iOS app Android app

Wendy Lustbader
GET UPDATES FROM Wendy Lustbader
Wendy Lustbader, M.S.W., has considerable experience working with older people, their families and caregivers. A medical social worker who specialized for almost twenty years in out-patient mental health at the Pike Market Medical Clinic in Seattle, she has also practiced in a home health care agency, hospital geriatric unit and nursing home. She is currently Affiliate Associate Professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work and lectures nationally on subjects related to aging. Wendy’s first book was co-authored with Nancy Hooyman, Taking Care of Aging Family Members. This is a practical guide to caregiving which is still considered the best book of its kind by experts in the field of aging. Her second book, Counting on Kindness, helps readers to comprehend the complex and often unspeakable feelings which arise when we become dependent on others for help. It is often used in the training of social workers, nurses, and physicians, and is regarded as a classic for health care providers. Her third book, What’s Worth Knowing, is a collection of pithy insights gathered from older people that has been used by ministers in sermons and managers wishing to liven up staff meetings. Her latest book, Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older, opposes the stereotype of aging as dimishment.

Entries by Wendy Lustbader

When You're Hot, You're Hot

(0) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 11:40 AM

Having a hot temper is a burden. When anger overtakes volition, it works against us. We release what has been pent up and let the other person have it, consequences be damned. Over time, with repetition, colleagues drift away. Loved ones back off.

In the workplace, people with a...

Read Post

It's About Time

(0) Comments | Posted November 9, 2015 | 11:46 AM

Rushing around is not a good way to live. We know this, yet we keep cramming in tasks and commitments as if we have no choice. It seems like there just aren't enough hours in the day for everything we have to do. The irony is cruel - that such...

Read Post

What Should I Do With My Life?

(2) Comments | Posted August 22, 2015 | 8:59 AM

This question can give us heartache, whether we are in our twenties or sixties. Having no idea what to do next hurts, even as it might excite us on some level. Whether graduating from college or retiring from a long career, the road ahead may appear to be devoid of...

Read Post

Can't Sit Still? You Are Not Alone

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2015 | 11:11 AM

A friend laughed with relief when I told her how noisy my mind is when I step outside intending to sit and listen to birdsong. She thought she was the only one who could barely quiet her mind enough to sit still. I find that the fresh air, earth aromas,...

Read Post

Get Out of Yourself

(0) Comments | Posted February 27, 2015 | 7:22 PM

One of the chief cruelties of depression is how it encloses us in a dark tunnel, a space that doesn't extend beyond the borders of ourselves, our thwarted desires and hopes, stifling loss and bitterness. The light of compassion for others doesn't reach us in there, yet that is precisely...

Read Post

When Is Enough, Enough?

(0) Comments | Posted December 1, 2014 | 2:41 PM

Your 90-year-old mother insists on remaining "independent" in her own apartment. She needs you to take her to the doctor, to arrange for extra help following medical procedures, to fill in when there is any kind of gap in her ability to keep afloat with daily life tasks. Sometimes you...

Read Post

Childhood Lasts a Thousand Years

(0) Comments | Posted September 30, 2014 | 12:40 PM

Childhood lasts a thousand years; the rest of life passes in a blink of time by comparison. Thus, an adaptation made to our particular circumstances long ago may live on in adulthood as cringing around conflict, a habit of self-reliance, barriers against intimacy, set ways of doing things or any...

Read Post

Emotional Affairs: Why These Hurt So Much

(0) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 1:51 PM

A spouse unexpectedly walks into a room where her partner's email-in-progress is lit up on the screen. In a blink, a work email replaces the previous one. Why the abrupt switch? What is being hidden? The Internet is making it possible for many to find long-lost loves, relationships discarded in...

Read Post

What to Do With Boxes of Old Letters?

(1) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 5:37 PM

It is true that email from beloved friends can be printed out and given the heft of paper. I have done this. I then place each email in a file folder labeled with the friend's name. But I prefer my shabby boxes filled with 30 years' worth of letters from...

Read Post

Your Parents Are Afraid of You

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2014 | 8:22 AM

All parents feel vulnerable to their children. Between the longed-for praise -- "You did a great job, Mom" -- and the dreaded guilty verdict -- "You were a lousy mother" -- lies an almost limitless area of doubt and self-recrimination. The more regretful parents feel, the more watchful they are...

Read Post

The Great Pool Of Grief

(7) Comments | Posted October 13, 2013 | 8:53 AM

Inside all of us is a great pool of grief that keeps enlarging as each fresh loss is added to the others. This is why we often find ourselves weeping for earlier losses along with a present heartache. Sometimes even a sad scene in a movie will get me into...

Read Post

To Be Where I Am

(3) Comments | Posted May 6, 2013 | 1:15 PM

I like to be where I am. If I walked around with a cell phone or a web-connected device, I could be taken away from who or what is around me at any moment. Especially if I am walking with a beloved person in the woods near my home, I...

Read Post

Faking the Holiday Spirit

(1) Comments | Posted December 11, 2012 | 3:01 PM

Pretending to be happy is a terrible burden. When we're not feeling cheerful, trying to get into the so-called holiday spirit can be exhausting. Straining to keep up with the banter, laughing at the jokes, attending to people's stories, and maintaining the overall pretense tends to deplete the spirit rather...

Read Post

The 20s: Our Hardest Years

(8) Comments | Posted August 28, 2012 | 3:29 PM

No one beyond their youth wants to be in their twenties again. "I'll take the body, but I wouldn't want the life," a 66-year-old woman assured me. These are the most difficult years of all. We have to figure out who to love, how to love and what we should...

Read Post

Caregiving: The Dance Between Guilt and Resentment

(2) Comments | Posted January 20, 2012 | 8:46 AM

When an older family member needs help, many people struggle to find the time to provide assistance to their relative amidst the many other commitments crowding their lives. Often, it is hard to figure out just how much help is really necessary. Some caregivers try to give too much time...

Read Post

Ten Ways Life Gets Better as We Get Older

(50) Comments | Posted December 28, 2011 | 11:33 AM

1. Our confidence grows. Youth is a time of searching and insecurity, trying to figure out how to live, and as time passes we gather more and more certainty about our own aims and preferences. We become less interested in comparing ourselves to others, having slowly gained an internal compass.

Read Post

You're Not Better Than Me and I'm Not Better Than You

(7) Comments | Posted October 15, 2011 | 1:54 PM

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - Too?

-- Emily Dickinson

As early as kindergarten, we become aware that there are some kids that everyone wants to play with. Select groups congeal around these kids and all the others are shunned. Thus begins a sense...

Read Post

Waking Up to What Really Matters

(14) Comments | Posted August 16, 2011 | 8:32 AM

Two veils separate us from the divine -- health and security.
-Sufi saying

I once asked a particularly warm-hearted oncologist how he could stand to have so many of his patients die, yet remain so open in his relationships. He revealed that every year he goes into remote areas...

Read Post