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While ageing is something we all experience, the ageing process creates unique challenges for you or your loved one. Whether you’re looking to manage change at home, in the community, or through a residential aged care facility, a little structure can go a long way.
We all find routine comfortable, which makes changes to living conditions, physical and mental health or social interaction difficult to overcome. These changes may lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, vulnerability and even depression. But change is an opportunity.
Whether you’re dealing with change, or helping a loved one transition into aged care, here are Generation Care’s proven strategies to manage change during the ageing process and live life on your terms.
Accept change (and embrace the positives)
Change is inevitable as we age. It may sound simple, but one of the most effective ways to manage change is to accept it. Getting older doesn’t have to bring feelings of stress or anxiety, as there are many positive experiences that come with age. New friends, bigger families, precious memories – these are all the result of change as you get older.
Learning to accept change (and not push against it) is a valuable skill regardless of your circumstances or age. Accepting that change is a natural part of life will help you manage new experiences as they occur, whether this is health-related, changing social relationships, or a move to residential care.
Here are a few proven ways for you to accept change as you get older:
✔ Find things to be grateful for: Managing change comes down to perspective. What do you have today that makes you happy? This could be something as broad as your family, or something specific like completing your favourite crossword.
✔ Accept the things you can’t change: Change becomes difficult to manage when you push back against forces you can’t control. For example, if you or your loved one is struggling with a degenerative illness you may feel frustrated and powerless. You can’t control everything, but you CAN control the way you react. When you accept some things are out of your control, you regain control.
✔ Embrace your feelings: It can be tough to share your emotions as you get older, especially if your family doesn’t have the same life experiences as you do. But keeping emotions inside can lead to anxiety, anger or resentment. Acknowledging your feelings can be as simple as writing your thoughts in a journal, speaking to a family member about your ageing concerns, or chatting with a psychologist to cope with age-related isolation or depression.
Stay connected with friends and family
Isolation is the enemy when facing age-related change with Australians over 75 more likely to be lonely than any other group. Getting older can make it hard to maintain connections with friends and family, or leave you dwelling on sad and anxious thoughts without someone to talk to.
If you’ve recently faced health challenges, mobility issues, or moved into an aged care facility, you may find yourself spending less time with loved ones. You may also have lost close friends or family to illness. Building a strong network of people you can turn to for support and company can protect against feelings of isolation and loneliness, as well as give you something to look forward to each day.
Here are a few proven ways for you to stay connected as you get older:
✔ Make new friends: It’s inevitable that your friendship circle will shrink as you age, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make new friends. If you’ve recently started your aged care journey this is a crucial step, and while making new friends can feel scary, you’ll quickly realise other people feel the same way you do..
✔ Make a schedule for your friends and family: When life is busy it’s hard to find quality time with loved ones. Organising weekly catch ups can give you something to look forward to and help you manage changing circumstances as you get older. Friends, children, or grandchildren – when you’re surrounded by support the changes in life don’t feel as tough to handle.
✔ Access support: If you or a loved one is struggling with changed circumstances, professional support can provide stability and guidance. At Generation Care our services include psychology, physiotherapy and exercise physiology to provide the care you need, when you need it.
Take action to look out for your physical and mental health
Getting older brings unique challenges, but sweeping these challenges under the rug only makes things harder in the long haul. Instead of ignoring the age-related challenges, find small ways to tackle them.
Each small step is a reminder you’re in control of your ageing journey, even if it’s only how you react to new challenges. Getting older doesn’t mean losing the ability to do things you love. No matter how old you are or what stage of an aged care journey you’re in, putting your physical and mental health first can help make change easier to manage.
Here are a few proven ways for you to look out for your physical and mental health as you get older:
✔ Exercise: Exercise doesn’t have to mean running laps around the park. Data from the Australian Government’s Department of Health has shown regular physical activity boosts overall health and reduces chronic illness risk. At Generation Care our physiotherapists support movement and balance so no matter what physical state you’re in, you can enjoy the benefits of a moving body.
✔ Change your hobbies: Keeping your brain sharp is a proven way to prevent cognitive decline and boost your overall well being. You can train your brain by changing your approach to your favourite past times. If you enjoy crosswords, try a new puzzle. If you like to read, pick a new genre to explore.
✔ Support your mind: It’s no secret our bodies change as we get older, but too many Australians neglect what’s happening between their ears. Getting older may trigger feelings of anxiety, stress, bereavement, loneliness or depression. Regular mental health support, whether through allied health services or a calming friend, can work wonders.
The secret to managing change as you get older
The only thing that’s constant in life is change.
While getting older is inevitable, the way you or your loved one processes this journey is up to you. By accepting change and finding ways to see life in a positive light, surrounding yourself with the right support, and paying attention to your physical and mental health, you can learn to manage change without feeling overwhelmed.
The secret to managing change as you get older, is to remember what you can control is more important than the things you can’t.
Generation Care is committed to making it easier for older Australians to access personalised allied health services and support. Contact our friendly team on 1300 97 95 93 or fill out our contact form to arrange a one-on-one consultation for further support.