This is the last post for my The Last Stop column. For two years and two months, I have shared my way of life at a continuing care retirement community. You, my readers, have read about the move and my denial that went with it; followed by me, surprisingly, continuing my practice of psychotherapy while I lived in my cottage; the death of my husband after a lifetime of marriage; and finally a move to the Lodge. I have shared many stories of my life in the Lodge that included the occasional almost disasters, good experiences and sometimes the bad. I continue to think of my life here, as I described in an earlier post, as a mixture of group home living—sometimes like an institution and often like a permanent cruise ship.
If you have followed me these past two years, you know of my four children and their spouses, my grandchildren and now great grands. Yes, there is always more to write about and always a time to end and this seems like a good time to end. If you read The Two-Year Mark, you know I have turned my posts, with additional stories, into a memoir, The Last Stop—Reflection on Senior Living. You probably also read my whining about not having found a publisher and my enlisting any help my readers might offer. I still am looking. My email is [email protected]
Reflecting on What is Senior Living
As I was taking my customary early morning walk on a beautifully sunny day, viewing the inspiring snowy front range mountains, I was thinking, free associating actually, on what might be of interest to my readers for this last post. My mind began focusing on whether I thought the move Bob and I made seven years ago to join this community was a wise choice. Where would I be if I had not moved here? How were my friends living? I thought about my mountain friends first. Then my mind took me back to my suburban life of the 1980s and earlier and where were those friends. That made me realize that many of my age mates have died. After I mastered that hurdle, my mind went on.
Surprisingly I cannot think of a single friend, or even acquaintance, who moved in with their kids. That was the pattern for us older folks in past generations, but not any more. A few people in the burbs are still in their forever homes. Some managing on their own and others with help from their kids and hired helpers. Many friends of my suburban past moved to warmer climates and senior communities, as Bob and I did, when we all became empty nesters. I assume they are still there, if they are alive.
My mountain friends are a hearty bunch and many of them, with the possible help of nightly oxygen, are managing in their homes. If Bob and I had lived on an easier road to navigate in the winter, would we have remained? What would I have done after he died in 2010? Unanswerable questions, of course.
Living at my CCRC is as good as it gets for me. I live comfortably, I eat well and cook minimally. I was ready for that. On site I have opportunities to attend all sorts of events, lectures, parties, exercise classes and musical events. Something is always happening. If I choose, I can join others and be bused to a variety of entertaining and educational occurrences in the Denver area. The best part of my life here are my friends. New friends from all over the country often with very different pasts from mine, joining me in our Last Stop lifestyle.
It is probably the opportunity for this full social interaction that I find here that makes this type of living so different from other living choices. Added to this is the ease of managing my life as I get older. If I need a ceiling light bulb changed, I call maintenance. If I don’t feel well, I call the Dinning Room and my food is delivered. If I can’t open my mail order childproof pill containers I ask the concierge with younger hands and fingers to help me. And if my health or mind fails, there are facilities right here to take care of me.
Yes, there is always someone here who will willingly help me manage my life if it becomes more difficult with age. I have good kids who help me when I need to ask their help, but with this sort of living I seldom need to bother them. And with their full busy lives, it makes them happy to know their mother can be so independent.
So farewell dear readers. It’s been fun. Hopefully you will see my book, The Last Stop—Reflections on Senior Living by Margery Fridstein and you’ll recommend it to your friends or maybe read my slightly changed stories again.
My wished to all of you for a Merry Christmas and a happy 2016.
This post was written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist who lives in a CCRC outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”