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Conversations on Aging are interesting, confidential

I discovered Volunteers Involved for the Emotional Well-Being of Seniors (VIEWS), a program of Cascade Behavioral Health, in the fall of 2015.

I attended one of their Conversations on Aging because I was curious and wanted to know more about aging. I thought this might be a good way to connect with people and avoid feeling isolated.

The conversations are held in the Portland area at senior centers and senior living communities. The conversations are free, and participants agree to confidentiality. They usually involved just eight to 10 people, and are held in a private room. All attendees are encouraged to participate, but you can pass if you wish. Volunteer monitors, who are trained by VIEWS and are at least 55 years old, keep the conversation on track. Conversations last 90 minutes.

After attending my first Conservation on Aging, I decided to try it again. In my opinion, this was fun; the people were interesting; and I came away having learned something useful. And you never know when an acquaintance may turn into a friendship.

I attended these conversations and came away with these nuggets of knowledge:

  • Forgetfulness — Where Did I Put My Glasses? While losing glasses or keys may be concerning, that may just be a normal part of aging. Everyone agreed they had experienced this, and noted that if you forget someone’s name at lunch, you often remember it later in the day.

  • Giving Up the Keys: Whether you are thinking about giving up driving, or have stopped, this creates changes you must address. Thinking about this ahead of time was the best choice for me. Through the conversation, I discovered there were options besides taking the bus to help me get to medical appointments, the grocery store and the senior center.

  • Heart to Heart: This conversation explored feelings about preparing for your own end-of-life care. Through this conversation, I learned I had done the right thing when I got my will, power of attorney, health care power of attorney and advanced care directive together and put them in a safe place where my son can find them. Everyone should complete an advanced-care directive.

    n Learning from Grief and Loss: This was a conversation on finding your unique path through grief. I learned that aging is a journey, and we will experience losses that are not connected with death. Losses can include a loss of balance, hearing, sight, friends and independence.

  • Staying Engaged in Life: This conversation explored the difference between sadness, depression and grief, and we shared ideas of how to make “dark” days a little brighter. I learned the medical definitions of sadness, depression and grief, and will be able to recognize when I am “feeling off” if it is time to talk to my doctor. One woman shared her experience with seasonal affective disorder and how it affects her life.

    My Aunt Mollie lived to age 103, and she told me that her secret to aging was to be active. My dad lived to age 90, and he read several papers a day and did each paper’s crossword puzzle. So I may have many years ahead of me.

    You might enjoy participating in programs offered by VIEWS. Upcoming events include a Conversation on Aging on the topic of holiday wellness to be held from 10-11:30 a.m. Nov. 10 at Hollyfield Apartments, 4077 Sunset Drive in Lake Oswego. It will cover identifying what is most important in holiday celebrations and explore ways to celebrate what you value. To register, call Hollyfield Apartments at 503-953-3508.

    Kathryn Kendall is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.