Is A Move Right For You?
In our eagerness to secure our financial wellbeing we may have planned for the dream and were met with reality. Sometimes that reality included things we hadn’t counted on. Death of a spouse, loss of friends, physical limitations, busy families, high medical bills, financial reversals and fear of starting something new can cause us to feel vulnerable at any age. Starting over and taking risks, once we’ve reached a certain age, comes with a certain inherent risk that, if we make choices we regret, we may not be able to move on from it. So we stay stuck- not comfortable where we are but fearful of making a mistake. What would our family think if they knew we made a bad choice? Why am I not able to manage things on my own? What will become of me if I give up my life as it is? Just like growing up, choosing a spouse, raising a family, making a career choice and a life time of other major investments in the future, reaching out for help requires a certain amount of risk tolerance. The best way to reduce that risk and become willing to make choices is to understand what we consider quality of life. The first step is asking yourself a few questions about your lifestyle:
- What is my physical quality of life– How our body ages is a major factor in how well we stay connected to the rest of the world. Are you able to get out to social functions like lunches and card games? Can you easily run to the store if you need something? How easy is it to travel? Are you sleeping well at night? Is your vision or hearing affecting your activity or conversations? Are housekeeping and cooking difficult? Do you experience pain or low energy throughout the day? Does being at home sometimes feel like the best alternative to the prospect of social expectations?
- What is my emotional quality of life?– Does being home alone create anxiety during the day or at night? Are you afraid of not having help in an emergency? Is your interest in news, books, learning and conversation waning? Do you forget things? Are you ready and waiting for someone to pick you up more than 30 minutes before they are schedule to be there? Do you feel like your happiness is out of your control? How often do you speak with someone besides family during the day (the people at the food store, bank and doctor’s office don’t count!) Has your appearance suffered from lack of attention?
- Who is in my Peer Group?- Are you actively planning social events at least once each week? Do you talk with people your own age about your own interests? Do you feel like those around you understand your views? Are you worried about keeping up? Have you asked anyone for help or offered someone help in the past month? If not, why?
- Do I Exercise– How often do you get out in the daylight? What do you do for exercise? Do you have pain, trouble sleeping, or depression? Has a doctor suggested an exercise routine? Are you following that routine at least 4 days/week? Has your posture worsened in the past year? Do you become winded easily? Do you have trouble with balance or reaching above your head? Do you bruise easily?
- Do I have chronic illness that impacts my activity or memory? What medication side effects am I experiencing? Have I talked with a family member and doctor about it? What can I do to improve my condition? Am I willing to do it? Have I forgotten appointments or medications? Do I forget parts of recent conversations? Does activity increase my symptoms or lessen them? Is my condition progressive? How are my needs accommodated?
- Who are my “Go to” people? Who would I call in an emergency? Is their contact information available for myself or emergency personnel? Who do I call for help with non-emergencies? When did I last ask for help? When did I last wish I had help but didn’t ask? Is my family concerned about my wellbeing or safety? How did they last express that? How did I respond? Do I feel like they’ll support me? Do I feel like I’m imposing? How often each week does someone else tend to my needs? How does it affect them? What things do I need or want that I’m not getting?
Taking stock or our lifestyle and our needs is the basis for laying out a plan for successful aging. Whether that means living in your current home, moving to an independent living community of peers or moving to a community with routine assistance available varies for everyone. If you find that you’re missing out on opportunities for emotional, spiritual or physical health in the name of “staying at home,” it’s time to sit down and look at what options are available to meet your needs. There’s not a single person on earth who does not rely on interaction with someone else to live. The myth that when we age, needing someone is a failing needs to be dismissed. Needing and wanting community, a sense of purpose and social interaction is all part of being human. It’s who we are at any age.
A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.