To enhance: augment, boost, enrich, add to
After I wrote the EWA posting on enhancers who were the “wind beneath my wings” (8/29/19), it occurred to me that my enhancers were leading very busy lives. Even so, they were able to augment, boost and enrich my life in significant ways. Encounters with enhancers were positive and intriguing. I began to think about the reality that perhaps agers might be in a very good position to become effective enhancers.
We agers have time to think and reflect upon ourselves and others. Time to see and think about qualities and talents in others to which we respond. Seeing and responding to their capacities and potential may augment, boost and enrich their lives.
I thought about what enhancers have given me and how they’ve done it. They:
noticed specific qualities/capacities in me that I hadn’t seen, acknowledged or used; they responded to them in both behavior and words. At times they’ve identified specific capabilities and ideas in ways I hadn’t considered
showed genuine pleasure in my company.
listened, asked questions, posed ideas that conveyed genuine interest and added to those I’d offered.
Now these things I could do, one way or another.
So I began to ponder more widely on how we agers, each with our own attitudes and capacities, might softly enhance others. We wouldn’t need to be perfect, but we could try, starting in little, safe ways.
My lifetime best friend is almost two years older than me. Her ARCs have taken much from her. Still, she manages to enhance care givers and visitors alike. Care givers as well as family reportedly leave her bedside feeling better than when they came. I don’t know how she does it, but it’s an example that it can be done, even with very limited capacities. It’s led me to think about ways to communicate appreciation of and pleasure in qualities in others, other than just telling them. Eye contact, facial expression, body language, touch where appropriate come to mind. But it all starts with an attitude of genuinely caring, noticing and appreciating specifics in another person.
Another outcome enhancers produced in me is incentive. Many times, even in my advanced years, I’ve felt the need to “live up” to qualities or potential others believed in and shared with me. I’ve had two situations in which encounters resulted in visible incentivizing
During an intake appointment with a physician, I was impressed with a specific question he asked while he was washing his hands that changed my patient-doctor relationship with him in a meaningful way. He asked what I wanted from this first meeting. That immediately changed my participation from cooperation to collaboration in this session and subsequently. In my next visit I told him how what he’d said had made such a difference. Apparently he hadn’t been aware of its impact and seemed pleased to learn of it, said he’d use it more purposefully .
Remembering his reaction, I decided to give specific feedback to a physical therapist who had: been welcoming of data from me on specific ARCs that were affecting my participation, and created a remarkably useful form to keep track of expectations and activity steps (despite my short term memory ARCs). After giving him this feedback the same collaborative relationship I had with the physician evolved.
As recipients of others’ care and attention, we agers have multiple opportunities to give feedback to care providers when something fosters engagement (and also when it deters it).
As I have thought about my role as enhancer I have (as usual), been my own lab rat. I notice myself enjoying
becoming more aware of qualities and behaviors in others that resonate with me
desiring to respond to them in ways that reflect my appreciation/respect/engagement
aware of my body language, facial expression, eye contact and touch to communicate in appropriate natural ways.
Whether I am a ‘wind beneath the wings’ of others, I may not know—nor does it matter. It does however seem that it may a way for agers to give as well as receive, even as our capacities become more limited and dependencies grow. And for me to remain green and growing.