When I was at the entry station for basic training we saw a group of soldiers who were leaving basic training. Their uniforms were a little worn, they had some extra gear and accouterments, and they seemed pretty tough and rugged. Wow, I thought, will I ever be that experienced and tough-looking. Well eight weeks later that was me leaving basic training looking just like that. I realized then that they weren’t that different from me in time and place, and it was just the perspective.
When my wife and I first started ballroom dancing we watched the silver-level class and thought how good they looked and marveled at the difficulty of the moves they were doing. We wondered if we would ever be that good. Well, five years later we are in the silver level and maybe the newcomers to our studio think we are really good and doubt they ever will be as good themselves. We don’t feel like we are as good as I thought those other silver-level dancers were, but maybe we are.
When I was a child and visiting my grandparents I thought how old they were with their silver hair and wrinkles. I could not imagine who they were or what they had seen and done in their lifetimes. I didn’t even really think about old people as “people” back then. Now fifty years later my hair is going grey and I know that we are all transitioning to the next step every day.
The same principal applies when I meet with my elder clients. They don’t see themselves as any different than they used to be. But, they are now where their parents were 30 years ago, or where their grandparents were 60 years ago. It’s hard to get that perspective when you are there in the moment, but it’s necessary to think about it and plan for it.
Unless you pass away while you are still otherwise “healthy,” you will get older and less able to do the things you do today. No, you don’t want to admit it to yourself and neither do I, but it’s true. We all need to plan for a future where we need assistance with the everyday activities of living. We may need help with finances and bill-paying. We may need help with house cleaning and snow shoveling. We may not be able to bath or dress without assistance.
You must consider the possibilities of your future and plan for the necessary and inevitable transitions that will occur. Think about where you live now and whether or not it will work for you in a future where you have trouble climbing stairs or walking. Think about your activities like shopping and consider a time when you cannot drive and go to the super market. If you start planning now, your future transitions may not be so hard. If you decide not to think about it, then the future might be very difficult. Transitions will happen whether you want them to or not. It makes sense to plan ahead.