HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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advocate. Have an alternative if possible. It doesn’t have to be a family member; it can be a friend.


•  Be sure to check your state laws to see if your doctor can go against your wishes.


•  Give a copy of your directives to people close to you as well as your doctor.


•  Review your instructions every year.


•  The simpler it is, the better.


Your list of wishes does not have to be notarized, but it does help if it is written down so when the time comes, your loved ones can consult it and ensure they are fulfilling their promises to you. If anyone protests a decision made on your behalf, the list can placate them and assure them that what is being done is what you wanted. A directive makes it easier to practice rational decision-making. And you can always change the document.


“It’s a living plan, not a dying plan, so your doctor knows your goals and how to manage your care,” Aziz said. “We are working from the goals of living – how you want to live and how you don’t want to live.”

While it is difficult to talk about end-of-life issues, it’s vitally important that you communicate your wishes to your loved ones well before you need to.


“It’s called having ‘courageous conversations,’” said Dr. Shahid Aziz, a medical ethicist and hospice and palliative care physician currently working with adults and children in multiple hospitals and hospices in the Baltimore/ Washington, D.C. area. Aziz says advanced care planning is part of palliative care.


“Patients say, ‘Why do I have to talk about this now? Ask me when the time comes,’” Aziz said. “The fallacy in that is you never know what will happen or when it will happen, and a majority of people will not be able to talk when it does. There are diseases where you lose the capacity to make decisions. You don’t want to get stuck in that situation.


How do you start the conversation with family and friends who are reluctant to discuss death and dying? Aziz says it’s as simple as sitting down together and showing them an article like this. You can discuss medical ethical questions about having your life prolonged by artificial means such as dialysis and IV nutrition. You can talk about DNRs (do not resuscitate in case of cardiac arrest) and other types of directives. These decisions about how you want to live – and die – are best made when you are still mentally capable and clearheaded.

COURAGEOUS CONVERSATIONS: TIME TO HAVE A TALK

The bottom line is, only you can decide what living fully and consciously means to you. Aziz offers the question: “What is the lowest level of existence that is OK for you?” You alone can answer that.


Your physician’s role is to guide you through your illness and to be honest about the outcomes. He or she should ask: “Are you enjoying your life? Is it good? What do you want?” And he or she should respect and enforce your wishes.


Out of his 20 years of experience in this discipline, Aziz offers some advice for creating a medical directive:


•  Make clear what is important to you. If you want doctors to stop treatment when it’s no longer beneficial, say so.


•  Note which artificial treatments you don’t want to prolong your life. You can also specify a time limit to artificial treatment.


•  Choose someone who knows what you want and don’t want to be your

TANYA J. TYLER

Tanya J. Tyler is the Editor of Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by tanya J. tyler