Adjusting to new circumstances is a challenging endeavor, whether you’re seven or 75. For seniors, however, shifting economic climates, changing health conditions and new living arrangements can compound this challenge.
According to a document developed by the Centers for Disease Control, more than 74 million people will be over the age of 65 by 2030. The document, “Healthy Aging in Action: Advancing the National Prevention Strategy (HAIA),” identifies specific actions for healthy aging that are continuing to improve health and well-being in later life. The HAIA identifies three areas to advance healthy aging, including: promoting health, preventing injury and managing chronic conditions; optimizing physical, cognitive and mental health; and facilitating social engagement.
“Isolation is such a big struggle for people who aren’t able to be on the go like they used to; especially during COVID,” says Ashley Simms, director of operations at Interim HealthCare of OKC. “Our nurses and field team absolutely form special bonds with our patients. It is a very vulnerable situation to allow someone to come in and assist you with some of your most private needs, such as bathing, understanding a new medication … or just even trying to understand a new, and sometimes scary, diagnosis.”
Facilitating social engagement can be one of the toughest obstacles for many seniors to overcome, but communities in Oklahoma exist to make that obstacle easier to tackle.
“We have a lot of resources,” says Stacy Axsom, director of sales at Cedarhurst Senior Living in Tulsa. “A lot of times, the biggest fear for seniors is: ‘I’ve been living in this house for 60 years, and I have 60 years’ worth of stuff. I really don’t even know what to do.’ A lot of times that fear can almost be like paralysis. We just want them to see that it’s not as difficult as it seems, and that every single person that has walked into this building and moved in here has gone through the exact same thing.”
The staff at Cedarhurst, and facilities like it, work to create a community through planned events and social engagements. The environment then becomes one of positivity, where residents can engage with one another in healthy ways.
Transitioning to a new living space can be an overwhelming process, but the experience can be simplified if seniors work with a professional to prepare themselves financially, according to Andrew Flinton, president of Retirement Investment Advisors.
“It’s just ingrained in us to say: ‘How can we help?’” says Flinton. “We always say that we don’t deal with portfolios, we deal with people. Our firm really specializes in retirees, so if you’re, in maybe the next five years, going to stop having an income, there are a few very important things: First and foremost, have a really good understanding of what your budgetary requirements are going to be. Become intimately familiar with your expenses. Right alongside that, we always strive toward being debt-free, ideally, including the house prior to retirement. Those are basics.”
The fundamentals of being debt-free, having cash reserves, and understanding budgetary requirements for retirement can ensure the transition is manageable. For some, that might seem impossible and, for them, Flinton recommends reaching out to a professional to help assess the situation.
“With the rapid changes in this economy – the global economy, legislation – if you are not on the front end of those changes, it can be detrimental at times, and cost people tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes just by not knowing the rules,” says Flinton. “I don’t care if you’ve got an advisor or not, you should talk to someone and get a second opinion. Having that ongoing guidance and having someone who is in your corner is invaluable.”
Ultimately, the best outcomes are rooted in early preparation and developing an open line of communications with professionals to handle the unique challenges that come with retirement.
“If we can help in some way, we want to,” says Flinton.