Support Seniors Through Their Transitions
As they age, seniors face several age-related transitions. For those who are still accustomed to an independent lifestyle, asking for increased assistance and support can be a challenge. It’s very important to ease seniors’ transitions during this confusing and emotional time in their lives.
Types of Transitions
Some transitions, such as illness, hearing loss, or medical events, are obvious. However, with a decrease in independence comes several other subtle transitions that are just as, if not more, difficult to manage.
Types of transitions include:
- A loss of privacy as others become more involved in care
- A greater need to ask others for help getting places
- A feeling of inconveniencing others by asking for support
- An inability to participate in hobbies or activities
- Reliance on others to make decisions
- An increased difficulty keeping track of important information and memories
- An increase in anxiety and grief as peers move to care facilities or pass away
- Less control over diet and schedule
- A greater dependence on strangers if professional caregiving is needed
Tips To Help Your Senior Transition
Transitioning can be a confusing and scary time, so you can expect most seniors to experience a variety of feelings as they do so, including grief, depression, and anxiety. As seniors become even more dependent on others, they may even experience feelings of guilt or failure.
Help seniors transition by:
- Extending as much autonomy as is safe and healthy
- Including seniors in conversations regarding their care and preferences
- Easing seniors into the idea of having someone help them — start with smaller tasks for shorter periods of time
- Pointing to an authority figure — such as a doctor or medical professional — when tougher decisions must be made
- Listening patiently to their concerns and ideas
Driving Related Transition Tips
Placing limits on seniors’ driving freedoms can be especially frustrating for them. Use these suggestions to help ease them into this loss of independence and keep them (and other drivers) safe on the road.
- Use CarFit, and educational program that helps seniors make safe driving decisions.
- Make sure seniors remain up-to-date on all medical tests, including eye exams.
- Ask seniors directly about their driving concerns and challenges. Offer them safe alternatives and options to help them maintain their independence.
Conversations regarding aging and transitioning can be very painful for both seniors and their loved ones. If a senior in your life is transitioning, remind them that you only want what’s best for them and that their lives and opinions are still meaningful and important.
Try these strategies to encourage necessary, transition-related conversations with seniors in your life.
- Research the best options so you are prepared to offer true encouragement and realistic options.
- Ask questions with genuine observations (“How’s the house? It must be hard to keep up!”)
- Offer practical help, such as finding a housekeeper, to help ease seniors into the idea of receiving support.
- Don’t exclude seniors from conversations regarding their care or important decisions.