Life is full of changes. We grow older, make new friends, move to a new city, gain new family members, learn to use new technologies, become wise and experienced and the list goes on and on because, after all, the world is a vibrant, moving place.
But just because change is perennial doesn't mean you have to like or be fully comfortable with all changes right away. For example, no one chooses to experience hearing loss as they age. Thankfully, technology has evolved, and there are now assistive listening devices available, like voice to text phones that allow those with hearing loss to enjoy life to the fullest.
If you're dealing with a big life change like retirement, hearing loss or moving away from friends to a new community, here are some tips to help you cope and – more than that – thrive:
Accepting and managing change
Dr. Abigail Brenner, a well-regarded psychiatrist and author who is an expert on life transitions, offered her tips for managing change in a 2011 post on Maria Shriver's website, beginning with the basic tenet that change is inherent in life:
"Change, the constant rhythmic ebb and flow of events, is the rule and not the exception," Brenner wrote.
Brenner says that you don't have to let change just happen but can instead be an active part of the process: weigh the options you do have control over and reflect on past transitions and how you managed them well or what you learned from them. After all, change opens up new doors and opportunities that you may have never imagined before. While it could be scary at first, grab the bull by its horns and take change head on. You may just be surprised with yourself.
A tool from AARP for embracing and exploring change
AARP has a free, community-centric tool for older adults called Life Reimagined, which is meant to support people going through transitions in life with "a real-world approach to change." The tool involves honing in on six important practices in getting through change and redirecting your focus:
- Connecting with a support system of individuals
- Exploring your options
- Choosing a (new) direction to focus on what's important to you
- Repacking – figuring out the tools you need along your journey
Through Life Reimagined, users can connect with others who are going through life changes – there's a special section for career changes – and gain support. The site offers several individual, interactive tools to help you assess what works best for your situation. For example, one interactive activity, called "Clear Your Obstacles," asks questions like "What is getting in the way of your progress?" and offers choices like "fear of success," "anger," "discouragement" or "starting and stopping."
There are other excellent features, like a sounding board where you can share your ideas with others and receive their advice and support.
The founders of this nonprofit tool are life coaches, counselors and thought leaders who hope to help people through difficult life changes.