Adapting to Life Transitions in the Senior Years

As we age, there are lots of life transitions that come our way. While we have already been through so many different transitions in the past, like living on our own, getting married, having children, and even being empty nesters, some of the transitions the golden years bring, like retirement, downsizing, becoming caregivers, and more, can be really difficult. In this article, we’ll talk about how to manage these changes positively and give some tips to help you manage. 

  • Rediscover hobbies. While retirement can be something to be excited about, it can also be a point of stress for many older adults. After working for several decades and in many ways, being defined by that work, it can be difficult to suddenly have so much time on your hands and to struggle with your identity. However, retirement can be an opportunity to pick up and rediscover old or new hobbies. Try to view retirement as a chance to do things you never had time to do before, like sew, scrapbook, or do woodworking. These can help to fill your time and give you a sense of purpose. Even during a transition to being a caregiver for a loved one, a enjoyable hobby can be a helpful release. 
  • Volunteer. In addition to rediscovering hobbies, volunteering can be a great way to fill your time and give you a sense of purpose. There are lots of organizations out there doing good work who could use your help, and you may even be able to incorporate your newfound hobbies or skills you used in the workforce into volunteering. Volunteering can also help you to meet new people and make new friends, which is very important as you age to avoid social isolation. 
  • Continue to practice self-care. During difficult transitions, especially to something like caregiving where we feel like we have so little time to ourselves, it can be easy to put yourself last and not practice self-care. However, difficult transitions are when it is most important to practice self-care. Continuing to practice daily hygiene, prioritize sleep, move your body, visit the doctor and other preventative health screenings, and even engaging in a hobby or a volunteer activity you really enjoy are crucial. It’s important to take of yourself first, even at times when that may be difficult. It’s important that you still feel like yourself and are still practicing healthy habits for yourself. 
  • Foster and forge healthy relationships. Social isolation and loneliness increase with age, and it can lead to a dangerous path of mental illness, increased risk of falling, and other chronic conditions or unhealthy behaviors. The best tool you have against this is your relationships with others. If you’re newly retired, take the opportunity to meet new people by volunteering or taking a class or use it to spend more time with friends or family. If you are struggling to find the time for friendships because you have become the caregiver to a loved one, a support group for other caregivers may be a great option. Whatever it is, try to work on forging new relationships and fostering current ones, rather than isolating yourself and spending too much time alone. 
  • Ask for help when you need it. Whether you’re downsizing and need your children’s help with important family heirlooms, caregiving and need a break, or struggling to cope after retirement, being able to ask for help when you need it is a crucial skill. While so many of us are reluctant to ask for help, we are almost always willing to help our family and friends, which means your family and friends are also willing to help you. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need, when you need it. It can be so beneficial to your mental and physical health.