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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Bell

Protecting Your Autonomy

Protecting Your Autonomy

When I launched Moving Seniors with a Smile Inc. in 2012 I recognized intuitively that older adults needed to knowthat they had autonomy. Granted, this looks a little different when you are 70 than it does when you are 80 and may change some more when you celebrate 90 but the need to maintain control over one’s life is intrinsic to all of us.

We want to feel that we are in #control of our own lives.  Feeling powerless to address the myriad changes that occur in our bodies as we age can be disconcerting to say the least.  Coping with the multiple losses that occur when we #retire, lose loved ones and ultimately feel less powerful, well let’s face it – it can be downright demoralizing.

People admittedly react differently to these changes and losses.  Some quietly accept the changes and defer to younger family members.  Sons and daughters (and sons and daughters by marriage) may feel quite certain about what Mom or Dad should be doing.  Of course this gets more challenging when #family members don’t agree and everyone brings a different opinion to the table.

Some older adults seek comfort by controlling what they see as still being controllable and their worlds tend to become smaller and ever more structured. They cling to familiar routines like a life raft and the mere thought of a shift in schedule can elicit feelings of increased anxiety. Mole hills can truly feel like mountains.

Still others dig in their heels.  They vow to stay put no matter what and they are unwilling to explore options that could well make their lives safer and more comfortable.  Facts go unheeded and they cling to the familiar, even when it is clear that the familiar no longer meets their needs. “Fight or flight” responses are strong and fear trumps possibility. Unfortunately life’s whammies can and do hit and these older adults become at even greater risk of losing their precious #autonomy.   We all know that no one wants to have to make #decisions during a time of crisis and no one else, no matter how well intended, will make all of the same decisions that you will.

The last group of people believe that they are much better off if they make a pre-emptive strike.  I work with a lot of these folks and they are the game changers – those who, by their own volition, take whatever steps necessary to #move from a house to a condo or from a condo to a #retirement residence because they know that this is the best way to ensure that they will be able to continue to make all of their own decisions.  This sense of control over their life helps to keep them moving forward throughout life’s uncertainties, accepting change with awareness, resilience, and yes, more than a little courage.  It is also not unusual for this group to hedge their bets a little, keeping other options open as they try out a new lifestyle or a #residence.

I have worked with two clients recently who chose to look at their moves as trial stays. One opted to remain in his retirement residence and loves it and the other has chosen to say bye-bye to hers and return to her condo.  We had both clients covered.  We were there to help them no matter what they ultimately decided to do.

Everyone is different and each of us has different wants, needs and priorities. We successfully work with folks who are in their sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties and, if available, their family members. While each may present differently, all of these individuals have the underlying desire to feel in control of their life and to decide, to the best of their abilities, what will work best for them.

Not surprisingly, being able to shape what, how and when change will happen, helps to provide our older clients with greater feelings of #optimism and this optimism translates into feelings of #confidence.  In a world that can seem #overwhelming at times, those feelings can help – a lot!

At Moving Seniors with a Smile Inc. we provide expert and knowledgeable advice that offers peace of mind.  We also assume the responsibility for the tasks that feel more physically daunting. We do what we can to ensure that any family relationships are strengthened rather than frayed throughout the process.  Essentially we provide our clients with a caring ear, practical objectivity, and #encouragement.  This way your move stays on schedule, everyone’s worries are reduced and you maintain your autonomy, at any age, throughout any transition.

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