Senior Couple - Facing Change with Certainty

When you look in the thesaurus under the word ‘change,’ several powerful synonyms appear: adjustment, difference, innovation, reversal, shift, transformation, transition, about-face, metamorphosis. Perhaps some of those words make you feel more positively about change than others, but let’s face it, no matter how you title it, change happens. Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously summed it up with, “change is the only constant in life”.

From day to day and year to year, everything is in a constant state of flux. You grow (physically, mentally, emotionally), you age; your friendships and relationships adapt or sometimes disappear. You switch jobs and sometimes careers. You move from one home to another, sometimes one state or country to another. Technology changes (far too often for some of us) and becomes a challenge to understand. Leaders serve their term and move on; leaves turn and fall to the ground. I am challenged to think of an aspect of our lives that doesn’t change as time marches on. Certainly, as we are closing in on the 3rd year of Covid being a part of everyday life, it is becoming harder to remember life ‘before’ the pandemic or to imagine what life might be like now had the pandemic not occurred. Just think of all that has changed.

Founding of Aging at 5280

With a master’s degree in organization management and leadership – and 10 years of experience in the senior care arena, I founded Aging at 5280 to help seniors determine their own road map to aging that is as unique as each of them. I am able to combine my expertise in real estate, senior living and the healthcare industry to provide ethical navigation services to seniors and their families.

Colorado Population Boom

In my years of experience working with the elderly and their care givers, I have seen a lot of change. One of the big changes I see in the senior living scene in Colorado is that services have become progressively more stressed and stretched. Anyone who has lived in Colorado over the past few decades knows that the population of our state has exploded. It seems that often young kids come to attend our colleges and universities, fall in love with our state and decide to stay. They marry, and have kids, and suddenly grandma and grandpa want to be closer. No one can fault anyone who wants to live in our beautiful state. However, a population boom of seniors has found our senior living environments at max capacity. We see that many facilities have a 2-3 year wait list, even for private pay residents. This scenario makes placement agents, like us at Aging at 5280, invaluable assets in navigating a system that is unable to keep up with the massive demand.

Elderly Mom and Daughter looking at Phone

Baby Boomers and Aging

Other large changes I am seeing in the eldercare industry include how many Baby Boomers are financially unprepared for their golden years. Baby Boomers currently make up a solid 1/5 of the US population (eclipsed only slightly by the generation of their children, The Millenials, for the largest generation alive today). I observe a large portion of Baby Boomers with no pension and no savings to pay for their senior care, who will rely entirely on an overwhelmed Medicaid system to fund their senior health needs.

I also am seeing a change in what some perceive as their best option for senior living. Where once nursing homes or living with family may have seemed like the only two options, assisted living, memory care, live-in help and others are strong possibilities to be considered. I myself envision the possibility of a “Golden Girls” arrangement where I could remain active and enjoying my life while living with a group of girlfriends in one of our family homes that would otherwise feel like too much house in which to live alone.

Change on a Continuum

While there is a large continuum of speed at which life-changing decisions must be made and action must be taken, there are times when status quo is really OK. Families and seniors often engage with Aging at 5280 when they are anxious and overwhelmed. Sometimes our best guidance is to slow down to really consider all options. I have worked with couples facing dementia who think they need to move today, but who would benefit from a slower set of transitions, as well as with elderly individuals who find themselves in the hospital unable to ever return home and facing a very sudden unplanned move. Their road maps were different; and for some, change was unexpected but needed to be swift. For others, the need for change developed slowly and could be more deliberate.

While change is often scary and feels negative, I have seen countless individuals whose road map found them moving when they felt it was not yet quite time. However, they flourished in their new environment, never realizing how lonely they had been or how hard it was to care for themselves alone. These situations remind us that change can be positive.

Russian writer Leo Tolstoy proclaimed that, “True life is lived when tiny changes occur”. As each day brings some form of change from yesterday, we know the future is not always as we anticipate. When we begin to see the path our journey will follow, seeking guidance in determining your road map to aging will be the difference between facing change with fear or with certainty.

Sources: Thesaurus.com, US population by generation


Author
Cindy Koch

Cindy Koch, MA

Certified Placement & Referral Specialist (CPRS) | Owner

Aging at 5280 is here to help elders and their families navigate through the healthcare system and customize a plan to meet their needs.