Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Top 10 list - moving into a retirement community

Here is my list of the top 10 changes I saw in Mom after she moved into a retirement community (Fairhaven, Sykesville, MD )

It seems like only yesterday, but Mom has now been in her new home/retirement community for 6 months!

For those of you (and your aging parents) who are considering the retirement community option, please read on... my top 10 list:

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!

2. Her doctor has been able to cut back all 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 has decided to sit together at the New Year's Eve dinner party. Yes, they plan to stay until midnight, partying!!!

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 last week, 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.