Jane lived alone after her husband died and the kids moved away. She started to forget things, like putting the kettle on to boil and coming back to find the stove on fire. This, together with her diabetes and osteoporosis, seemed to Jane's daughter Carolyn like a fast-approaching crisis. It was time to talk about Jane moving into a retirement community. But Carolyn shrank from starting that conversation. It was not going to be easy.
For anybody, no matter what age, moving is one of the most challenging stressors in life. It's right up there with death of a loved one, divorce, illness, and job loss. For elders, moving can be especially traumatic. The wrench away from a familiar and loved environment, together with increasing health and financial worries, can be very painful. Resistance to the idea is understandable. How do we talk about such a thing with a loved one?
Carolyn could start by asking Jane how she would feel about freeing herself from the labor of shopping, cleaning, and maintaining the home and garden. Jane's life had become increasingly constricted, due to loss of friends and the inability to drive at night. Moving into a community of people in the same situation could open up new opportunities for activity and companionship.
Carolyn could point out how much wiser it would be to act now, rather than be forced to make crucial decisions in an emergency. She could also mention that the move would help her own peace of mind, too, knowing that Jane would be cared-for in a safe environment.
These days elders have much more available to them than only nursing home environments. Many retirement communities offer a wide variety of options, from independent living to advanced-care facilities. Many are happy to invite in potential residents for meals and tours, or to offer a few nights rental as a test run, to check out what life would be like there. Many communities offer perks like swimming pools, educational and entertainment programs, fitness centers, beauty shops, and clinics, all in walking distance. All these promote a high quality of life, in a safe environment together with others who share the same situation.
Can't stand the thought of the move? Senior-moving specialists, in addition to packing boxes, may provide floor-plans to show how the relocation to smaller quarters would work.
The move away, which can seem so daunting at first, could become an opportunity to improve life in a comfortable, stimulating, and happy setting.
Bradley J. Sarkauskas, Attorney-at-Law