I’ve been thinking about an article my intern presented this week on the role of coping patterns in successful aging and the difference between a reactive versus a proactive response to a situation. As it implies, the proactive response entails planning ahead, thinking of preferences, considering potential challenges and researching resources and supports in preparation for a care crisis. A reactive response implies living in the moment, going with the flow and then dealing with the care crisis when it occurs. The research suggests that there are pros and cons for both coping strategies. Both responses carry a fair degree of anxiety. Planning for potential crises can cause anxiety when thinking about the inevitable. Reacting in the moment to a crisis leaves one vulnerable in a time of need. And both responses are influenced by one’s ability to adapt and the strength of the social support system in place.
It appears to me that our goal is to find that balance between the two. The proactive approach appears to be beneficial as long as we keep the inevitable in perspective. And we can still savor the moments and enjoy the days for what they bring with the understanding and acceptance of those things that may come and cannot be changed. The well-known Serenity Prayer comes to mind.
In our newsletter we usually focus on the proactive approach. We present information on planning ahead like knowing the difference between inpatient and observational hospitalization status and how to ask for help. We provide contact information for the VA, professional caregivers and caregiver classes. Today, I’d like to remind us as well to savor the moments, to enjoy the gifts of today and to know that we are sharing so much. Thanks again for allowing us to be a part of your team.
Cheryl Robinson, LCSW