Things We’ll Do Differently When We’re Old

By observing his parents’ behavior, a writer made a personal to-do list for aging

If we’re lucky, our parents’ actions can serve as inspiration for who we hope to become as we age. But for most people, there are at least one or two things — usually more — parents do that serve as cautionary tales.
Adult children of aging parents often find themselves hyperanalyzing the behaviors and choices of their mothers and fathers and using this information as motivation to do things a bit differently. That’s exactly the case for journalist Steven Petrow, who wrote about a list of things he will and won’t do as he ages in a recent New York Times article, “Things I’ll Do Differently When I’m Old.”

Soon after Petrow’s 50th birthday, he began keeping this list as he watched his parents become unwilling to acclimate to the realities of aging.

Petrow described his list as a “highly judgmental and super secret accounting of all the things [he] thought [his] parents were doing wrong.” He wrote that the entries directly reflected the frustration that came with seeing the price his parents paid for their stubbornness.

The Self-Awareness to Hand Over the Keys
One of Petrow’s aging to-dos is knowing when it’s time to give up driving. This is an issue that affects every older person who drives. As of 2012, there were about 30 million licensed drivers 65 and older, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In a previous Next Avenue story, we recognized the difficulties people have in knowing how and when to have tough conversations about driving.

“Many family members or caregivers wonder what they should do if they think a loved one’s driving skills have diminished,” the story said. “And that’s the dilemma. Family members don’t know how to assess their loved one’s driving abilities. They dread approaching an older loved one to discuss whether he or she needs to modify his or her driving habits or even stop driving.”

After his mother ignored his qualms about her slew of fender benders, Petrow felt trapped and reported her to the D.M.V., which — after a driving test — revoked her license. To avoid this future shame, Petrow wrote on his list:

“If my driving capability is questioned, I will not reject the comment out of hand because I am afraid of losing my independence. I hope there will be self-driving cars by then. If nothing else works, I hope someone will turn me in.”

Accepting Dependence and Asking for Help
An underlying theme on Petrow’s list is having the bravery and humility to accept your aging self as you are and the will to adapt accordingly — a sentiment he wished his parents could embrace.

This includes using a walker when necessary (“I’ll use a walker rather than fall and break bones”), accepting incontinence (“I will choose the humiliation of wearing adult diapers over the humiliation of wetting my bed and having someone else clean the sheets”) and keeping up appearances if only to feel good — even if it requires asking for help (“If I can’t take care of my personal grooming any more, I will find help.”)

He addressed emotional goals as well:

“If I’m hurt or angry by what’s happening to me or my body, I will do my best not to take it out on those who are closest to me.”

“I will be kind.”

“I will apologize.”

A Nod to Self-Care
Lately at Next Avenue, we’ve been writing a lot about self-care: We have a self-care action plan and know the factors that tend to sabotage self-care practices.

Consider an exercise like Petrow’s list a practice in self-care. Not only is it a method of reflecting on your wants and needs, it’s also a step towards holding yourself accountable and working toward a better future for your aging self.

We can’t change other people — and it’s not our job to try — but we can observe what’s happening around us, and from that, pledge to make different, more informed choices.


Written by Grace Birnstengel December 15, 2017 read more

Falls: Steps to Lower Your Risk

by Dr. Deepa Pattani, Guest Author

Falling is NOT an inevitable result of aging. Yet, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among seniors. In the U.S, an older adult is treated every 13 seconds in an emergency room for a fall related injury. Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.

Most people over age 65 have likely either already taken a tumble or spent time worrying about doing so. Falling is scary, especially if you live alone. Reduce your risk of injury by being proactive about making appropriate lifestyle modifications, educating yourself about falls prevention, and managing your medications effectively.


Lower body weakness
Difficulty balancing or walking.
Hazards in your home such as broken or uneven steps, floor clutter, or the lack of handrails in the bathroom or staircase
Foot pain or inappropriate footwear
Vision problems
Vitamin D deficiency
Medications such as: tranquilizers, sedatives, heart medicine, and/or psychotropic drugs


Ask your physician to assess your risk of falling
Build flexibility and strength by participating in a balance or exercise program
Discuss medications and possible interactions with your physician or pharmacist – include over the counter drugs and supplements
Check your vision and hearing annually
Wear properly fitted and comfortable shoes appropriate for your lifestyle
Make your home safe: get rid of floor clutter, put grab bars/ railings in the bathroom and by stairs, install proper lighting, secure throw rugs to the floor and place food and other items within easy reach
Falls, or even fears about falling, threaten our safety and independence. An increasing number of older adults worry about falling, and limit their activities and social engagements as a result.

Do not wait until you fall to take action! Take good care of yourself and your health. Enlist support from friends and family to help you lower your risk of falling and avoid becoming one of the statistics.


Deepa Pattani, PhD is the Pharmacist-in-charge/Owner at Allen Pharmacy & Wellness, a full-service retail pharmacy providing individualized patient care. Dr. Pattani is also the owner of PrevInteract Health, a pharmacy consulting company focused on helping individuals taking 3 or more medications prevent drug-drug, drug-food and drug-supplement interactions to decrease necessary hospitalizations. Contact Dr. Pattani at 972-372-9775 or

Allen Pharmacy and Wellness is located at 945 W Stacy Rd, Suite 110, Allen, Tx 75013.

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