Friday, December 5, 2014

Home Sweet Assisted Living Home

Always be nice to your children because they are the ones 
who will choose your rest home.
                                              - Phyllis Diller

I think about that quote often nowadays as I frequently visit my mother-in-law in her assisted living home. We – my husband, my sister-in-law and I – chose the place. Mom had a stroke and the consensus among the family was that she could not return to her apartment and continue living alone.

While Mom rehabbed, we visited assisted living facilities, eventually selecting a very nice place six miles from our home.

That was three and a half years ago. Mom has had her ups and downs since then, as a slow, steady decline in mental and physical abilities continue.

A couple of months ago she transferred to a more secure section of the home. Her long-term memory still works remarkably well, but short-term functionality has been compromised. In addition she lost hearing in one ear as a result of the second stroke, and has difficulty catching and processing conversation. Phone calls are a string of, “What?” and, “we must have a poor connection.”

Yet, in a strange sort of way, she is doing better than before her transfer. She receives more attention and hands-on care, and as a result is thriving.

But because she is thriving she is restless and displeased with her situation, but participates in more activities than previously. She is less likely to sleep her days away.

A newly hired Activities Director enthusiastically supports and encourages the residents. Learning each one’s likes, dislikes, and history, she develops activities tailored to their interests and abilities, including family events promoting family and resident interaction.

So will Mom be me a couple of decades or more from now?

There is a strong movement to age in place – in one’s own home – but that is not always possible or desirable. Physical and/or mental requirements sometimes force an individual into an environment offering more intensive, hands-on treatment than spouses and family members can provide.

Not that there is anything wrong with Mom’s assisted living facility.

Except of course that is not what Mom will tell you. She berates the fact that her son put her in ‘this place’. She wants her car, which she cannot drive. She wants freedom to do what she wants when she wants, but is too frail to help herself do much of anything anymore.

Down the road I hope my health, both physical and mental, holds up enough so I can live my life the way I want and make my own decisions.

So how much longer might I expect to enjoy my favorite foods, world travel, reading (it will take several years to finish my current must-read list, and it continues growing), mind-numbing TV shows…and survive zumba class so I can enjoy my favorite foods?

Life expectancy at my age (I will turn 65 in 2015) is another 20.5 years. For men of the same age life expectancy is 17.9 years. 

If I must, I hope to pick my own ‘rest home’. At least then the only one I can blame for not liking the place will be me. It may be a difficult mission. A Health and Human Services Department study forecasts a shortage of housing for seniors as boomers age, predicting about 70% of the population reaching age 65 will need some form of long-term care during their lifetime.

In this particular case, I hope I will be a member of the minority population.

Meanwhile I will…

Eat a lot of chocolate. Recent studies indicate flavonoids, found in cocoa, may help stem age-related memory loss.

Get exhausted – but lots of exercise - every few weeks attempting to keep up with the grandkids.

Think about cleaning the house, occasionally actually doing so.

Make an effort to lose weight, a battle never won.

Dye my hair, although I am not sure for how much longer. At some point I will succumb to its natural color, whatever that might be.

Endure exercise classes, realizing achieving amazing results and morphing into a slim, trim figure will never happen.

Enjoy friends, family, and new relationships.

Try some new pursuits, learn a new skill or two or three. Easy ones!

Continue writing, traveling, complaining, and participating in all the other activities honed over six decades of living. 


  1. Why, you're just a young thing, Meryl! I just entered my 73rd year, and I'm finding it pretty much the same as the last one. If I can just keep up with my activities, I'll be happy, but I give them up one by one and replace them with something more sedate. It's the way of things. Love this post! :-)

  2. I think I'll post your list of to-do's on my wall.
    And if I can hold it all together, how encouraging to know I have 20 more years of fun ahead.

  3. Very interesting post today. We are visiting an assisted living facility next week. We have been there many times before, and are not ready to make that kind of move, but some day we might have to, so we've been doing research for some time. My kids won't ever have to make this decision.

  4. Ending up in a nursing home should not feel like a mandatory sentence. Yet, we have not worked out how best to meet the needs of those who can't take care of themselves, and might be a major burden to others. I can't expect my children to share the burden, either. We ought to come up with better solutions while we still can.
    Great post!

  5. I am planning to move to Never Never Land.

  6. One of my dear friends is 73 and still working.She is widowded, no children, in fairly good health.We visited a Community called Friendship Village recently.She is plannigngto move into a beautiful towon home there.There is a rather steep buy in fee,similar to buying a house--you sell your regular home and put the money into this plan.When you buy in, there is then a monthy fee. to live in your townhome.The homes are beautiful! Smallish, but the landscaping out front is cared for. You have a small backyard and patio. A carport. You have a certain amt. of meals provided in the Club House.If you become ill, the village has a nursing home and a hospice on site.You are transferred and ALL YOUR HOSPITAL CARE Is taken care of, your home is held..(your medicare is billed.) Your home is held.If you continue to need assisted care, that is covered (once you buy in.) All in all this village concept is incredible..ranging form individual townhomes to assisted living apartments to rehab care to nursing home to hospice.. I am going to keep this place in mind as I age. My friend wishes to continue wokring as long as she can,drives, is in fine shape overall, and will enjoy the village this Spring.. when she no longer works, she is still comfy--and if she becomes ill or needs more care, it's all in place!!!!! A really nice option......

  7. Excuse typos.Hit "send" before fixing!!!!LOL!!!!!!

  8. B's mother is in a nursing home. It seems like a foreign country, and I cannot imagine living in a place like that. But I've done a lot of things in recent years that I never imagined I'd do when I was younger. So, we'll see . . .

  9. Entering a care facility hasn't entered our planning yet, but we probably should begin checking them out. Several acquaintances have been contented with places they moved into. I think finding the right match is the key.

  10. Great post. We have insurance with Friends Life Care at Home ( Their job is to keep us in our home as long as possible and, if needed, help find other arrangements and keep an eye on us there.