Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On living in a retirement community

For years I’ve been writing about my efforts to get my parents and my in-laws into senior housing. As a senior care professional, I know how important independence is to seniors but I also know how much faster people fail when their movement slows, social interaction is reduced and nutrition start getting overlooked for the sake of convenience. So for our parents, I wanted them to gain from the benefit of living with others in an active senior environment. I wanted them out of the driver's seat, too, if the truth be told.

We’re lucky in that both parents could afford this option. We live in a community with lots of housing choices, too. My mom chose a faith-based non-profit community of cottages; my in-laws a large for-profit high-rise closer into the city center.

The choice didn’t come easy. My in-laws, in particular, resisted the decision for a very long time. My mother-in-law was determined to die in the house she had lived in for the past 50+ years, just like her own mother did.

And then last Saturday night she fell. Right away my father-in-law pulled the emergency cord. Within minutes someone had come in to help calm them both and call 911. When the ambulance came the staff greeted them and make sure everything went well during the transfer to the hospital.

By the time we met them at the hospital, everything was fine. My father-in-law exclaimed over and over how glad he was that they lived where people could come to help immediately. "We have buttons or cords in almost every room!" he kept exclaiming.

My mother-in-law? Her main worry was whether she’d miss the special Sunday Brunch the next morning.

Is retirement housing or assisted living an option for you or your loved ones? Whatever your answer, focus on quality of life. Focus on what will increase your loved ones’ interaction with others, what will increase their physical activity and what will help ensure that they get good nutrition and, if needed, medication assistance. Think about how their move will affect you, too. Will it free you to focus more on your relationship and enjoy your time together, or will it cause you to spend even more time doing chores and handling responsibilities?

At the end of the day, it’s not where we live – it’s a matter of living a life rich with joy and meaning. It is, in a nutshell, about making it to Sunday Brunch!


daccarte said...

Love your posting. I experienced the very same kind of transition as you... with my elderly mother. I helped her sell her home and find a great retirement community a few miles from her home. In just 6 months, it's as if she has re-invented herself. I have never seen her as healthy or happy. She also marveled at the speed of help when she got dizzy one day.

This whole experience has made me realize I want to work with the elderly. I'm volunteering now but hope to find a way to put my corporate business experience to use.

I write about my mother's move in my Blog.

seniorlif said...

You can help make the transition easier by using a service such as Senior Living Consultants: www.southfloridaseniorhousing.com. If you're looking for Senior Housing, save your "soles." We've done the footwork for you.