I’ve been a blogger since 2001, when I heard about this new-ish blog thing and went to investigate. It was true, most of the stuff I found on LiveJournal was not very interesting. Then I found Scripting News, written by Dave Winer, the guy who’d invented the blog, and found cool stuff, though some of it was over my head, as I’m not a programmer.
This inspired me to take my previously emailed newsletter – the original DesertLight Journal – and put it on a blog, relieving me of the absolute necessity of having all my stories ready at the same time.
Oddly enough, blogs were what I’d expected when I first went online in 1995, but back then I barely knew how to run Win95 and my email, so there wasn’t much I could do but wait. Meanwhile, I learned a lot about the internet and what I could do with it. Once I had blogs to work with, I went a little wacky publishing stuff everywhere and anywhere. I had at one time around 2003, no fewer than eleven blogs on five or six different platforms: Blog City, TypePad, Blogger, and a few that have since gone by the wayside. I had thousands of people reading my stuff all the time.
I think it was about 2009 I quit blogging and pretty much spent my time in other things.
Facebook and Twitter have, in the interim, become the only places to be online. I’ve gone from thousands of readers to about 1200 friends on Facebook and maybe 400 followers on Twitter, though I admit I’ve been less than attentive to both over the years. It’s not like it used to be, when I’d spend a good chunk of every day online, writing and promoting. Even though I have X number of friends and followers, I have no idea who, if anybody, is reading the things I post from time to time.
Lately it’s harder than ever to get people to read your stuff on Facebook, as some algorithm somewhere is deciding for them what people want to read. Now I see Twitter started turning its service into some kind of a political organ, complete with censorship, and as I really don’t want to get involved in politics again, I’m thinking a blog away from the vagaries of the big silos are a better place for me and what I want to accomplish. Also, Scoble is going back to blogs, and Dave Winer never left, so why can’t I?
So what do I want to accomplish?
Last year at this time I was still incapacitated due to a broken ankle. There were two breaks, and I was laid up for four months. This was plenty of time to think about stuff in general. I’ve been a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging here in Arizona since 2011, and until last December, was also a member of the Regional Council on Aging for Western Arizona. One thing I’ve learned from these associations is that families are broken, separated, and living far away from each other. This is not a very good thing for anybody, as the elders either do need or will need some help; their grandchildren, if any, could benefit from a relationship with grandparents, and the adult children in the middle have no one to turn to when things go awry and they only need one more person to help them manage. Married couples are more often than not, both working, and the fragile structure of schedules can be a serious problem when there is any kind of illness, accident, or life just doesn’t go the way things were planned.
I’ve done a lot of research into how things got this way, and I know from my own experience this state of being is not irrevocable. Yes, families have lived far apart and voluntarily moved away from each other for 50 years or more, but it is not “just the way things are.” I think most everybody is aware of what is being called the “tsunami” of the Baby Boomers aging, and every state government as well as the Federal government are concerned about what to about caring for elders who can’t make it on their own.
So one thing I want to do is propose some solutions. I know this would not be right for everyone, but in my case, my husband and I are planning a move to be near the family. Really near! With our son and daughter-in-law, we’re looking for a property near Phoenix where we can put two houses. This way, we can be there to help out when the kids get the flu or the furnace breaks. (Well, in AZ it’s more likely to be air conditioning, but you know what I mean.)
Not many people realize how difficult and costly it can be to manage care for an elder hundreds or even thousands of miles away. It’s hard enough when that elder Mom or Dad is in the same community! I’ve found that sometimes even the elders themselves aren’t thinking it through, when they decide they’re going to sell everything and see the world in their RVs, or uproot and move someplace where the weather is better. Many find themselves disabled and alone, after losing contact with family for no apparent reason other than simple neglect. Some people can avoid that, and I hope to help those people find their way back to having a family again, in the way available to them.
Of course some people have carefully planned their retirement to include their families. I’ve noticed among my former classmates from my Detroit-area high school an amazing level of devotion to grandchildren that may have been lacking in our own grandparents. So I’m going to take some clues from my peers.
There are also a good number of volunteer organizations, here in Arizona and elsewhere, that help their local elders who may only need a bit of assistance, to stay in their homes. Not everybody has family or close friends nearby when age and disability assert themselves, and these groups provide a surprising number of “helping hands.”
It’s a lot of information, and as one person with a bit of knowledge I know my efforts would be small, but a blog will help spread the word. I’m taking advantage of what I can to get the word out!