Tips for Aging Better in San Diego

My stepfather passed away in February.  He raised me from the time I was 12 and even when he and my mother divorced, my family stayed intact.  When he was on his deathbed near my sister’s home in Florida, he made arrangements for the rest of his children to travel to be there.  My brother flew from Israel and I flew from San Diego.  I arrived on Thursday.  He died on Friday night.  His last day was one with all of his children sitting together, laughing and sharing stories.
When it was time for his funeral, he’d made all the arrangements and even included money for his children and grandchildren to travel for his funeral.  While his health deteriorated, there was money for him to live in assisted living so none of us would have to take on the financial burden or take a lot of time from our families.  Rather than our family having to worry about him or figure out the logistics and expenses of his funeral, we were able to enjoy him – his last few months of life and come together with him during our time of grief, supporting each other and carrying out his wishes.
The night before his funeral, he even “intervened” when my siblings and our kids ended up at his favorite sushi restaurant (unbeknownst to us and completely unplanned) at the exact same time his sister and cousins would be there.
We live in a society of people who like to bury their head in the sand.  If we don’t talk about it or acknowledge it then it isn’t going to happen.
The reality is this sets us up for failure.  Our families become saddled with responsibilities and rather than enjoying our relationship with our parents and loved ones, we become caregivers and our lives and the lives of our children are disrupted.
When we have conversations and express our wishes acting proactively rather than reactively – we can get through obstacles with curiosity and calm rather than making decisions from our amygdala brain.  Our amygdala brain is the animal instinct brain – fight, flight or freeze.  If you’ve ever made decisions during a stressful time, you know exactly how that feels.
Being proactive is different than worrying.  Worrying is ruminating on what if scenarios but not taking the necessary steps to deal with them when they come.
October is National Long Term Care Month (because isn’t’ there a month for everything?).  As someone who works with seniors as they are downsizing and preparing for life adjusting for the physical challenges aging brings, I have the benefit of someone else’s 20/20 hindsight.
Every one of us, if we are lucky, will age.  Age will bring challenges – whether it’s to your eyesight, your ability to climb stairs or to your cognitive ability.  Figuring out how you’d like to live, whether it’s a smaller easier to maintain home, closer to your adult children or in a senior community, you owe it to yourself and your family to make and plan for this time.
Part of this plan can include doing your own Swedish Death Cleaning – proactively going through your own home and making your wishes known, pairing down and letting go of belongings.
Another important part is making sure your affairs are in order.  Do you have a will and trust?  Is there an estate plan in place?  There are some wonderful estate planning attorneys in San Diego.
Do you have Long Term Care Insurance?
Would it make sense for you to take out a reverse mortgage on your home?
What do you need to do to remain in your home safely?  Have you ever explored senior community living in San Diego?  Is community living something you’d enjoy?  There are placement professionals in San Diego who know the different communities – their personalities, the expense of living in one and the safety ratings past the smoke and mirrors.
To learn more about aging resources available in the San Diego area, we can provide a list of vetted professionals including but not limited to Estate Planning Attorneys, Long Term Care Insurance Brokers, Placement Professionals, Financial Planners, Home Health and Home Care Companies, Reverse Mortgage Brokers.  We are also available for in-home consultations helping evaluate whether your home is the best fit for your desired lifestyle and what may need to be done or whether a move to another home or a senior community is your best option.
If you want to prepare more for successful aging, Dr. Ken Druck’s book “Courageous Aging” is a must read.
Bryan Devore, Realtor and Director of Senior Division for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services and Silver Linings Transitions will be participating in the San Diego Union Tribune Successful Aging Virtual Expo October 24-November 13.
If we are lucky, aging is inevitable.  Approaching aging and it’s challenges head on, on your own terms can make the difference between reacting and being caught by surprise or experiencing the blessings that come with aging – wisdom, deepened relationships and the opportunity to get off the hamster wheel and find enjoyment in slowing down.