Last month you were about to find out what your aging loved ones truly want for the third half of their lives (using the form, “What Do I Want For the 3rd ½ of My Life” that you downloaded from the Newsletter page of my website (

The next step, then is to look at what they wrote and figure out what their responses mean. The easiest way to explain how to do this is by using an actual example.

This list was written by a very healthy, spry and spirited 93-year old widow who lived alone in her own home about 50 miles from 3 of her 11 children. Everyone, including her 18 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren, were concerned about her living alone and the general consensus was that she should move into an assisted living community near one of them where she would be “taken care of”. The family had been “working” on her for almost 6 months and by the time they contacted me, their mother refused to see or speak to any of them! The family and I worked together for almost a month before they were able to mend fences with their mother enough for her to be willing to write the following list:

~ Do what I want, when I want

~ To come and go as I please

~ Keep my treasures around me

~ Everyone stop nagging me

~ Visit with my friends whenever I want

~ Cook and eat what I want, whenever I want

~ Someone to do the maintenance on the house

~ To be a part of my family\’s lives

~ Have my family visit because they want to, not because they have to or because it\’s a responsibility

~ Go to sleep and get up whenever I want

~ Have friends visit

~ Go ballroom dancing with Harry (husband)

~ Learn to use a computer so I can email family & friends and work on the family genealogy

~ Start singing in a choir again

~ Learn to tap dance

~ Travel for at least a month in Ireland and find “lost” relatives

~ Go to my 75th high school reunion

As you can see, there was still some lingering resentment but she clearly wanted to be part of her family\’s life and for them to be a part of hers – but without the nagging or feeling like a responsibility. There were also several other themes: to be independent, learn new things, and to keep involved – and she was willing to have help. The only red flag was her reference to dancing with her deceased husband.

What would you suggest to help her get what she wants while at the same time, doing what\’s in her best interest? Think about it and next month we\’ll look at what we came up with that gave her everything she wanted and everything her family wanted for her, too.


Take a look at your loved one\’s list. With their responses and some reading between the lines, you will be able to pick out the central themes of what your aging loved one really wants. Then, thinking creatively, ask yourself what you would suggest to help them achieve what they want that is also in their best interest.

Barbara Friesner is the country's leading Generational Coach and an expert on issues affecting Seniors and their families. She has been interviewed for Advising Boomers magazine, featured on NY1 TV's Focus on Seniors and Coping with Caregiving on wsRadio. She has also been quoted in newspapers and magazines across the country and her articles have been published in the CAPSule, the Children of Aging Parent's newsletter.