Think back to when you went away from home for the first time, or started your first job. Can you remember how you felt in each of those experiences? For most of us, we experienced mixed feelings—likely excitement about something new, nervousness about whether we would like the new experience or fit in with people there, and perhaps a bit of sadness about what we left behind. All are normal feelings associated with changes in our lives.
There is a societal mindset that many people share in that I believe can interfere with making good decisions about where and how to live as we age, both now and in the future. This is the idea that the best place for someone to live as they age is the home they are already in—the home they may have been in for most of their adult lives.
Most adult children want to be supportive of their older parents as they decide what they want as they age. Should they stay in their own home? Should they live with a family member? Should they move to a retirement residence? There is much to consider about this next chapter of life, and the significance of these decisions can contribute to family members having strong opinions about what is best—so much so, adult children may find themselves at odds with each other, or with their parents. Worse, our aging loved one may not feel they are being listened to or respected.
I was recently struck by the story of Shirley, a Chartwell resident living in one of their communities in Whitby, Ontario. Shirley was exploring retirement living because she thought the lifestyle would benefit her; she’d have more people to socialize with, less worry and responsibility, and just an overall increase in her peace of mind. The problem was, at age 82, Shirley didn’t think she should spend her money on a retirement residence; instead, she thought she should continue to save for her future.
Every person I talk with about aging tells me they want to continue to make their own decisions about where and how they want to live as they get older. Yet, when I ask if they have taken steps to ensure they will have the life they want as they age, very few have done much—if any—planning. I believe that planning for our later years is extremely important, as it prevents us from being reactive in the face of changes that can be significant. Simply put, proactivity creates a much greater likelihood that we will get what we want as we age. An effective way to plan for our later years involves a three-part process: Contemplation, engaging thought partners, and communicating our needs and wants to people important to us.
After over thirty years of working with older adults, I have found that as people age, they often have a belief that their lives can’t be as fun, or easy, or fulfilling as they once were. Changes in their health or mobility may reinforce that belief. Yet, frequently it isn’t the health or mobility changes that keep people from living a rich and full life. Instead, it is often a strongly-held idea about where and how they are going to live as they age that keeps them from adapting their living situation to the different seasons of their life. I saw this happen with Ryan and Betsy…
Helping an aging parent may surface various emotions—some that can be enjoyable and rewarding, and others that can be painful or difficult to manage. When I met with one of my clients, Cynthia*, this is exactly what she wanted to talk with me about: how to deal with the myriad of emotions she is experiencing as her mother ages.
Discovering that you and your siblings have very different perspectives about your parents’ situation may be one of the most surprising—and challenging—aspects of providing support or care for them as they age. In my experience, it is quite rare for all family members to see things in the same way, and this can often lead […]
If you ask people what’s important to them as they age, they will almost always mention staying in control of their life and making their own decisions, with independence and choice being dearly held values at any age. Recently, I had the chance to chat with someone who is ensuring that she ages with choice and independence, and I think her story has great lessons for many of us.
Many of us now know that our health and longevity are impacted much more by our lifestyle and behaviours than by our genetics. This may make you worried that you waited too long to make good choices. Good news: there is evidence that it’s never too late to make changes that positively impact our health. John Hopkins Medicine published an article titled, “It’s Never Too Late: Five Healthy Steps at Any Age,” and The Guardian published an article with the headline, “Key to Longer Life May Lie in Keeping Fit From the Age of 70.” It continues: “Former Lifestyle May Not Determine Longevity.”