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Friday, July 18, 2014

I made a visit to A Senior Retirement community this week and felt quite comfortable there. I have been researching what is available and what I can afford for some time. Decided it was time to do some “tours”. My thought was I should have a place to go should my health fail and I be unable to make plans or to live on my own. I don’t expect to be getting better after all. I have memory, concentration problems now and it is hard to get around because of arthritis pain and a heart failure condition. I can use a walker here in my condo but it has to be a wheelchair and someone to push it if I want to leave the building.
Some days I’m too tired to play in the kitchen and if I don’t have something ready, well, my “diet” suffers. I don’t see or visit with many people. . .and that’s all right. Although I like people, I’m not exactly a social type. Actually, I enjoy my own company (and those of my cats!), reading, writing, Facebook and some TV. My wonderful Aide is here three times a week and we enjoy each other. There are days though when I’d just as soon she didn’t come. It is always good that she does – she can shake me out of a bad mood or depressed feelings just by coming through the door with that smile. She brings the sunshine and I always feel much better after she’s been here. She is a blessing.
So – the meals, the housekeeping, the laundry and a social life could be taken care of at an Independent Living facility. BUT there would be losses – losses I would bring on myself if I moved just to be sure I would be taken care of in Assisted or even in the Nursing part of the facility if I ever needed. I could get around with help more often than three times a week, visit with folks, attend musical events, movies, and meals. But the losses which would occur, important parts of my life right now, would be huge for me.
A very dear wise woman who knows me well summoned up her viewpoint with the words “Enjoy! Let the ‘what ifs’ go.” Just thinking about the ‘enjoy’ aspect I asked myself some important questions.
Would I be able to go to bed and/or get up when I pleased? Could I cook for myself which makes me happy? Or spend hours on the internet playing cards or reading recipes? Could I take a nap whenever I wanted? Could I have breakfast at noon and skip lunch with Ritz crackers or raw veges and hummus for “dinner”? Could I be in charge of my own meds, BP and weight? Could I keep to the 1400 mg of salt a day? ( That very nice cook assured me she never uses salt in her cooking but she has hot dogs on her menu. )
And more important than all, would I get to visit my friend in Westfield, keep track of the kind people here at where I live now, and those at CVS who have taken such good care of my Rx or see my friend and Aide who shares stories of her family with me, my new PCP at Valley Medical or Pam the cumadin nurse? These would be major losses.
When I met staff in the halls would they be as caring as Jackie or as pleasant and helpful as most of the other workers here? Would I feel safe and secure? (We met a woman in the hall of the nursing home cleaning the floor. She stood at the end of the hall watching us approach. She was a big woman - and I’m not prejudiced – because I’m big and she could have been sky-blue-pink if she had just smiled or spoken or made any acknowledgement that we were visitors. But she just stood there until we passed with an expression on her face and in her eyes that I didn’t see as friendly but a little unsettling.)
Some days I don’t bother to get dressed but run around (no, not “run around” exactly) in my night shirt and a pair of shorts. And I am always barefoot (I wear shoes only when I have to go out). I wonder how that would go over at this very nice Home? OK, perhaps if I stayed in my rooms, but It makes me grin to imagine it!
So – as I have thought about it, it is obvious to me where I can “enjoy” – And the ‘what ifs’? I’m happiest remembering the gifts of the past but living in the now. Never mind “ what if.” No worries about who I was or who or how I might be. It is the NOW that I can enjoy and will be forever (however long that might be) grateful for the friend who asked the right questions and cut through the growing confusion that was keeping me awake at night and ruining my appetite by day! As she encouraged, I’m going to enjoy my life right now, right here, today.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Hi I just thought I would share my mom's experience. She moved to a retirement center at age 80. The first year was hard, but she just blossomed and enjoyed it after that. She made many friends, which was HUGE when she was confined to her bed for the last 3 years of her life. (She just passed away at age 95). We celebrated her memorial at her retirement center last week, and it was so nice that over 150 of her friends attended. She didn't think she was lonely or needed people but she really started to enjoy life, eating meals, and interacting with people a lot more.

    As to her prior friends and her church -- many kept in touch, but not all of them.

    Best wishes in making the right decision for yourself,
    1735 days ago
    Thank you both so much. It's good to hear from others who have known folks in my position that I am on the right track - for me. I certainly feel so much better having decided - while the struggle was ongoing, I wanted only to go to bed and sleep. Escape? I think so - it's good to feel alive again and get back to the life I enjoy. I'm grateful for your support.
    Blessings, Meri
    1735 days ago
    Dearest Meri ... I love your thought process, it sounds like you have done all the right things with the pros and the cons of making such a move and I have to agree with your friend - live in the now !!! What will be will be, regardless.

    One of the volunteers that works we me at the hospital is in her 80's and she lived in her own condo on a ground floor with you beloved little yorkie. She was very happy with one exception - she didn't have a lot of friends within her age range that she could socialize with, yes she had children and grandchildren that she enjoyed time with but now quite the same. And she just didn't like the idea of giving up her little condo where she was comfortable but def would not consider it while her little yorkie was alive. She was such a joy to have working with me and we even went our for dinner on occasions with my other friend Linda.
    Well ...... her little yorkie died ans she decide to sell everything she could and pack the rest and make the move to an retirement community. I have been there and it is a lovely huge place (very well known) and expensive) with so much to do, several restaurants to decide to eat at, etc and just sounded perfect to her. Well the only thing she could really afford was a very small 1 bedroom apartment and it was not on the ground floor and the parking to her place would not be convenient at all, but there is a shuttle to take you just about anywhere. She ended up getting rid of way more than she wanted too and replacing furniture with smaller items. But she has lots of social time now with lots of people there to do it with. I thought she would be so happy.
    Well ..... let me tell you this, I and my friend Linda have noticed such a big difference in her. She has changed so much, she has become so negative and grumpy and such a complainer now that I do not enjoy having her work at the desk with me. We both think it is a lot to do with the group of people she now socializes with and the fact that she does not have the true freedom that she wants to do things at her own pace, like eating and depending on the shuttle that gets her where she needs to go but it is also taking others to their destinations as well at the same time. I asked her if she would make the same decision if she had to do it over again and her reply was "not as soon as I did, for sure"

    I think you made a good decision also Meri, I think you will know for sure when it is the right time. My best advice for you is .... have faith in the Lord's plan for you !!!

    Love, hugs and blessings my friend.
    1735 days ago
  • ROBEC4175
    Hi glad you have given much thought to this aspect of aging and made the rounds doing tours. Tomorrow I go visit my friend Flo who is 98 and a half and is in an assisted living facility. I used to visit her and her husband (he passed at 101) when they were at home. I'm not extremely happy with the things I see with Flo at this facility, but her granddaughter visits everyday and she also has someone come to see her on Sats/Suns so I don't worry about her too much. But it's just the listening to her which I find they don't really do. And they rush with her (getting dressed, etc.)

    Your friend's advice sounds spot-on.

    Take care.
    1735 days ago
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