August has been designated as ‘What will be your legacy?’ month, and it’s worthwhile to take a few minutes to consider this. In Water Valley and elsewhere, seniors should take some time to think about how they will be remembered by loved ones and those whom they have touched in their lives. It’s never too late to turn things around and leave a lasting memory of yourself that will be honored and cherished. That’s why senior home care professionals are glad to work with you to examine what is most important to you and work with you to leave a lasting memory that fits your life and personality. Here are some things you can do to ensure you leave behind a rich legacy of warm memories.
How most people want to be remembered
A recent report jointly prepared by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave showed that most people preferred to be remembered for the quality time they spent with loved ones. An impressive 69% of survey participants identified this as their number one hope for their legacy, and these statistics held true regardless of age, economic status, or ethnic background. In terms of what they passed on to heirs, the four big things were:
- personal possessions holding either sentimental value or real-world value
- real estate and financial assets
- directions for late-life care, and distribution of worldly assets
- life lessons and values learned over a period of years
When survey participants were pressed to name which of the above was most important, nearly 60% identified life lessons and values. Surprisingly, not even 20% of the individuals participating in the survey had prepared a will or considered designating a power of attorney. From this, it can be seen that the vast majority of senior citizens do not contemplate end-of-life arrangements until actually confronted with their mortality.
Give some serious thought to your legacy
Your first step should be to sit down and think about the difference between who you want to be and who you actually are today. This will require some brutal self-honesty, but it’s the only way to derive meaning from the exercise. If you fall far short of being the person you aspire to be, you have some work to do in order to improve the way you’ll be remembered. If you’ve been in the habit of simply reacting to events around you, and not intentionally pursuing specific goals, you probably are leading a somewhat aimless life. If you don’t have goals in mind, there is no hope of achieving them. The purpose of this exercise is to get you to be more mindful about the choices you make, the things you do, and the way you interact with people and events occurring in your life.
Develop a plan
Closing the gap between who you are and who you want to be will not happen by itself – you must create a plan that will lessen that gap and eventually make the two situations one. Your plan should include living a life that makes you happy, but also one that really makes a difference in the world, and that you can look at with pride. The famous educator, Jessie Potter, once said “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” In other words, to achieve different results than you’ve had in the past, you have to change your attitude and your approach. There are many positive ways you could possibly be remembered, including the following:
- loving and dedicated spouse
- selfless and beloved leader
- positive role model
- thoughtful, caring neighbor
- happy, fulfilled individual
- dedicated, loving parent
- trusted, reliable friend
- proud citizen of the country
- valuable, preferred worker
- caring, devoted family member
You would have to be someone quite special to be able to tick off all these possibilities, but it’s not necessary that you achieve them all. Just focus on the one which most appeals to you, and which is achievable. That will be your goal. Then you can start tailoring your actions so as to achieve that kind of legacy.
Is the world a better place because of you?
You don’t have to make a contribution that will change the world in order to leave behind something really meaningful. All you have to do is strive to be someone who made a positive difference in the lives you touched while you lived. Maybe that means being a kinder, gentler person who genuinely cares for family and friends. Maybe it means being a faithful, devoted spouse right up to the end. And maybe it just means being the kind of person you always wanted to be.