When you hear the word change, how does it make you feel? Excited, nervous, apprehensive, or resistant? When we are younger, we may look forward to changes and think of change as a new exciting adventure! Many seniors however are very resistant to change, because as we age change becomes more difficult, we all become creatures of habit and routine. We all find comfort in familiarity and us all desire to remain independent. Even if situations aren’t ideal, we would rather continue status quo than make a change that could be for the better.
Everyone want things to stay the same especially when things are going well. We were created with eternity in our hearts and minds with a desire to live forever under the right circumstances – Ecclesiastes 3:11. So, it can be very hard to accept that we grow old, get sick and eventually die. This is inevitable for us all. If we live long enough, we will need to have some type of support such as making a change in our living situation needing to move into an assisted living, memory care, adult family home or having in home care. So, when we are faced with change due to aging and or poor health what can we do to cope?
The first thing is to consider our attitude. If we develop the attitude or outlook that there are things in life that we can’t change and learn to accept that fact we can become more positive in our viewpoints. By understanding our limitations or by letting go of trying to control things that are out of our control we can face things with a cheerful attitude of acceptance. Then we can take that energy and find ways to cope with the situation at hand which actually gives us back a measure of control! This can be difficult for many to do, so I find that prayer or meditation can be very useful tool to help us with acceptance - Philippians 4:6,7. “God wants us to throw all our anxieties upon him because he cares about us” – 1 Peter 5:7.
Ways to Cope
There are several ways we can try to cope with our situation at hand. One way is to reach out to a professional who has experience in dealing with what you are facing, perhaps a Doctor or Social Worker. They may have helpful suggestions to consider and will look at it from a balance perspective. Our family and friends can give us much needed support, with a hearing ear and comfort that we are not facing this alone. Next is to take it one day at a time. Break it down into manageable steps that you can accomplish- Mathew 6:34. And finally remember to ask for help! Remove all stubbornness and pride by allow others to help you which can give others the gift of joy when you allow them to help. “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving” Acts 20:35
We find many seniors are resistant to getting the help they may need because they are overwhelmed with the possessions they own, they don’t know where to start, what to do with it all or they don’t want to part from their belongings. The best way to begin is by making a list of what is a necessity such as clothing, toiletries, bedding and then your most prized belongings such as pictures, photo albums, a family antique dresser or heirloom that you want to take with you. Then let your family/friends come in and choose items they may wish to have. Don’t be upset if there is very little that they want, as most people have more than enough items in their homes already, don’t have room for more and they don’t share the sentimental attachment that you have to these items. These days most furniture even antiques are very hard to sell and don’t have the value that you may think.
A good idea is donating items to a local charity and take the tax write off or give items to a grandchild just starting out in a new home. Remember that by getting rid of excessive items it’s a gift to your children, because what you don’t get rid of, one day they will have to. Don’t forget these are only “things” and what’s most important in life is our families, friends and relationships that we take with us wherever we are.
Give yourself a least a month or two to adapt to any changes in this new phase of life. As we have discussed change is hard! It takes time to become accustomed to a new environment, new people and a new routine. You may mourn the losses you have faced and feel overcome by sadness due to loss of some independence, this is normal. But don’t dwell on your losses or limitations, that can zap your energy and make you sick. Look for the things that you can still do and find purpose in your life every day. Everyone no matter their circumstance is able to contribute and help others.
Can you be a source of encouragement to someone that is down and having a hard time? Can you reach out to friends and family now that you have more time and be a hearing ear for them as they struggle with the demand’s life throws at us all?
Younger ones find much encouragement by listening to the stories you share of your life’s experiences and obstacles you have overcome. Look for opportunities to continue learning by reading, listening to a podcast online, singing a new song or trying a new game or craft! There may be times that you want to be alone, but don’t isolate yourself and become withdrawn. Push everyday to interact with someone and see how you can brighten their day and you will receive much more in return!
“Practice giving and people will give to you” Luke 6:38
Be thankful for the life you still have and what you can still accomplish. “A live dog is better than a dead lion” Ecclesiastes 9:4. With the right attitude, willingness to adapt and by allowing others to help, it is possible to face changes successfully and be happy!