Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Cleveland

Making Late-in-Life Transitions

Everyone makes transitions over the course of their lifetime. Sometimes they are difficult transitions such as changing jobs or turning in one's bachelor card to settle down with that perfect partner. Sometimes the transitions are easy, like changing diets or deciding to retire. But rarely do they ever carry such uncertainty as the final one that seniors must inevitably face - the transitioning of their independence.

Seniors often take a great amount of pride in continuing to live an independent lifestyle especially after the loss of a spouse. However, with more and more children living out of town and social support groups unable to fund transportation or special events as they have in the past, there is growing opportunity for seniors to become disengaged from the very activities and social support that allow them to manage the independence they cherish.

Previous talk of moving into an assisted living community or receiving home care aid often resulted in seniors feeling they were having their independence stripped away. This is no longer the case as the number of options, service providers and levels of "living with assistance" has grown tremendously with a renewed focus on allowing seniors to retain as much independence as they can safely manage.

The benefits to this style of transition are two fold; family and friends have greater piece of mind when it comes to the safety and health of their loved one and the seniors themselves thrive when the independence they cherish is seen as unencumbered and fluid with the opportunity to change as their own needs change.

It is recommended to look into several different options when the time comes for assistance as the capabilities of service and housing providers continuously change. The industry has seen independent living communities offering many more services and home care packages, while many assisted living communities are now equipped to handle residents with high acuity levels that in years past were only considered appropriate for nursing homes. Several national non-medical home care providers are now training caregivers on dementia and Alzheimer's disease - allowing them to make the home safer for residents with cognitive impairment while providing specialized activities and programs.

As service and housing providers transition their levels of care to meet the growing needs of the senior population, how does one keep up to date with what's available? Take the time to do the necessary research, ask many questions and take copious amounts of notes. While the Internet is a terrific source of information it can be an overwhelming resource and challenging in that it is often easy to unintentionally be misguided or side-tracked. With such an important decision facing you, it is often recommended to deal with local professionals that have current area knowledge.

Some of the best free resources available to you are local elder care referral services and area/county offices on aging. Neighborhood geriatric assessment programs provided through local hospitals and geriatric case management teams specializing in long term care plans and legal advice typically require some type of affiliation, but are also good resources.

Late-in-life transitions should not be associated with the loss of independence rather, they should be viewed as an effective way of managing independence allowing seniors to continue growing and managing their lives safely and happily.

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