Wanted: Smooth Life Transitions

Strategies for making transitions

Two weeks ago, I lost my beloved grandmother. In my sadness on the long ride back from the funeral in Iowa, I got to thinking about transitions. I first thought of the many geographical transitions she endured going from her home to a hospital, nursing home, back to home, back to hospital, then hospice in just six weeks. My grandpa transitioned with her from bedside to bedside. She endured a physical transition of living self-sufficiently for 81 years then, one day, a doctor told her she couldn’t go home unless she could walk to the bathroom. Emotional transitions came next with everyone trying to decide what would be “best” and eventually having to let go so that her suffering would end. And now, my family and I are transitioning to a life without our grandma, mom, wife and friend, Bonnie Howard.

As with most things in life, good preparation is the key to success. Not all transitions occur so quickly or even tragically. Moving from one’s home to a care facility or senior residence usually involves financial planning, de-cluttering, packing, moving and adjusting. For estate planning, long-term care insurance and Social Security information, Life Management’s NextSteps program is, as their tagline states, “the Resource for Life Transitions.” Their Flying Solo program for divorce transition includes a free Separation and Divorce guidebook with resources on taxation and asset protection. Finding a care facility or senior residence isn’t as easy as hiring a realtor. CareLinkUSA will help you determine the care needs of you or your loved one and provide you with a starting point for your search for services with the Provider QuickSearch tool on their Web site. Assisted Living INFO contains an online guide for selecting an assisted living facility, retirement community, or other personal care facility anywhere in the United States. For assistance locating housing to fit your budget, evaluating and applying for financial programs, assistance with Reverse Mortgages, long-term care insurance and Medicare, call Health Esteem Services.

Once the transition is underway, there’s plenty of help available. I remember stating, in stress, to my husband before our last move, “We need to pack up everything in this house and move it across town!” Now, imagine having to do that while limited physically. Agapë Transition Services, Gentle Transitions and Senior Moves focuses specifically on moving services for seniors and the disabled community. They go beyond the moving truck to help with downsizing, unpacking/settling, preparing a home for sale, estate settling, home repair and upkeep. Agapë also provides home repair and upkeep services before, during and after the move. To decrease the stress involved with daily living activities such as running errands, downsizing/declut-tering and organizing, At Home Solutions will coordinate and manage these tasks.

Finally, don’t forget help for the rest of family. Transitions in life can cause stress, uncertainty and even depression. Even a planned, welcomed move to an Arizona retirement community can bring separation anxiety and resistance to downsizing. When a loved one is hospitalized, it’s a transition for the family, who must visit, help with decisions and maintain their home. When my grandpa had open-heart surgery, I remember telling him not to worry. He said, “I have the easy part, I’ll be asleep!” Eldercare Partners offers caregivers coaching and counseling, geriatric assessments, Twin City caregiver support groups and caregiver education and training seminars. Empowering Caregivers provides support tools to help provide assistance and education to caregivers with a special section on alternative healing. Family Means can help with credit counseling and youth and family development. Alzheimers disease can be especially hard on the family. The Alzheimers Association has Family and Professional Care Consultations for problem solving and identification of resources to persons with memory loss and their family and professional care partners.

In your next life transition, make sure you manage every aspect of change. Beyond the geographical move, there are often physical and emotional aspects to consider. The cliché “You’re never prepared” certainly applies to the death of a loved one, but now you have resources to help from a practical perspective. After 63 years of marriage, my grandpa helped my grandma hang on with dignity “till death do us part.”

Resources:
Agapë Transition Services: 612-849-8811
Alzheimers Association: www.alzmndak.org/gethelpandinfo/
Assisted Living Info: www.assistedlivinginfo.com/
At Home Solutions: www.athomesolutionsllc.com
CareLinkUSA: www.carelinkusa.com
Eldercare Partners: www.eldercarepartners.org
Empowering Caregivers: www.care-givers.com/
Family Means: www.familymeans.org/index.asp
Gentle Transitions: www.gentletransitions.com
Health Esteem Services: www.healthesteemservices.com/
Life Management: www.lifemanagement.com/
Senior Moves: 651-646-5785

Lisa Schmidtke is president and founder of Housecalls Network, a directory of resources to help seniors, people with disabilities and their caregivers live independently. Housecalls Network does not endorse any particular provider. They assume no responsibility for transactions between readers and listed organizations. FFI: lisa@house calls-network.com, 952-221-0722, www.housecalls-network.com

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