There is no way to joke about a logjam of white-haired people using walkers and motorized wheelchairs waiting for the dining room to open at four o’clock.
Tom and I are meeting sales person, Kathie, for a second look at the retirement community apartment that Tom and I are pretty sure we want to rent. We communicate with a look between us. Do we belong here? Are we ready for this?
Kathie arrives, and I question her. “Is there assisted living here? Shouldn’t some of these residents be in assisted living?”
Other communities I have visited don’t allow residents who need wheelchairs and some frown on walkers. Especially, the devices aren’t allowed in the dining room.
Kathie explains that in some communities, residents can to remain in independent living by using a variety of home health helpers. Agencies or individuals, for an hourly fee, can provide assistance with daily tasks such as bathing or dressing, eating, getting into or out of bed, taking medications, and physical or occupational therapy. In some instances, with a helper’s assistance, a couple can remain together in independent living instead of one having to move to a different community. And, in some instances, it costs less.
Later, over coffee, Tom and I talk about whether this, or any, retirement community is really for us. We both still drive. We take care of our own personal needs. I manage my own medications and Tom takes none at all. He plays golf several times a week in good weather, and I still putter in the yard, although it is getting more difficult for me because of arthritic knees. Even with hired help, the upkeep of the house has become a burden. I am as white-haired as anyone in the logjam and in a very few months we both will be 80 years old, an age at which it seems to me that strength, health, and abilities can begin to lessen.
We have been told repeatedly, don’t wait too long. Move while you can enjoy the amenities of a retirement community, which are many. Meals are provided. Maintenance is provided. Light housekeeping is provided every other week. Transportation is provided within a ten-mile radius.
An emergency alert bracelet is provided. A library, hair salon, exercise facility, and exercise classes are provided. Outings and activities, special interest groups are provided. The building is decorated for all holidays. No more lugging a Christmas tree up from the basement and unpacking and replacing decorations.
There are drawbacks, of course. But right now, Tom and I are looking for reasons to make the move. You have to reach the day when you say, I am ready to leave this house, and we have.
We schedule another appointment with Kathie. We will hammer out the final details and pay our community fee that will reserve the apartment.
We’re moving to a retirement community apartment. No joke.