That's us. So said Dennis McCullough, M.D. about those of us aging in the Upper Valley. It may be just one benefit to growing older here rather than say, the left coast, where rumor has it that just about everyone is nipped and tucked and without expression.
Almost 100 people gathered Wednesday evening for "Before We Go--Planning Our Last Days," a program held at the Norwich Congregational Church and created by Aging in Place Norwich. After a welcome by pastor Mary Brownlow and opening remarks by Dr. McCullough, each member of a panel spoke briefly: Tim Caldwell, estate planner; Melina Hill-Walker, Director of the DHMC Aging Resource Center; Dan Stadler, M.D., DHMC geriatrician; and Maryellen Corliss, RN, hospice provider at Bayada of the Upper Valley.
One of the themes of the evening was tension, between planning and uncertainty, between looking to the future and living in the moment, between accepting change and continuing life's rituals. There were no actual reading assignments, but the discussion was rich with titles and authors who could find their way to your bookshelf: What Really Matters: Living a Moral Life Amidst Uncertainty and Danger by Arthur Kleinman, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, M.D. (which I previously reviewed here), The Road to Character by David Brooks, and though he might have been too modest to mention them, Slow Medicine and My Mother, Your Mother by moderator Dennis McCullough.
Questions followed as did refreshments and more information in the parish hall. As time was ebbing, one question about physician-assisted suicide was deemed not able to be addressed in this particular forum. If the subject interests you, circle June 1 on your calendar. The Dartmouth Chapter of the Benjamin Rush Institute and the Geisel Ethics Program will be hosting an event at 7 P.M. at Filene Auditorium in Hanover called "Physician Aid in Dying: Should It Be Legal? A Discussion Featuring Three Views."
Last night's forum was co-sponsored or partnered by the DHMC Aging Resource Center, VT/NH Visiting Nurses, Bayada Hospice, Norwich Public Library, Partners for Community Wellness, Dartmouth Health Connect and the Interfaith Council.