Martha Stewart Takes on Health Care
The domestic doyenne dishes about the opening of her visionary medical center for seniors, her own health challenges, and the lessons learned while coping with the loss of her mom.
Senior Care in America continued...
"Being healthy is all about being prepared," agrees Ridge. "Our
health care system is not prepared, and the vast majority of individuals are
not prepared. Having someone with Martha's clout and her ability to speak will
raise awareness of this issue. Just like they look to Martha for planning other
aspects of their lives, we think they'll look to her for this aspect as
Steel, for one, hopes Stewart can bring these issues to the forefront --
because he sees a tidal wave coming. By 2050, according to the U.S. Census
Bureau, nearly 87 million people in the United States will be older than 65 --
more than 20% of the projected population. "I can tell you that American
geriatric medicine has gargantuan problems," Steel says. "There's too
much expensive hospital care, and there needs to be more care at home. But
unless we have places like Stewart's center that can make good outpatient care
for seniors possible -- and good geriatricians to provide it -- there will be a
serious crisis in geriatric care."
Big Martha, RIP
She may have had her own struggles with the health care system, but Martha
Kostyra, in many ways, was just about the perfect example of living well into
your later years -- still active and energetic as she approached her 93rd
birthday. She seemed indomitable, so her death was likely a shock to her
daughter, says Pamela Sollenberger, MS, a certified grief counselor who serves on the advisory board for
the American Academy of Grief Counseling.
"When someone has been very ill for a long time, we're a lot further
along in our grieving when that person dies," she says. "But if it's a
relatively sudden loss, we have no time to prepare.'
The loss of a parent is particularly devastating. "It doesn't matter
what age you are, you end up becoming that orphan," says Sollenberger.
"We look to our parents as the protector, the guide, the nurturer, the
unconditional love source."
And just because Stewart isn't wearing her grief on her crisply ironed
sleeve doesn't mean she isn't struggling in private. "Your grief is unique
only to you. Yours is different than mine, Martha Stewart's is different than
ours," Sollenberger says. "We may go through the same stages of grief,
but we do it differently. The process takes a lot of time, and nobody can tell
you when it's time to move on."
One way of grappling with loss is to channel energies into something that
honors that person and creates a legacy for them. For Stewart, this could mean
deepening her involvement with the Martha Stewart Center for Living, which
mattered so much to her mother. Others, says Sollenberger, might work with
underprivileged children, fund a scholarship, or contribute their efforts to
some other cause that was important to the person they lost. Some people engage
in what Sollenberger calls "instrumental grieving," which could be
anything from chopping wood to hoeing the garden to kickboxing. "Sometimes
it's easier to exercise your grief than to talk about it," she says.