By Tammy I. Glenn, founder, HomeBoundResources.com
As a freshman journalism student, one of the first assignments I received was to write my own obituary. I was all of 20 years old at the time. I’m sure the final draft is stuffed in a file cabinet somewhere. I’m prone to saving things of that nature.
It’s a challenging exercise that really forces one to think forward in life, and that’s not easy to do given all the uncertainties that come with time. Still, it’s valuable to dream and fantasize, to role play and plan out the steps.
A few years later, I stumbled upon another life-planning technique. Someone suggested to me that I could determine where I wanted to be in one year if I were to back out the steps month by month, day by day, hour by hour. So, I tried that exercise as well. In theory, if you know you want to complete 12 chapters of your manuscript, that’s one chapter per month. If each chapter takes 10 hours to write, then blocking out two and a half hours every Sunday morning might be a good plan for reaching that goal.
Factoring in the unexpected is where I encounter the most difficulty, though I will say that having the rest of my plan in place helps me to weave in the surprises. Spontaneity is not one of my strengths, though some economic trends indicate that more and more people are preparing for Planned Spontaneity!
Whether it’s dating sites, airline and hotel discounts, electronic coupons, or alerts that pop on your cell phone, the trend is encouraging low-cost opportunities that a person can take quick advantage of on the fly. All of these appeal to a longing for instant gratification. That quick fix that makes us feel good.
To demonstrate how that trend is actually manifesting itself, did you know that some of the major dating sites like lavalife.com have enough members to exchange 1 million messages per day? More than 45 million Americans log on to dating sites every month! The article I read on TrendWatching.com also indicates that low airfares and discounted hotel rates are encouraging people to take quick trips for 25 hours or longer. Finally, applications for our cell phones are being developed that not only highlight local, special events, but may even tell you if a friend is “in the neighborhood”!
So, how does this work when you’re a caregiver to a homebound patient? For one, you can at least begin exercising your right to dream. For two, if the occasion does arise where you have 25 hours to split the scene, start tucking a couple hundred dollars away in the piggy bank! If you’re like me, I don’t want to look back and realize that I could have been more spontaneous if I’d planned accordingly!
Tammy I. Glenn is the founder of www.HomeBoundResources.com . She serves as an expert advisor on elder care/aging to KCET-TV Los Angeles, is a member of the Board of Advisors for the National Senior Citizens Bureau and the Executive Director for www.vcCaregivers.org. She has nearly 20 years of experience as a caregiver to her mother and is the author of “The Carefree Caregiver: A Short Course to Peace of Mind” in addition to numerous contributed articles.