Aging & Caregiving

Making Meaning: The Second Half of Life

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“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. 

Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition 

that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. 

But we cannot live the afternoon of life

 according to the program of life’s morning, 

for what was great in the morning will be little at evening 

and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.”      

 Carl G. Jung

 

Jungian Psychology looks to the second half of life as a time of searching for personal meaning. Believing in continuous development across the lifespan and maintaining that individuation is a spiritual path toward wholeness, Carl Jung proposed Seven Tasks of Aging (see below). 

  

As we become older a role reversal takes place and we find ourselves in the position of caring for our parents or loved ones. For some, this is a gradual process and for others it is thrust upon us quite suddenly. Regardless, it is a life transition we will eventually all face and it can be an emotional roller coaster. You are not alone on the caregiver journey and there are many community resources available.


Caregiving for a parent catapults you back into the undercurrents of your family of origin and can often bring up feelings of resentment, guilt, or grief. Dealing with overwhelming emotions can cloud your judgment and place strain on your current relationships. Sometimes this leads to anxiety and depression. It is important to take care of yourself so that you can be available for your loved ones. Asking for help does not come easily for some; however, now is a time in your life when it could be very affirming for you. Sometimes it can be very constructive to seek neutral and confidential support outside of your circle of family and friends. I have education, training and experience in aging and long-term care that can be extremely supportive in helping you to assess needs, clarify concerns and navigate family dynamics. 

Seven Tasks of Aging by Carl Jung

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  1. To face the reality of age and death-from the middle of life onward, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life. Accepting the reality of death lets us live life fully.
  2. The need to review, reflect upon, and sum up one’s life. It is the need to tell one’s story before one dies. How interesting that we tell the story and look for the meaning when we memorialize a life, but do we listen when that person is still living?
  3. Draw some conscious mental boundaries beyond which it is not reasonable to expend the remainder of one’s time and energy. Consciously letting go of one’s burdens and aspirations lets one focus total attention and energy not only on what is attainable, but on what is one’s truest concern.
  4. Letting go of the dominance of one’s ego. Letting go.
  5. A new rooting in the Self. Bringing together the opposites in the most complete expression of our wholeness, which is also our uniqueness-the god within us.
  6. Finding the meaning of one’s life. In Jungian terms this is coordinating one’s memories with important outer happenings until a sense of one’s archetypal ground plan is revealed, and through it a reason for existence. We are connected to historical and universal meaning, a sense of life purpose fulfilled.
  7. Rebirth-dying with life. The creative function. It is a playful approach to life, using all the possibilities that life has to offer, not in an ego-dominated way, but as a creative artist or child at play. Living itself becomes the point, and the unexpected becomes the raw material of its exploration. One      is one’s own authority.

Caregiving Resources

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Santa Clara County/Sourcewise Community Resource Solutions: (408) 350-3200

(Extensive database of community resources, including caregiver support, care management, legal, etc.)

www.mysourcewise.com


Eldercare Locator: (800) 677-1116

(to locate an Area Agency on Aging anywhere in the USA, very useful for long distance caregiving)

www.eldercare.gov


Family Caregiver Alliance / National Center on Caregiving: (800) 445-8106

(Seeks to improve the quality of life for caregivers through education, services, research and advocacy)

www.caregiver.org


San Mateo County Office on Aging and Adult Services: 1-800-675-TIES (8437)

www.sanmateo.networkofcare.org/aging


BOOKS

Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders 

by Mary Pipher, PhD (1999).


Necessary Losses: The Loves, Illusions, Dependencies and Impossible Expectations That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Grow 

by Judith Viorst (1998).


The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking after Yourself and Your Family while Helping an Aging Parent 

by Barry Jacobs (2006).


How to Care for Aging Parents: A One-Stop Guide for All Your Medical, Financial, Housing and Emotional Issues 

by Virginia Morris (2014)