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Life Transitions and Decisions

Life Transitions and Decisions

When you were in elementary school, did you groan in despair when the teacher gave an assignment to write a report?  Perhaps a specific topic was required, or, if you were lucky you were given a choice of topics.   At the time, knowledge about the subject of the report seemed to be the most important outcome of the assignment.  Aside from what they are, I don’t recall a single fact about mudskippers (the topic of one of my elementary school science reports).  But that report assignment was teaching me a skill which would be important throughout my life, especially during life transitions.

That skill is research.  I recall visits to the school and local library to search through encyclopedias, magazines, and books for information which would be useful for my assignment. (No internet at that time!)

Although the term “research” is often thought about related to science, research is an invaluable tool for many aspects of our lives.  We research locations where we would like to vacation, different types of plants when planning landscaping, and recipes for meal preparation.  Significant amounts of time are spent doing research during times of major life transitions such as attending college, finding a new job, the birth of a baby, and preparation for retirement.

Research related to our own needs or the needs of a loved one when aging begins to bring changes to our daily lives is often delayed.  Much like a report about a topic which we find uninteresting or undesirable, we procrastinate until a deadline is upon us.  With aging, that deadline often arrives in the form of a health care crisis or complications with the tasks of daily life.

During a crisis, time and stress become factors which influence the quality and amount of research which can be conducted. We hope to find relevant and comprehensive information in one place, and often rely on friends, neighbors, or the professionals standing in front of us to point us in the direction of the information and assistance we need.

For those who take the time for pre-emptive research and planning related to aging issues, knowledge is often obtained by reading books, magazines, newspapers, or articles on the internet.  Care should be taken to evaluate the source of this reading material.  My daughter, while writing her undergraduate and graduate theses, always sought “primary” sources first.  These are sources with direct knowledge and experience related to the topic at hand.  The point of view of a primary source is also important to consider. For example, the type of information which is shared by a physician, a nurse, and a patient for the same medical condition will be related but perspectives will differ.

Seminars, webinars, podcasts, and internet videos are valuable methods of gaining information as well.  Many organizations and businesses provide seminars/webinars for free.  Participation in these types of presentations allows individuals to make determinations about businesses/organizations and specific professionals which might not be possible through reading material alone. Evaluation of the personality and communication skills of the presenter(s) can have an enormous impact on a person’s confidence about the services which are offered by that professional.  Attendance at multiple events can also create familiarity with a professional or business/organization, which can help ease life transitions when assistance becomes necessary.

Personal recommendations also provide insight into the services of a professional or business/organization.  If an individual you know and trust shares a positive experience, it makes sense that a feeling of security is more likely to be present when contracting for those services.

Keystone Elder Law P.C. appreciates your attention to this weekly column and our seminars.  Very soon, we will soon be adding short videos to YouTube which will help improve public understanding of some potentially complicated aging issues.  Our experiences over the course of our first ten years of elder law practice have yielded a wealth of knowledge about life transitions.  As we begin our second decade of practice, we continue to focus on education as one of our top priorities, so that individuals and families will have the information they need to make appropriate life decisions.

We invite you to review our previous columns (found in the blog section of our website, attend one of our free seminars (see Resources/Event calendar on the website), or call our Care Coordinator as part of your research regarding personal life transitions or the transitions of a loved one.

Karen Kaslow, RN, BSN