Written by Panorama resident, Deb Ross. March 2016
In the first week of March, Panorama initiated a year-long program called “Embracing Life,” based on the principles expressed in Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal. The first event, sponsored by the Panorama Library, was a PBS Frontline film about Gawande and his ideas, shown to a full house in the auditorium. Three discussion sessions were scheduled for the following week, to explore the issues raised in the book and the film. I had the honor of facilitating the first session on March 8. I asked the participants to answer three questions: What makes your life worth living? What have you already done to achieve or prolong this? and What do you plan to do in the next twelve months? The answers were far-ranging and inspirational. Here are some of the common themes:
What makes my life worth living?
- Keeping Mobile/Travel
- Preserving Health
- Panorama neighbors and friends, and other friends
- Mental Health/Memory
- Spiritual Issues
- Sense of Humor
- Enjoying Life
What have I done, or plan to do, to achieve or prolong this?
- Moving to Panorama!
- Getting important documents in order: wills, other legal documents, powers of attorney Talking with family and making sure they are on board with wishes
- Getting finances in order
- Taking care of health
- Dealing with stuff (downsizing, inventory)
- Finding ways to keep spouse happy and healthy
- Finding alternatives when I can no longer do certain things due to health, mobility, sensory issues
- Having a positive attitude, enjoy life as it comes every day
- Being prepared for change, seize opportunities
- Taking classes such as Brainfit
- Moving to Quinault when advisable
- Using time wisely, and taking control of my own schedule
- Taking steps to preserve ability to continue in independent living, including calling on Hospice when the time comes
This list doesn’t adequately capture the depth and variety of responses. One couple, who had both been widowed, met here and married two years ago, and take great joy in each others’ company. Another finds spiritual sustenance by helping others. Another said he greeted every day with delight at being alive and healthy. The two overriding themes expressed by our residents were first, that the pursuit of happiness is the most important thing to them, in all its many forms; and that moving to Panorama was a huge step towards achieving that goal.
I look forward to participating in the forums and sessions around the theme of Embracing Life over the next several months, and continuing to learn both from residents and presenters how we can embrace life, while recognizing our own mortality.