INSPIRED BY LOVE.
Hi. I’m Diane…
Eldercare Expert with 35 years in the trenches. I’m the Host of the weekly radio show and syndicated podcast Parents Are Hard To Raise, which I created to help families like yours grow older together without losing their minds.
I love the beach, strong coffee, the color red and a good book. I’m a sucker for those peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets, chocolate covered cherries, ice cream sundaes with peanut butter and chocolate sauce, and shoes. I love me some shoes.
Most importantly, I’m the proud daughter of two wonderful and very colorful aging parents, Annette and Joe—whom I joke about a lot.
Everyone has a story to tell…
The reason I tell mine?
I don’t think you have to be a lost, overwhelmed, frustrated, angry-at-the-world kind of person, to feel like one sometimes.
I’m a born and raised Jersey Girl, who grew up in the stereotypical Italian family. With two siblings, grandparents living downstairs, sixteen aunts and uncles, and 53 cousins all living within minutes of our home—I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a crowd around our house, coffee in the pot, cake on the table and something delicious cooking on the stove.
One of the things I’m often asked is… “How on earth did you get involved in gerontology and eldercare?”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been insatiably curious about human nature. Even as a child I loved watching people.
As a gerontologist, I’ve invested my entire career trying to figure out exactly what qualities are necessary for a person to be genuinely happy, successful and fulfilled, and how those qualities change as we age.
The funny thing is… I believe I’ve learned more about life simply by listening to my clients than I ever could have imagined…
I’ve learned how important it is to enjoy every minute of your life.
I’ve learned that happiness is a choice– we can choose to be happy now, and not wait for something outside of ourselves to make us happy in the future.
I’ve learned to be grateful for what I do have, and not regretful for what I don’t.
And… I’ve learned how really precious time is.
Whether it’s at work or with family, every minute should be enjoyed and savored as if it were our last.
I really love hanging out with older people. They have so much to teach us.
I can’t imagine a better way to spend a career.
It seems as if I’ve always had a deep love for older people. I guess I got that from hanging out with my grandparents as a kid. They were amazing.
Whenever I was feeling lonely or sad, I ran downstairs and visited my grandparents. No matter how busy they were, they always had time for me.
I learned about life from watching them grow older together. Their living examples taught me a lot of valuable life lessons, but the greatest one, I believe is this: love is not a feeling; it’s an action.
As she grew older, my grandmother struggled with the crippling effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis. The disease hobbled her body, but never her spirit. My grandfather was there for her through it all. With him patiently by her side, she was able to do everything she used to do. Sure. Sometimes it took a little longer, but with some Italian ingenuity they managed to figure things out just fine.
There was no doubt that Grandpa deeply loved Grandma and she him. It was obvious in every loving glance, every knowing smile and every simple deed they did for one another. And when Grandma passed, even a casual bystander could see the ineffable hole it left in Grandpa’s heart.
Time passed by unnoticed.
I returned home from University, and landed my “dream” job with a major corporation headquartered right near our home.
Not long after starting my new career, my grandfather developed congestive heart failure. At the same time, his Glaucoma worsened and he began going blind.
Up until that time, Grandpa was a very active man. He was forever busying himself– well into his mid 80’s– working in his garden, cutting an acre of grass with his old manual push mower, and climbing to the very top rung of his makeshift ladder to prune his beloved fruit trees (much to the constant protests of the entire family). He’d humor us by pretending he’d quit climbing that rickety old ladder of his, but as soon as we were gone for the day, we all knew he’d be back up in his trees again.
As time passed, Grandpa’s eyesight got worse and worse. It wasn’t long before he was almost totally blind. Although Grandpa’s doctors encouraged him to remain active, because of his blindness, it became almost impossible for him to do anything, other than sit in his chair and listen to the Italian television all day.
The forced inactivity was hard on him—and on us. It was hard to see this once vibrant man lose his independence and sense of purpose. But what could we do?
We all had jobs that required us to be gone most of the day. Sure, we would take turns running home to make my grandfather comfortable and prepare him lunch, but that did very little to cure his loneliness or restore his sense of purpose.
Back then, there weren’t the same options for our family as there are today—no adult daycare or senior activity centers, and homecare was only available to those who were bed-bound. So, all we could do was all we could do.
The inactivity and I’m sure his dwindling will to live finally caught up with him. His congestive heart failure got progressively worse and he died.
That seems a lifetime ago, but in the quiet of my mind, I still remember the feelings of helplessness, guilt and frustration I felt as I watched my beloved Grandpa slip away from us.
The world breaks everyone…
and afterward many are stronger in the broken places.
One cold November night, not long after Grandpa passed away, I found myself lying awake— staring into the thick darkness until dawn; as if searching the emptiness for an answer to a question, which I had never dared to ask…
What should I really be doing with my life?
The answer came, not in a brilliant flash of insight, but in the quiet memory of my grandfather’s smile.
As crazy as it seemed at that moment, I knew exactly what I must do.
The next day I quit my dream job and began working with the elderly and their families. And for the past 35 years, I’ve done nothing but.
Life, they say, comes full circle. What I learned sitting on my grandfather’s knee, about the meaning of life and the act of love has only proved truer over time: only by helping others overcome their own struggles can we truly know what’s inside of us.
I’ve lost track of the exact number of families I’ve worked with over the years—but that number has to be somewhere in the tens of thousands. And the fact is, I believe I’ve gotten more from them than I ever could have given them in return.
Today, through my website, my weekly radio program and working one-on-one with my client families across the nation, I help good people like you, who might be feeling a bit lost, overwhelmed, frustrated and angry-at-the-world, take on the most meaningful role of their lives, and find themselves in the process.
So… How on earth did I get involved in gerontology and eldercare?
Well, I guess you might say I was inspired by love…
And it all started that cold and sleepless November night.
I cannot thank that night enough.
Because, it brought us together at this moment in time. And I’ve been preparing my entire career for a time just like this. So, please tell me what you’re struggling with and I’ll do my best to help.
The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger in the broken places.
And, that’s where our story really begins.
P.S. Don’t forget to download my weekly podcast and subscribe to my weekly advice column. I’ll teach you everything I’ve discovered over the years—including how to enjoy aging together without having to give up your sanity, your independence or your sense of humor.