Keys to a Successful Later Life Transition
Honoring and Valuing the Life Cycle:
- Don’t overvalue or become obsessed with independence. The last half of life should move your focus to interdependence and to accepting that support and help from others is a good thing. Also remember that living in community and being involved in the lives of others can offer tremendous value as you grow older.
- Just because your current home was a good fit for you for many years doesn’t mean it is still the best place for you to be living. Different spaces fit different phases so choose appropriate housing for where you are NOW in life. Plan for either a series of downsizing transitions/moves, or focus on moving to a life care community where all levels of care are available.
- Moving later in life should take you to a simplified setting with less responsibility, more available support and assistance, and opportunities for interaction with others. Why? Because these factors will contribute to your overall functioning and well being as you continue to age, can actually help prolong your independence, and will allow you to focus on successful aging and living each day to the fullest.
- Drop the rocks in your life! Housing that no longer fits, accumulated belongings, and outdated roles and responsibilities can become too heavy in later life and will start bringing you down if you don’t release them and let them go.
- If autonomy and freedom are important to you, moving to a smaller, more appropriate setting for this phase of life can help prolong your independence because you’ll be in a better position to adapt to the changes that lie ahead.
- Moving later in life is NOT just another move. This is a major transition where you cross the threshold into the next phase of your life. Honor and value the importance of this change as you did earlier major passage points like leaving home for college, marriage, and retirement.
Making a Later Life Move:
- Be proactive rather than reactive with this move. The most successful later life moves are those where the older adult feels they have control over the process and the decisions that are made.
- “Too soon” is better than “too late.” The older you are when you move, the harder the transition and the more support you will need to make this change.
- Moving together is easier than moving alone. Clearly not everyone has this option but if you do, use this advantage. Moving while still together as a couple will ease considerably the stress of this transition.
- As long as you are a competent and capable older adult, make decisions based on what feels right for you – NOT on what feels right for your kids. Your adult children may feel that they know what’s best for you but you are the ultimate judge of this.
- Plan ahead and allow as much time as possible for this move. Look at your past experiences – this transition is going to be easier or harder based on how much or how little practice you’ve had along the way. If you’ve been in the same home for 50 years, you are facing a bigger transition than someone who has moved more recently. Even without a lot of practice, you can make this move. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of room and time for making and adjusting to this change.
Attitudes and Beliefs:
- Every ending is a new beginning and you have the opportunity to learn from every phase and season of life and every experience you encounter.
- You have control over your attitude and beliefs no matter how old you are or what happens. “Attitude is everything – so pick a good one!”
- You can become a positive role model for your adult children and your peers. Older adults who proactively make the needed adjustments and changes that befit this phase of life are becoming the new role models for our aging population.
Sue Ronnenkamp is a nationally recognized expert in the area of later life living transitions. After 10 years of refining the “how to” of right-sizing/downsizing, Sue has shifted her focus to WHY continuing to move forward in all areas of our lives is key to vital and successful aging. Her new business is called Age-Full Living with its primary focus on embracing changing with our aging, living later life to the fullest, and reaping the gifts and blessings of growing older. For more information, visit Sue’s website at www.AgeFullLiving.com.