One of my favorite words is “pursue.” I have always chased my dreams until I caught them. I define myself as an explorer; a woman who gets great joy living outside the box. So, when I was asked to run a focus group for women over 50 with only a 48 hour notice I jumped at the chance. I knew nothing about running a focus group, darlings, but I decided, “Why not learn?” The small group has grown to 10 as we enter our third season. Our purpose: to discuss important issues confronting women over 50.
If I had not taken a stab at starting my focus group, my friends and I would not have the monthly opportunity to discuss our feelings, our inner thoughts and the opportunity to learn from one another.
Each passage of our lives has learning curves. Some of these passages are deliriously happy and unfortunately some are filled with fear, dread, and sadness. The trying times are made worse when we are naive and uniformed. It is up to us as women over 50 not to neglect ourselves and our needs. A focus group of women friends who openly discuss life’s issues after 50 opens doors to thought provoking topics that we think about but do not discuss because we are afraid. I believe focus groups are blessings in disguise, darlings.
If any of you are interested in, how to form a focus group for women over 50 please email me at email@example.com with subject line “Focus Group Help.” With my personal experience I can help you get started on a new and worthwhile journey with friends.
To give you an idea of our topics this month’s focus group discussion was “Your spouse or partner dies before you… now what?”
I decided on this topic because we are all women over the age of 50. And, of course, the dynamics of my group. Some are married women, some widowed, some living with partners and one has a partner, but lives alone. What a discussion we had. There was not a moment of silence and every woman left with one or more questions to ask a husband, partner, attorney, accountant or banker.
How the conversation went
The widows found they had serious legal problems after the death of their spouse. They shared their experience with the married women. Each widow was also able to offer advice for the other widow’s problems. Those living with partners had totally different financial living situations which were fascinating. Those married discussed how much they knew about their husband’s wills. It was unanimous their husbands shared their personal finances with them but how much did each wife question or understand of the legal ramifications of taking over joint assets?
These are some of the questions we discussed around my dining room table:
- Is it better to have a close friend, a child, a bank or an attorney as a trustee?What were the pros and cons?
- Did the husbands give their wives power of attorney, in case, of medical problems?
- How many of the wives knew she had to establish her own credit?
- Did a husband’s wealth have anything to do with his wife’s credit?
- Is it law you have to have a joint checking account?
- Should you insure your jewelry?
- Are the cars in both names?
- Does your husband have military rights? Do you have his discharge papers? Did you know the military will pay for part of the funeral?
- Do you know the combination of the safe?
Two hours flew by. Women love to share. Women love to talk. Women care. Women want to learn.
I have a wealth of knowledge stored in my head on what makes for a successful focus group. The important pros and the important cons to avoid. How to choose the women. How to keep order. How to write the outline. What is the best time of day to meet? Is there a code each woman must abide by? And on and on. Your goal is to have the women leave…thinking. I know women leave my focus group thinking. As they said their good byes one said “I have three questions to ask my husband” and another one held up a paper with her hand written notes.
I personally feel gratified. I have added a new dimension to 10 women’s lives. They have added a dimension to mine. I am smiling.
If any of you are interested in starting a group in the Palm Springs area while I am here over the winter and spring, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next month’s topic for my group: Aging after 50.