By Max Greenberg
"I?ll Wait Until Something Happens"Uploaded: Dec 7, 2013
Working in a senior retirement community, my main job is getting to know prospects, taking them and their families on tours of the community, showing apartments, discussing financials and helping them decide if we are the right fit for them and if so, when to make the move.
Something that is often a struggle for me is moving someone from "I'll wait until something happens" to make the move, to "I'll do it now before something happens and I no longer qualify to move into an independent living (IL) community." That can be a sea change in thinking for most folks. And it has been heartbreaking to have a couple, for example, come back a year later when they think it's finally time to make the move, and one of them has enough loss of mental or physical capacity to disqualify them from moving into an IL apartment home with their spouse. If they had moved in while both relatively healthy, the developing memory issues, or physical ones, might have been managed to the point where they both could live together in IL even if their condition did become more pronounced. Classic case of "Waiting until something happens."
I understand quite well why many seniors do not want to make the move sooner rather than later, even when it is clear that their physical limitations, diminished mobility, and overall health would all benefit from living in a safe, friendly, vibrant, and in my community's case, multi-generational village-like community. I think one common reason is feeling that if they give up their beautiful home of 40 or 50 years where they raised their family and have so many fond memories, that they are taking one giant step closer to the end. And who wants to do that?
I try to show folks that this next step is not hastening their demise, but rather the first step to the next wonderful stage in their lives. And that they can "age in place" in their beautiful, apartment homes, without being isolated, as is often the case when folks "age in place" in their current home, especially if they are widowed, as they see their neighbors pass away and move on, and their baby boomer kids are busy with lives of their own.
We are very fortunate that there are some wonderful retirement communities in the Bay Area. But many folks aren't really aware of them, or think they are all "old folk's homes." I was one of those people who characterized them that way, back in 1999, when my dad in NYC had a stroke and moved in with my sister in Newton, MA. She called to say she couldn't take care of him by herself anymore and was going to put him in "a home." Well, no dad of mine was going into one of those places, so I picked up the family and moved out there so he could live with us. Once my dad started to recover we started looking for some housing for him, and I was introduced to the wide world of retirement living. We found a great IL community that had assisted living (AL) services available as need, and he spent 4 happy, active years there until he passed away. We then returned to Palo Alto, and I took his advice: "You did a good job finding me a community to move into, downsizing me from my home in NYC, making it easy for me to make the transition. You should get into the business."
Try to help your folks, neighbors or relatives at least be open to move from "Waiting until something happens" to taking control of their future, and remaining in a position of making their own decisions as they keep senior living options open, and not get into the position of having someone else have to make these decisions for them when it's too late.