Several times I have written about getting old and dealing with the accompanying aches and pains but, really I do not see myself as old, just very mature!
Age, like everything else is relative. I also don’t see that I am too heavy, if I were six feet tall, I would be considered quite slender, the flab just doesn’t rearrange itself as well on my five foot seven frame.
When do we actually think we are old? When we first started thinking of selling our motel and just doing part time work, our eldest daughter started hinting that we should move back down to the coast, so she could look after us. We were aged 56 and 57 at the time and were not in the least amused at her thinking we needed looking after. We subdivided our lot, built a home on the back acre and built a commercial kitchen for our catering business, which we ran for the following seventeen years.
Watching the numerous advertisements for senior residences, it would appear that nobody living there is over seventy five. Pictures of happy, healthy people having fun, swimming, shopping and hitting golf balls on the putting green out front, look marvellous, but there is nobody walking with a cane or a walker. Dressed for dinner are lots of youthful people enjoying gourmet food, served by a chef in his tall hat.
The reality of any of the residences that I have visited is not like this at all. Nobody seems to be strolling outdoors or doing much of anything only sitting around, mostly snoozing. The only people walking are leaning on canes or pushing walkers and shuffling, not striding seems to be the usual way of getting around.
Come meal time and the chef is remarkably absent, instead overworked care aids are delivering meals to really elderly people wearing bibs. The well dressed people of the ads have been replaced by seniors in pale blue sweat suits and pink hair ribbons.
I’m sure that some of the more expensive residences do have younger people enjoying a better lifestyle but most of the people I know would not go into a residence until ill health forces the issue. Age may force us to downsize from our three bedrooms with a large yard but most of us would prefer to move to a smaller home than go into any kind of facility. If we can afford to pay someone to do the jobs that we can no longer manage, then staying independent is manageable.
However, if the time comes when our health keeps us indoors with no ability to get outdoors and enjoy visiting our friends, it is time to make a decision for the future before our children make the decision for us.
Several years ago one of my really elderly friends passed away, she was living in a facility and her room had to be emptied in 48 hours. He daughter lived abroad and we had previously made arrangements that I would empty the room when the time came. Luckily one of my own daughters was able to help me do the job so we took the truck to the facility and began to empty the room. The bed belonged to the building but the other furniture had to be taken down a long corridor, down two floors in an elevator, along another long corridor, out the front door and across the parking lot to the truck.
By the third or fourth trip carrying and shuffling along with the heavy pieces of furniture, my daughter said to me, in a very serious voice. “When you are ready for a home, we are buying you Rubbermade chairs and plastic drawers on casters”.
The moral of this story is always be nice to your children as they are the ones who will decide your future accommodation! I think that when my time comes, I will do what the Eskimos do, just go for a long walk in the snow and never come back.