Part 18: Senior Living Begins

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. I apologize, sort of, for the cliffhanger or “teaser,” as I ended our last blog with “Wam!Oliver - 052314 Boom! Whoosh through the air — like a cartoon character, I flew from the floor, my body in the air, landing face down on the platform” at my grandson Oliver’s 4th Birthday Party in Los Angeles.

What happened next?

After a few seconds of coming to grip with the accident, I knew something was terribly wrong with my hand, arm and shoulder to my neck. They felt dead — not painful — dead.

The very last thing I wanted was to ruin Oliver’s party — especially since he has warmed my heart on an earlier trip with a special party invitation. Quickly and quietly my son Mark and his friend Steve moved me away from the party play equipment. We waited for an ambulance to rush me to Cedars Sinai Medical Center Emergency Room. From the play area, Oliver sadly waved as the paramedics carried me on a stretcher to the ambulance. I told Oliver I was very sorry to leave early from his fun party.

The Epiphany Occurs

As the ambulance rode the miles to the Emergency Room, I stared out of its window and silently my heart spoke to me. The epiphany — that moment of sudden revelation — happened.

I never wanted to miss another of Oliver’s birthday parties or any special family occasion. I never again wanted to fly across coasts to attend a family event. I am getting older. Travel is becoming more difficult, expensive, and complicated. Life is fragile. Unplanned, unexpected, unwanted, chance events like my fall happen. I needed to stop procrastinating. I needed to move to Los Angeles and a senior living community where I would be safe, comfortable and close to those I love.

I arrived at the hospital calm, clear-headed and with a plan. While awaiting the sale of my Baltimore condo, I will pack my belongings and move to senior housing in LA. Fortunately, I had done my homework with Care Advisors and I had personally toured senior living communities in Southern California. My decision was made. I would live at Holiday Villa East (HVE) senior hotel in beautiful, sunny Santa Monica.

My calm in the ER was shaken when I learned that my upper left arm was severely broken across the bone in two places, and my collar bone was broken. My arm was set in a cast and I was admitted to the hospital pending further examination. My hospital stay lasted a painful six days. Then I was whisked by another ambulance to my newJoan moving into Holiday Villa East - 052314 home at HVE, where personal aides are available as-needed.

The Move Follows

Orthopedic specialists predicted my arm and shoulder need 4-6 months to heal, with a year for full healing. No hands-on packing of my condo for me. I was advised to remain in LA, with no heavy lifting until the bones are mended.

Enter my dear Baltimore family and friends who completed the downsizing I began about
2-years ago. From my HVE bed, along with welcome assistance from loving family, friends, and aides on both coasts, I identified a moving company. We set the wheels in motion, and literally with my left arm attached by a body brace to my side, I reinvented my life at senior living in Southern CA.

Journeyers, was it fate, coincidence, God’s Plan, or no correlation between Oliver’s heartfelt invitation, my fall at the party, and my epiphany? I believe all of the above. Now, about 13 weeks since the life-changing day, I am healing, happy at HVE and looking forward to blogging lots of first-hand senior living news and information.

Have you had an epiphany — that surprising moment of awareness to a question or issue? Please share with and me in the Comment Box below. Until the next post, enjoy your journey, 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

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