer depths! – of Jewish psychosis. On the day of the funeral of the soldier who was murdered and whose heart was given to a member of the nation that murdered him, a Jewish contractor named Yehuda Yisrael told how, one year earlier, in December 1988, his brother lay dying, attached to a machine. The family had 24 hours in which to find an available heart. And this is what Yehuda Yisrael told Ma'ariv (Nov. 11, 1989): "At that time in the (Arab East Jerusalem Hospital) Al Mukassed, there were two young Arabs wounded in the intifada and they were already clinically brain dead. We contacted the Arab doctor in an attempt to have him get us a heart, but he refused. When we saw that it was not working, we offered a great deal of money . . . . "The heart was never given and the brother died.
But there is more to the story. Yehuda Yisrael, whose brother died because Arabs would not give a heart to the Jewish enemy, continues: "I am happy that Hanna Haddad found a Jewish heart donor. It is a humanitarian gesture. It is good that the world sees Jews prepared to contribute a heart to the Arabs, too, even in these sad times. The fact that they would not give a heart to my brother only proves that we are more humane than they . . . . "Or perhaps . . .
And as a final point in this descent into the Jewish snakepit of insanity, the same article by Yossi Sarid described how he had been asked to find a heart for the same Jew (presumably he was asked because he is such a good friend of the Arabs). Sarid pleaded with his Arab friends but they would not give the heart. As Sarid quotes the Arabs: "Those killed in the intifada are martyrs, martyrs of the entire Palestinian nation, and their heart already belongs to it . . . ." (And in addition, what normal Arab would give a heart to save the life of a Jew, his deadly enemy who took his land from him?)
The tragedy of our times is the loss of Divine Jewish values, one of which is the obligation to hate evil; to hate the enemy. We have – thanks to the gentilized values that have swallowed us up – lost our sense of indignation against evil, forgotten to hate it with a passion. And because of that, good people die even as we allow the evil ones to live, flourish and kill them.
Hanna Haddad, the "Palestinian" is part of a nation that wishes to destroy Israel and commit horrors on its Jews. He sees the Jews as thieves, as robbers who stole "Palestine" from his people. He sees the Israeli soldiers as oppressors, and he sees Jerusalem, where he lives, as his city, just as he sees Jaffa, Haifa, Ramla, Lydda, Acre, the Galilee and the Negev. He supports the intifada; he wishes the "fighters" success; he takes pride in the rocks and firebombs thrown by the brave young "Palestinians." And Jews give him a heart to save his life, a heart taken from a Jewish soldier murdered by Hanna Haddad's brothers. And Jews cheer and weep tears of happiness over this humane act that only proves that a "Jewish heart" is better than the hard Arab one . . .
We are mad. Would anyone dream of doing such a thing for a German during World War II? Of taking the heart of an American soldier from Sioux City killed in battle by Germans and giving it to a German to save his life? No American or Frenchman or Englishman or Russian or anyone remotely normal would have considered it! Only the Jew, in pathetic and deeply disturbed need to win the love of the Arabs and the world, does it and attempts to cloak his insanity in "Judaism" and "Jewish values." Not only are we mad, but un-Jewish, gentilized, Hellenized perverters of the authentic Jewish Idea and halachic.
To hate the enemy is a mitzvah, for nothing less than that will give us the understanding that evil must be fought to the end, and nothing less than that will give us the strength and confidence that we are right and that our war is just. And when the Rabbis speak of "a time for war and a time to hate" – what do the gentilized Hellenists of our time think they mean? And what are the voices of the Moderdox from the West Side and Beverly Hills to tell them? To tell themselves?
"You who love the L-rd, hate evil!" That is the injunction of King David, the sweet singer of Israel, in Psalms 97:10. And in the words of Ibn Ezra (ibid.): "the L-rd is judge, therefore you who love Him, hate every man of evil and be not afraid of them, for the L-rd alone preserves His pious." And again, David in Psalms (139:20-22): "They speak against You wickedly and Your enemies take Your Name in vain. Do I not hate, O L-rd, those who hate You? And do I not contend with those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; I regard them as my own enemies."
There is a time for war; there is a time for hatred. And at such a time it is a mitzvah to hate, a mitzvah to go to war, and the one who refuses – violates the mitzvah, abhors G-d who created morality. "When you go to war against your enemy . . . (Deuteronomy 20:1) Why does it say 'your enemy'? [since obviously one goes to war against an enemy and not a friend]. Said the All Mighty: 'Go against them as enemies! Just as they do not have mercy upon you, so do not have mercy on them'" (Tanchuma, Shoftim 15). That is Judaism.
Do not be "better" than they, since in the end you will not be better but deader. And certainly do not be "better" than the All Mighty, who commanded you to be cruel and merciless against those who rise up against you and against G-d, "for whoever rises up against Israel is as one who rises up against the Holy One, Blessed be He" (Mechilta, B'shalach).
And the Sifri (Shoftim 192): "Against your enemies [you go to war] and not against your brothers, neither Yehuda against Shimon nor Shimon against Yehuda who, if you fell into their hands, would have mercy on you . . . but against your enemies you go to war, who would not have mercy on you."
And Eyleh ha'Dvarim Zuta: You go to war against your enemies. If you have mercy on them, they will then go to war against you. It is similar to a shepherd who, while tending his sheep in a forest, found a baby wolf. He had pity on it and nurtured it. His employer saw it and said: Kill it; do not have pity on it lest it be a danger to the sheep. But he did not listen and so when the wolf grew it would see a sheep and kill it, a goat and eat it. Said the employer: Did I not tell you not to have pity on it? So did Moses say: 'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, then those whom you will allow to remain of them will be thorns in your eyes . . .' (Numbers 33:55)."
That is Judaism. That is authentic Judaism. And true Judaism looks upon every member of an enemy nation as an enemy, unless he proves that he is not. Yes, there is collective punishment in Judaism.