Tips for Seniors in Transition

Author: Marlene Stocks

It’s February, and for many individuals that means sticking to the resolutions made at the start of the year. Often, these resolutions focus on self-improvement or a change in lifestyle. Popular resolutions include exercising more, eating healthier foods, quitting smoking and spending more time with family. But for seniors in transition, the resolutions they may consider look very different because they often have to do with planning and preparing for the future. They could include: 1) getting their legal affairs in order, 2) discussing these plans with family and 3) beginning to downsize their home. These are all important goals that require careful thought before decisions are made because the outcomes will impact not only the senior in transition but also the family or closest friends:

  •   Getting legal affairs in order:  Proper estate planning is an important step in documenting an individual’s requests and intentions for a time when he or she may not be able to manage his or her own affairs because of illness or death. With clear and concise instructions articulated in a power of attorney document, medical directive and last will and testament, the senior instructs the chosen advocate to properly execute his or her requests. Seeking the advice of an elder law or estate planning attorney is suggested.
  •  Discussing the legal plans and personal end of life requests with family is important. Clearly, this is not a topic of conversation that most individuals enjoy having with their family, but it is one that needs to take place. It is essential for family members to be aware of special responsibilities that may be assigned to them, e.g., being named power of attorney or executor of an estate. These chosen individuals should know where the legally executed documents are stored so they can be easily accessed when needed. Also helpful to the power of attorney and estate executor would be knowledge of checking and savings accounts, investment portfolios, pensions, credit card accounts, online banking passwords, the key to safe deposit box, deeds to real estate properties, titles to automobiles, boats, etc., military discharge papers, insurance policies and any funeral requests and arrangements. A list of the professional advisers who have knowledge of the senior’s accounts — attorney, accountant, financial adviser and insurance agents — would be beneficial when additional guidance is needed.
  •  Downsizing if a senior has definite plans of moving into a retirement community or wishes to simply age in place in his or her present home should be explored. Initiating the downsizing process is a good idea, especially if the house is filled with many decades of possessions. Begin with a plan that is realistic and attainable and focus on small, manageable tasks. Don’t start with an unrealistically ambitious downsizing task, like cleaning out the garage or attic on a Saturday afternoon. Instead, go through the contents of a drawer while watching television. Retain the items to be kept, while donating and discarding the rest. By collecting small successes, positive energy is created to continue. Begin the downsizing process early. Time is needed to sort through the many items collected over the years, read papers and letters, laugh, cry and make good decisions about what to keep, sell, donate or discard. By working toward these resolutions now, you are providing a valuable gift and blueprint for the future for yourself and your family.

Marlene Stocks is the owner of Senior Transition Services, a senior move management company based in Huntingdon Valley. As a certified senior move manager, Stocks provides her clients and their families “peace of mind” by managing every detail of the senior’s move to retirement communities. Senior Transition Services proudly serves the five-county area and South Jersey. 215-947-5490. URL: