Horne: Taking control of change reduces fear and stress

Horne: Taking control of change reduces fear and stress

Majorie Horne discusses the transition of downsizing and moving later in life

As I work with seniors and their families, often when consideration is being given to downsizing and moving, there is much to know about stepping into transition, in many cases because of changing circumstances in one’s life. It can be a developing health challenge or the loss of a spouse, sometimes family is needing more support to share in the caregiving role or it may just be that a new beginning is quietly calling you to open up to new friendships, experiences and opportunities.

Understanding what type of housing is the right one to investigate is the first step. Doing some preparation and research takes time and it is not always something you can do easily all by yourself. Change is hard. In a small book by Robert Maurer called One Small Step Can Change Your Life, he describes the long used Japanese method of Kaizen, which is one of their strategies on how to successfully move through change to achieve a goal. It is a path that winds so gently up the hill that you hardly notice the climb. It is a pleasure to negotiate and soft to tread. And all it requires is that you place one foot in front of the other. Kaizen is captured in the simple but powerful saying of Lao Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with the first step”. This is a useful approach when considering any change and certainly applies to transitional moves as we age.

Crisis management involves making decisions quickly while under tremendous stress. The power of choice, which gives us a sense of control that is the real comfort many of us seek, is often taken away from us. We are at effect of what instigated the crisis and therefore sometimes at its mercy. As we age, we cannot predict the future. Families need to talk about housing and potential risks and happenings that often are part of the journey through aging and prepare for change one step at a time. Do it before a personal health crisis happens or caregiver burnout has left you without the energy to think clearly and function normally. There is no one right answer. I believe that each person must consider the options for themselves, while they have the power to do that. The benefit is that you can fully participate with the process and the outcome.

Small steps can become giant leaps. Your brain is programmed to resist change. Maurer writes that “By taking small steps, you effectively rewire your nervous system so that it does the following: 1) Unsticks you from a creative block 2) Bypasses the fight-or-flight response and 3) Creates new connections between neurons so that the brain enthusiastically takes over the process of change and you progress rapidly toward your goal”.

The main benefit to being proactive, especially when it comes to making a shift in where you live, is that it can bring many positive things into your life. By taking control of change, it will help you be less fearful. While the modern medical name for the feeling produced by a new challenge or large goal is stress, for countless generations it went by the old, familiar name of fear. You have to name it to tame it and when you embrace change with courage, it enables you to move forward successfully.

One of the local retirement residences that I work closely with here in Kelowna is Chartwell Chatsworth located at 1831 Parkview Crescent. They will be holding their Annual Spring Open House on Sunday, April 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. This is a great opportunity to sample their delicious homemade cuisine and enjoy lively entertainment while you take a look around and pose any questions you may have to their helpful staff. Chatsworth offers an aging in place model, providing 1000 square foot independent bungalows onsite, as well as both independent and assisted living apartments that can meet your needs as they change. Call 250-860-1064 for more information or go to the Engaging in Aging Radio Show Facebook Page to listen to an interview with Colleen Groat, their retirement living consultant explaining all of the details. If you want to learn more about “Getting In The Groove for Making A Move”, I will be facilitating this free workshop at Chatsworth on May 17th, with lots of great information on the emotional and physical aspects of moving transitions. Just call Chatsworth to register.

So, summon up your courage, bring along a friend or family member and start to take one small step at a time as you prepare for your future aging life journey. Sam Keen says it best: “What shapes our lives are the questions we ask, refuse to ask, or never think to ask.”

Marjorie Horne is the founder of Caresmart’s All Settled In Senior Relocation Services and host of the Engaging in Aging Radio Show, Sundays at 9am on AM1150. Contact her at 250-863-9577 or email marjorie@caresmart.ca

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