Change is the only constant. And as we enter our later years, it seems the changes are more frequent. Before writing Life Is in the Transitions, Bruce Feiler interviewed 225 individuals to gain a sense of the ways people navigate disruption across the lifespan. He found that we experience roughly thirty-six transitions in a lifetime, averaging one every twelve to eighteen months. Often several pile up at once, especially when we are older. Common transitions for older adults include a shift in health or ability, a marital change (death or divorce), a new housing situation, or a drop in expected income.
There are general phases to transitions. One phase is the "long goodbye," our reconciling with the fact that one aspect of our life is irrevocably coming to a close. Another is the "messy middle"—figuring out how to find balance in the chaos of change. And the third is the "new beginning," embracing a new way of living.
Here are seven strategies Feiler suggests using during a transition:
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Leslie Alin Tewes is a Geriatric, Disability & Medical Care Manager; Elder and Adult Care Advocate; Quality Improvement Specialist.