Part 19: Settling-in to Senior Housing

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. On a trip to Los Angeles last fall, my dear friend Sondra Katz and I went to the trendy Rockwell Comedy Club, where tables and chairs form a circle around the stage. As we approached the reservation desk, we were handed placards with our table number. Under the table number read, “You are exactly where you are meant to be.” Joan London

I thought, “Isn’t that an odd saying for a table reservation card?”

Since I had spent the past three days looking at available senior housing in Los Angeles, and the past 18 months trying to sell my condo in Baltimore, the placard seemed to be talking directly to me. I stared at it as we walked to our table, looked at it as the dinner and show pleasantly happened, and finally put the placard into my purse.

The placard has remained with me throughout my long journey from a condo in suburban Baltimore to senior living at Holiday Villa East (HVE) in Santa Monica. The placard now sits in a place of honor on my bedroom dressing table next to a most cherished picture of my deceased parents, George and Adele London. I read the inscription frequently as a reminder to remain in the moment and allow my journey of senior living to unfold.

Summer Camp or Cruise Describe the First 90 Days

Easter Egg HuntJourneyers, for those of you who have gone to sleep-over camp or on a cruise, that’s how the first 90 days of senior living felt. Every face was new, with names unknown and mostly not initially remembered. Hallways looked the same and for a few days I had to glance at the number on my key-holder to recall my room number. Meals occur on a fixed schedule at HVE, as do activities. Following someone else’s schedule rather than my own was quite a change.

Within a few days I met friendly staff and residents and quickly adapted to the schedule. I studied the bulletin and selected activities. I quickly became used-to and enjoyed the nourishing meals I did not have to shop-for or cook. My bed is made daily, my room straightened, and laundry handled by a friendly housekeeper. Expert assistance by a caregiver is available as needed.

I quickly decided I quite like the amenities of senior living, acknowledging that many compromises to my former lifestyle are necessary. Moreover, I love the temperate weather of Southern California and the delightful convenience of living close to my children and grandchildren. I’m happy that my search for senior living has passed and my journey is to enjoy it.

Are there challenges ahead? Of course. I miss my family, friends, and religious community back East and elsewhere. I need to establish a network of friends and social life. I must replace longtime doctors, dentists, hair stylists and trusted merchants. I need to learn my way around Los Angeles and drive when my broken arm heals. Much lies ahead, but that’s the fun of the Journey.

Journeyers, SeniorHomes.com and I invite you to share your experiences of moving to senior living. We welcome your comments and suggestions in the Comment Box below. I’ll post again in mid-June with more first-hand senior living observations. Until the next Joan’s Journey, enjoy the trip day by day.

Joan London, a former Houston Chronicle newspaper correspondent, is a freelance medical and social service writer. Ms. London recently moved from Baltimore to a senior housing residence in Santa Monica, CA, where she is closer to her children and grandchildren. Follow her entire series, Joan’s Journey: The Search for Senior Housing, on SeniorHomes.com