“ When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”—John 8:12

Fourth and last of our series of articles  about “LIFE HAPPENS:  Plan Ahead”, will focus on

“When it’s time to make a CHANGE, how to do it!”

Life does not come with a book of instructions!  Change is inevitable, but can be much more emotionally smooth, if we plan ahead and look for guidelines to empower us.  Since our local faith communities are primarily senior, or with senior parents, we will look at SENIOR CHANGES.  These changes may come in the form of family changes (loss or estrangement of a child or close relative, need to care for grandchildren, distance separating families), divorce, death, illness, injury, financial disappointments or choices creating crisis, change in ability to care of self or home, change in vision or hearing, spiritual disappointment or theology change, or emotional and mental health changes that create loss of focus or plans.   Any of the above create a need to realign our thoughts, dreams, goals, and plans.  HOW WILL WE DO THAT???

Two resources recently crossing my desk are the following:  Foxy Old Woman’s Guide to Living with Friends”(could include men, too!) by Cynthia Cary; and “the Boomer Burden, dealing with parents (or own) Lifetime accumulation of Stuff”  by Julie Hall.   Either may be found in the library or Amazon. 

Both address thoughts on the following:

  • When change happens:  Where will I live? Have you thought that one out?   Some options are living alone & loving it, living with extended family with shared expenses, retirement living settings (remember they are no longer called “A Home”), or group home settings.  Do you want to live with children or have them live with you? What about smaller homes or RV’s.  How about sharing a home with several friends with similar needs.   Look at your finances, health status, emotional needs, and happiness. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO AN OPINION AND SAY IN THE PLAN!!  Planning & thinking ahead prevents chaos.
  • How do I know the time is right for change?  Awareness of the aging process begins the thinking process.  Is there a decline in mobility, vision problems, loss of interest in favorite pastimes, irritability, hearing loss, confusion, repetition, short term memory loss, fatigue, unopened mail, unusual spending, fear of financial change, discomfort or fear where you are living, depression or anxiety, or falls?   The next step is to look at living situations, consider options (have lunch at living settings & assess), seek help evaluating finances, speak with Doctors about health changes, open the conversation with family or friends, and  keep a journal or notebook of questions, changes, concerns, and ideas for your future. 
  • Important factors to consider may be the following:  Who are my allies & resources? What are my contemporaries doing?  How can I begin making plans so MY wishes are met?   Am I  aware of scams and those looking to deplete my funds.?  Do I  have an updated Will and Life Plan Documents?  Begin sorting, marking, & giving away items of importance.  Be good to yourself and consider, talk about, and write your wishes.  Begin planning BEFORE the above changes become difficulties.  Look at the resources in your community (you may need to change communities to receive the benefits you need).  Consider your vision of the next 5,10,20 years and begin planning for each stage.  Look at family history and longevity as you make financial and life plan goals. 

Prayer, Planning, Patience, Positive Attitude, and Protecting your dream and assets will make change manageable.


Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant

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