As per Dale Carter, founder of Transition Aging Parents. Dale is dedicated to providing insight and information to adult children of aging parents so their parents may “thrive and find joy” in every stage of life.
This is a copy of my favorite article from her site:
One of the biggest decisions our aging parents face is where to live. Many see it as making a choice between “aging in place” or a senior living residence (such as a retirement community, assisted living or nursing home). I have seen people argue their choices with a real passion. It reminds me of the fired-up discussions about whether a mother should stay at home or work.
I don’t view the living choice as one or the other. True, it is a choice you will make at a given point in time. But, because your parents’ physical/mental health will change over the years, your choice will need to be evaluated from time to time. Even if you and your aging parent choose the “aging in place” option at this time, consider educating yourself in other options in the event they can no longer live at home. If there’s one thing I learned from my experience, it’s so very important to think ahead.
So, it is in this spirit of respect for all living options, that I share what I’ve seen as the top ten benefits my mother gained from moving into independent living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community. One year after she moved in, this is what I observed:
1. Mom ditched her walker and now enjoys walking with her friends. Not only is this great for her health but also for her spirit! In fact, the first day we visited her community, she entered in a wheelchair.
2. Her doctor has been able to cut back her medications due to healthier eating, exercise and weight loss. Her doctor is thrilled that she has lost 40 (unhealthy) pounds and she is also proud of her appearance.
3. Mom enjoys and takes advantage of the wide variety of healthy and delicious food served in the dining rooms. They usually have her favorite dessert: sugar-free butter pecan ice cream. This puts a real smile on her face.
4. She proactively sought out the onsite nutritionist to understand what foods and how much she should eat, given her diabetes. In the past, my mother had been passive, letting life happen to her. This is a new and good change for her to start asking for things on her own.
5. She has access to many of her life-long doctors right on site; and the Wellness Center ensures she stays on track with all her check-ups. The only two things she goes off site for is mammogram and her specialist at Johns Hopkins. She likes having the convenience of on-site but also the need to go off-site sometimes.
6. Her mood and outlook on life have gone from sad to joyful. I can hear this even in her conversation. She used to speak in short phrases in a monotone. Now, she sounds like a different person. She articulates, is descriptive in her language and has the cutest lift in her voice.
7. Before moving to the retirement community, her network of friends had dwindled down to two dear ladies who had health problems themselves. She had been housebound due to health problems. Now she has a wonderful new group of friends, who truly look out for each other. She loves to tell me about conversations down in the laundry room…and how their floor stayed up until midnight at the New Year’s Eve dinner party. She is anticipating the Annual Crab Feast on Labor Day.
8. Her view has now changed from being focused on her ailments to more of a world view. She’d much rather talk to me about the economy, politics or her new friends. She says she takes advantage of every lecture / performance that’s offered. She was quite excited about seeing her first opera with sub-titles.
9. There is no longer a threat of her safety (of her falling in her home or on the ice as she walked to her mailbox). And, she feels so much more secure. A presentation was made recently, informing residents of what exactly happened if they had to be taken to the hospital. She said it took all the fear out of an unknown situation.
10. Mom feels respected and loved in a community of her peers. But, she still attends her church and stays in contact with friends, often attending outside lunch events with them. It is important to her to keep her feet in both worlds and stay connected with her community outside.
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