Everyone wants to “age-in-place” and stay at home until the very end, but is it always the best thing? Unfortunately, we can’t all stay at home throughout our elderhood. I’ve talked to many who found out that living in an elder community can be a very good thing!
I met Pat while taking classes in gerontology. The beginning of her story was not remarkable. She suffered a medical crisis and found out that living alone was just not going to be possible for her. Her children were beside themselves. They would have loved her to stay with them but they all worked and she would be alone even if she moved in with them. So, the frantic search was on for a place for mom.
Sometimes, people can stay in their homes if they have good neighbors and lots of help. That wasn’t the case for Pat. She described her neighborhood during the day as “A desert for company.” All the friends that were her age had moved away. The younger folks in the neighborhood all worked. Aging-in-place just wouldn’t work out.
Her first days in assisted living were not the best. She described it as being “a little scary.” At 91, she just never imagined having to leave her beloved home. She was not a happy camper. But a funny thing happened while eating her meals. She began to make friends. She found people her age who loved some of the same things she did. She joined the exercise group and the art lovers’ group. She began her own group for those who wanted to write down their life stories. Pretty soon her children had to make an appointment with her just to visit!
Pat had been widowed for many years, so having people who had become friends living within steps of her are a true blessing. I asked her about her closest new friends. “Well, I’ve met a man,” she said will an impish smile. “He loves the same music that I do and enjoys art,” she said. “He’s wonderful! I’ve even met his family and he’s met mine.”
Pat said the worst thing that she thought could happen became the best thing in her life! Her health improved. She no longer had to worry about the yard or house maintenance. She had new friends that she enjoyed. Loneliness can be a death sentence to all of us. Assisted living can be a life saver and a new leaf of living!
What fears does your elder have about moving to an assisted living? Would you ever consider moving to a senior community? Why, or why not? We'd love to hear from you!
If you or a family member is going through a crisis, I want you to know that you are not alone. The support and education you need is available at your fingertips from expert care professionals at Lutheran Homes of Michigan. You may talk to a real person who does have the answers, without any obligation by calling 989.652.3470 or by emailing
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