You knew this time was coming, but you didn’t want to admit it. You didn’t want your world to change. You’ve just made one of the biggest decision of your life- leaving your safety net where you feel secure and comfortable and moving into a senior living community that seems so undesirable. The racing thoughts come flooding in trying to scare you into wanting to stay; you fear the unknown. Well I have news for you, you aren’t alone. A majority of seniors making this decision or who have already made this decision are experiencing or have experienced the same emotions you are grabbling with. But what do you do now? We invited some professional advice from Mindy Crouch, a Geriatric counselor with Pando Geriatrics (http://www.pandogeriatrics.com/) who helps us navigate these emotions and understand them while helping alleviate the intensity.
First things first, no matter what age we are, we all are scared of change. It’s a fear of the unknown which can cause us anxiety. We don’t know what’s going to happen, what to expect, and we experience a loss of control. “No one likes change and no one likely has a retirement community in their retirement plans, so anxiety should be expected and is normal. Fear of the unknown happens to everyone,” says Mindy. By understanding that what you are feeling is normal, it may help reduce the anxiety this move has you experiencing.
As we look at change, a loss of a job, a loss of a loved one, a loss of our home, or a physical impairment leaving our mobility limited, we experience a sense of losing control. This may lead to feelings of anxiety. Mindy states “this anxiety we feel is also centered on grief; moving to a retirement community means some loss of independence, control, a house or home, material possessions, and even a pet. These are huge losses in one’s life and they should be grieved for.” By allowing yourself some time to grieve these perceived losses, you will minimize the amount of anxiety that holds you back from moving forward into this new adventure you are embarking on. Go easy on yourself!
You are the only one who knows what is important to you, so it’s important you speak up during this moving process and allow your voice to be heard. “Look at your home and decide what makes it home-a piece of furniture, a color, a smell, pictures, etc. and take these with you. Keep the choices simple, and if you feel you’ve had control in this move then you will better adapt to the changes moving to a retirement home may bring about,” says Mindy.
Along with the decision of what’s meaningful to you, many seniors report many worries around “what will I do with all my stuff” once they have made the decision to move. This can create some anxiety of having to let go of nostalgic memories. To help with this anxiety, it’s important to understand the living space you will be moving in so you can narrow down the options of belongings you can bring or not bring. This will help give you a zoomed focus as you look at the things you would like to keep, give away, donate, and sell.
Even though you are expected to feel some anxiety as you adventure into the unknown, many seniors have reported once they get in and get settled, they are so happy they made this decisions and they wish they would have done this years ago. We suspect this will be you too so keep a positive outlook and take things one step at a time, and you will get through this! Hang in there!