We are planners, taught from an early age being prepared is important. From fully stocked diaper bags, to school bags and briefcases, organized home moves and careful attention to each important event in our lives, we plan.

We have managed our lives, our families, our careers and our physical spaces. Granted, some of us are better planners than others and certain life events require more attention than others. Preparing for any significant transition in life counts among those that require the most attention and planning.

As we manage relocations, health challenges, changes within our families and financial questions among countless other issues, thinking about what lies ahead and preparing for it is our best bet even when closing our eyes and just hoping it will all work out seems more appealing. Using the same skills we likely have used most of our lives are exactly what we need as we navigate the steep terrain of aging.

We are capable, although help may be needed, of taking an inventory of our life, deciding what needs to happen next and who we need to assist us. Things we need to consider: how well am I functioning as far as memory, cognitive skills, physical abilities? Where and how would I prefer to live? Is a move to a senior living facility recommended? How do I manage my current home and belongings? Is my family and support network communicating in the best way possible on my behalf? Are my finances and legal matters arranged? How do I assure, to the best of my ability, that life’s next chapter is the best that it can be? One sure way is to get assistance from experts, those that are specially equipped to help us navigate our finances, assessments of our personal and family functioning, moving to a new living situation, management of home and belongings and arranging for other help as indicated.

It is important for us to be honest about our situation and to not concede to shame or embarrassment if life becomes overwhelming. Most often, we move quickly to help others, but hesitate to help ourselves. Let your life’s next chapter proceed as seamlessly as possible by planning ahead, realistically assessing the situation at hand and bravely engaging others to assist as needed. Use your strengths and abilities and have the courage to ask for help. Far more often than not, it pays off in decreased worry and increased comfort. Older adulthood can be difficult, but it is also a gift. Embrace it the best you can and try to find joy in everyday.


Carolyn Arnold is owner of SageHeart Advisors in Beachwood.

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