Contentment

Friday, February 20, 2015
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As I sat listening to Cola Franzen a noted poet and translator I couldn't help but notice how much she smiled during our visit. I asked her, what her secret was to such happiness. Without hesitation she responded " I am content."

Contentment is defined as a state of peacefulness , happiness. Since that meeting with Cola last November, I now find myself asking this question. I then decided to start asking elders "are they content?". I might note that I have been in the field of aging for over 35 years, and being of Irish Immigrant decent, I have been blessed to engage in many rich conversations about aging with my relatives .

I find a lot of elders have something very meaningful to say to me and often to their families. So discussing contentment became a useful tool. For instance just this week, an elder before defining if she was content went on to say she realized her journey of aging has taken on different acceptances and acknowledgment of where she was in the aging continuum and where she is now. Another elder said she had not given it much thought and yet one other expressed she was still working on it!

Now I find myself asking the sons and daughters how they envision a life for their elder keeping the theme of contentment. If the elder can converse I ask families to consider discussing this with their parent. For those that cannot express themselves, I have the family members discuss what they envision based on contentment.

The "conversation" these days for families, seems to be based on end of life discussions but I am wondering maybe we first should start with a conversation of contentment.