By Thomas Torrey
Last week I interviewed Lisa, a Florida professional whose mother lives in the Memory Care neighborhood at a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). This particular community is about two years old and draws its architectural inspiration from country clubs, hotels, and spas, as opposed to the cinderblock-lined hallways from the institutional era that still haunts us. Lisa’s mother lives in a private suite, for instance, orders her meals from a daily menu, and can take a dip in the heated salt-water pool any time she wishes. She is surrounded by her peers and engages with them regularly when participating in the many group activities that the community schedules. She is stimulated, she loves her home, and she has round-the-clock care and security from the team of certified nursing assistants whom she each knows by first name.
“This is the best environment for her,” Lisa told me. “Better than her own home or even living with me.”
And yet, Lisa still has to defend her and her mother’s choice of living to their extended family. “I could never do that to my mother,” was the retort from one of Lisa’s family members. And as Lisa told me this, she started to cry. “I get so offended at this notion,” she said.
And she should be. For those of us who have helped our loved ones move into a retirement or healthcare community like the one Lisa’s mother lives at, it is offensive for someone else to imply that we have “given up” or “settled”, and that somehow a life lived in a CCRC is anything less than optimum. My grandmother lives in the assisted living neighborhood of a community similar to the one described above–a community I introduced her to and encouraged her to move into–and whenever I talk with her the first thing she tells me is, “Thank you, Thomas. Thank you for introducing me to this place.”
The old, clinical stigma of “nursing homes” is still so pervasive in our culture, and I have no doubt that it is what fuels people’s thoughts and words when they say things like “I could never…”. But if you find yourself saying those words, just know that all across the country there are communities pioneering a new way for our elders to live. And these communities often offer a much better way to live, supplying amenities, programs and socialization that is simply unavailable anywhere else.
So the next time someone challenges you and your loved one’s decision and says “I could never do that to my mother”, you can say, “Well I could never settle for anything less than the highest quality of life for mine.”
And then invite them for stuffed lobster at your mother’s clubhouse dining room.
Wrinkle Think® is a publication of
Senior Living Communities, LLC.