General Interest

Empty Nest Syndrome and Other ‘After Fifty’ Changes

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JALSquareHot on the heels of Mother’s Day, the topic of “Empty Nest Syndrome” came up in a group I belong to. “I’m too busy to be suffering from syndromes,” said one person. “Oh, empty nest syndrome? It’s not even real,” said another. But, according to none other than “yours truly” and the Mayo Clinic, reactions to having one’s nest emptied can be real, varied, and even profound.

Empty Nest Syndrome can occur when one’s chickens have totally emptied the nest. Many of us may be stunned by the fact that one day we’re tripping over Junior’s dirty laundry while the next day, Junior and his laundry have moved on. “Hooray!!!” say some – while others of us may be, well, flummoxed.

Let’s not debate if ENS really exists. Of course it does. But it can be more profound among those who are unprepared for or are in denial about events that involve inevitable change.

These After Fifty years can be are noteworthy for the numerous changes that occur. What’s probably most noteworthy, however, is how unprepared we are for many of these inevitabilities. ENS? It’s just one of many.

• From the moment our children are born, we know that the chances are pretty darn good that they’re going to grow, mature, and inevitably, hopefully, want to start lives of their own. So, why are we so “in shock” when the breakfast table is empty.
• We may still have a time-clock to punch, yet so many of us struggle with the concept of retirement. So many are unprepared for the financial, emotional, social realities of a life without the structure of a work-day to guide us.
• We’ve been watching our parents and other love ones age, many of whom have become enfeebled. We watch as family tries to come to grips with how to care for these loved ones. Yet, in spite of the drama unfolding in front of us, we put-off and ignore the fact that sooner than we think, we too will need “caring.”
• We read about it every day. The value of a healthy diet and regular exercise is enormous not only for our brain and other body parts, but also for the health of our social and emotional well-being. Yet, we don’t take action.

Why are we so unprepared for these changes? Confronting and preparing for change can be a difficult and unsettling venture. Yet we can’t hide from it – it’ll always find us.

The knights of the middle ages donned their armor when they went out to do battle. Each of us is facing our own extraordinary set of battles. So pull your head out of the sand and put on your armor. Dragons are an inevitable part of life. It’s best to be prepped.

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