A Few Lessons Learned
I hope that you and yours enjoyed a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah or both! Some of you are still enjoying the warmth of the Holidays with extended family and I wish you happy times and safe travels. I also wish you a little quiet time in there to “just be”. Not accomplishing, not overextending, “just being” can re-charge the batteries and allow the “doers” among us to approach the New Year rested and with renewed optimism.
Personally, I have been working seven days a week leading up to the Holidays and I too am enjoying a couple of days to unwind and reflect on the year that was and some lessons learned.
I had a good 2014 and for that I am very grateful. I had the opportunity to assist many more older adults and their families make successful transitions and I got to know many more wise and caring people along the way. I also got to witness the kind of resilience that only seems to come with age and experience. I am very, very fortunate.
Some of these folks were leaving houses that they had lived in for thirty, forty or fifty years. Others had already downsized from their house to a condo, perhaps a decade or so ago and now were ready to enjoy the benefits of a retirement residence.
While I would love to report that none of my clients ever experienced an anxious moment, this really wasn’t the case. Change is seldom easy and is not always enthusiastically embraced. Feelings of anxiety about what may lie ahead are often magnified by advancing years. What seemed manageable a decade ago now seemed utterly overwhelming for many of these older adults. Most were also understandably concerned about whether they would actually enjoy their new home or if they were making their transition at exactly the right time.
One of my roles as their guide through the process is to actively listen to these concerns, provide reassurances along with helpful information, and to share liberal doses of encouragement as needed. Having sensitive and knowledgeable expertise as well as access to trusted, reputable resources and service providers enhanced the cautious optimism in my clients and that helped the vast majority of them to manage the process with flair.
Another thing that I was reminded of this year is that family members almost always mean well - at least the family members of my clients do. However, they don’t always share the values of their older parents, or indeed with each other. Tensions can simmer and erupt and otherwise capable and intelligent people can be reduced to behaviour more often associated with frustrated children than successful professionals. Objectivity rarely gets a starring role in these dramas and Mom and/or Dad’s wants and needs can sometimes be drowned out by he or she who speaks the loudest. It is true that having a strong background in mental health support, crisis intervention and dispute resolution helped considerably. I am grateful for past lessons learned.
Another thing that I discovered on more than a few occasions is that many people, regardless of their age, don’t seem to possess an accurate sense of space. I sometimes share that: “Just because something can fit, doesn’t mean that it should.” Each situation is different but I have found that a sense of scale is every bit as important (if not more so) than decisions made only with a measuring tape.
Another of the lessons that I wanted to share with you addresses the rapidly changing environment of furnishings and décor items. The world of donations, consignment stores, auctions and junk removal is evolving by the day and, unless you have navigated these processes recently, you may be in for some time consuming and expensive experiences. A savvy Senior Move Manager can help you and your family to navigate this world in the most cost effective way possible.
And finally I come to what is perhaps the most important lesson learned. People do not get to be in their eighties or nineties without having experienced some ups and downs along the way. Like most things in life, there are plusses and minuses to every situation and to every change. When older adults move, some things are better than they were before and some things are undoubtedly missed. All in all though, my personal experience has been that my older clients are made of very good stuff and, once all is said and done, they are happy that they moved. They also tell me that they couldn’t have done it without me. Good to know!
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