Erica Michalowski, AARP Connecticut community outreach director, said she was "astounded by the leadership I saw" among the women who participated in the training session. "There were women who, the minute they got the training, knew exactly how they wanted to reach other women."
For instance, Joanne Davis, 58, a registered nurse who works with the Parish Nurse Ministry at Saint Paul Church in Glastonbury, led a session with women of the parish within three months of going through the training.
"We're providing the information to women to motivate and inspire them to think seriously about their future; talk with their families; make important, thoughtful and difficult decisions; and act on them."
Decisions are less scary
Janice Bird, 67, of Glastonbury, attended Davis' session and said it gave her "lots to think about."
She realized she needed to prepare a living will "recording my wishes as to the level of comfort with medication and when to pull the plug," she said. "I feel much more informed and secure about this whole matter of living longer."
Helen Benjamin, 75, of Stratford, also a volunteer facilitator, said the program takes the fear out of making decisions by providing information women need.
"We are telling them they can create the future that they want, that they can take control and make decisions. Our message is that it's very important to plan ahead."
AARP provides free checklists and resource materials that can be downloaded at aarp.org/decide. Each of the four sessions can be presented in about an hour, or several can be grouped into a half-day event.
To arrange for a "Decide. Create. Share." presentation, call toll-free 1-866-295-7279 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sandi Shelton is a writer living in Guilford, Conn.