Getting to Know Yourself: Five Things to Consider

By Marilyn L. Pinsky


Author’s note: This is the third-part interview with Joy Loverde, author of “Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? Plan Now to Safeguard Your Health and Happiness in Old Age.”

Author Joy Loverde feels it is essential in making good decisions to get to know yourself better. I chose five examples of what to consider giving thought to immediately, regardless of present circumstances.

1. Do You Justify Bad Decisions?

Loverde explains that “failure to prevent a crisis that causes hardship on others has serious consequences. You will be held 100% responsible for your decisions and outcomes.

• Do you envision refusing to relocate out of your current residence when personal safety dictates otherwise?

• Might you insist on driving long past when it is safe to do so?

• Do you have a habit of refusing to listen to others’ ideas and observations?

• Do you have difficulty owning up to mistakes?”

Giving thought to these questions now will save you a lot of heartache down the road.

2. Social Life…or not

“Even if you are presently partnered, chances are that at some point you won’t be, and you need to prepare for that eventuality,” says Loverde. “The first step is taking the time to know yourself better and then deciding how you stand on living, … and dying, alone. That will help you decide where and how you want to live.”

“If you were partnered, you might have had an active social life, but often one partner created that life. Now you have to figure out who you are, or will be, as a single person and that starts with knowing if you are outgoing and social or quiet and content.”

“Not everyone wants a group of people around them all the time,” says Loverde. “This process is not about changing your lifestyle; if you live alone and you love it, make your wishes known. Own who you are. By our age, we know what we like and what we don’t and we deserve to take a stand on that. To take it a step further, if you choose to live alone, then it’s your responsibility to let family and friends know.”

Even if you’re a loner, that doesn’t mean you should be alone all the time. We’ve all heard about the studies on how social isolation in older people has a major negative effect on their health. That alone is reason enough to figure out how to create some level of a social life. But even if you’ve always been a social person, life changes. Family members and longtime friends die, move away and suddenly you find yourself friendless.

3. Living options

“If you are someone who likes having people around, start looking at living options where you’d feel comfortable. Explore places where you would like to move that 1- fit in your budget, 2- are near good medical care, and 3- provide a social network. There is a limited supply of affordable housing so you need to start early and get on a few lists for places that meet your criteria. Finding the right place takes time and effort and starting before the situation becomes a crisis means you maintain control of where you live.”

4. Recreating a Life

Loverde gives great ideas for a fulfilling life. “Consider getting a job, it can even be one you can do from home but where you’ll have social contact on the phone or computer.”

“Serving others is a wonderful way to meet people who are also fortunate enough to be in a position to volunteer and to be part of a solution for people who don’t have what we have.”

“Take the initiative to invite people to your home for just a simple dinner or start a tradition of pot luck meals once a week with other people in the same situation. Look around your neighborhood or building and see how many people are also living alone and reach out to them with this idea.”

“Take a cooking class and invite your fellow students and friends home to cook with you.”

“Enjoy dining at a senior center.”

“At food courts in a mall, museum, zoo, baseball stadium, you can enjoy a meal surrounded by others.”

“Take your food to a park, the beach, an outdoor concert or another pleasing sight and eat there.”

5. Evolving Friendships

“It is important to know the difference between a friend and an acquaintance so we are not disappointed when transitions in our lives happen and the people we thought would be there for us are not.”

“We also need to get good at knowing when a relationship has run its course. It might have been a relationship through work and that common bond is not there anymore or recognizing that sometimes people just grow apart.”

Reliability vs. trustworthiness. “There are friends you can rely on for going out to dinner and having a great time but not so much for keeping confidences. If you know that in advance, you’ll know what you should and shouldn’t say and then you won’t be upset with them.”

“Friends and family require ongoing love and attention. Consider throwing parties for no reason, but just to celebrate life. Make it a habit to schedule walks, binge-watch favorite TV shows or take a fitness class together.”

In conclusion, I cannot tell you how much I have personally gotten from this book. It is a huge understatement to say that I chose just a few of the hundreds of Loverde’s wonderful ideas for planning for a successful aging.

“Readers should open the book to the table of contents and choose one pressing topic at a time,” says Loverde. “This is not meant to be read cover-to-cover and then shelved away, rather it is a guide to use again and again, as that is how life is. Transitions happen throughout our lives — they never end. This book can be used both to plan with and as a guide in the moment, when you need some direction.”