Let’s begin with food. Most all of us eat breakfast at home. However, residents and their guests can buy an excellent and inexpensive morning meal served in the dining room if they choose to do so. I have done this a few times and also have entertained visiting guests for breakfast.
Daily lunch or dinner is included in our monthly assessment. I seldom eat lunch in the dining room, but occasionally I will go to the salad bar and carry out. In contrast, my neighbor and many of her friends prefer eating lunch instead of dinner; the room is less crowded, it’s more informal and they like eating their big meal at noon. My choice is a 6 p.m. dinner reservation, though many eat as early as 4:30 p.m. when the dining room first opens for dinner so they can have a full evening of TV favorites in their apartment after they dine. If I don’t make a reservation, I can eat in the bar, which is informal and has a different menu from the dining room. I like wearing jeans in the bar. While the men do not have to wear jackets or ties, nice dinner attire is expected to be worn by both men and women in the dining room. No jeans allowed.
Anyone can take out. Some people seldom eat in the dining room, preferring to eat at home. All that is required is a call to order and later pick up the meal. If someone is ill, the dining room will deliver food free of charge. I would have to pay $5 for a delivery if I just felt lazy.
I have chosen the 21-meal-a-month plan, which allows a slight refund on my monthly assessment. I like to fix my own food sometime. This is slightly complicated because I no longer have a full fridge for spur-of-the-moment decisions and I don’t wish to make a special trip to the store. My solution is to cook full recipes of dishes I like and store individual portions in the freezer. In contrast, one of my friends has her supply of Lean Cuisines to supplement her meal plan. I also have a friend who has lived here as long as I and prides herself in not knowing how to turn on her oven. To each her own.
And what happens the rest of the day? Mornings are filled with varying levels of exercise classes. I go to the Advanced Aerobics class on Monday and Wednesday; also Monday Yoga class and Saturday Zumba class. I belong to a monthly writers’ group and a monthly book club. I play duplicate bridge on Saturday. Invited experts offer a broad choice of educational lectures, which I can attend if I chose. Additionally, there is often a weekly lecture series presented by a resident who is knowledgeable in a particular field. We have some very interesting folks living among us who have lots to share. Besides the in-house activities, there are two buses and two vans and drivers available to take residents to interesting historical, athletic and cultural shows and events. These buses are also available to take residents to evening concerts and theater as well as “out to dinner” and “out to lunch” outings. For the residents who no longer drive, vans take them to their medical appointments, the hairdresser, shopping and whatever their needs are within a 10-mile radius. For a fee, if a driver and vehicle are available, a resident can go farther. When I travel, if I plan in advance, I can usually hire a driver to the airport.
3. Home Time
If I am not dining and not attending an activity, what is life like? It’s nice. My two-bedroom, two-bath apartment is delightfully comfortable. After downsizing twice, the furniture and kitchen supplies fit well and my place is right for me. Weekly maid service is provided and a sweet woman spends an hour cleaning for me every Tuesday morning. I am particularly lucky because Maria moved from cleaning the Cottages to cleaning in the Lodge the same time I moved to the Lodge, so we have been together for over five years. All of the Lodge apartments have a balcony or a deck and now that it is summer, I love spending time out there watching the beautiful Colorado sun set over the mountains. My plants like it out there too, and they are thriving. Because the apartments were specifically designed for older adults, features include raised toilets; large bathrooms to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs, emergency pull cords, and an emergency electrical outlet in case of a power outage. While I do not yet need these special features, it makes me secure to know they are there.
Some form of technology sends all sorts of programming to our individual apartment TVs. I can turn on Channel 22 and watch movies that are being shown in the Centennial room or get all the pertinent information about what is going on at this place. As a writer, I tend to spend significant blocks of time at my computer in my guest bedroom, which is my office.
It appears that this building has been built with very strong walls, because with all the hearing-impaired people around here, I never hear any noises from my neighbors’ apartment. Maybe that’s because my hearing isn’t so wonderful either.
Romance is fun to watch. Grandma meets Grandpa. They like each other and after a while they become a couple. It’s so nice when it happens. I have two widowed friends who have found happy male connections. Each continues to live in her own apartment. In both of those situations they travel as a couple and spend lots of time together here. There is another couple that started spending time together after his wife died. This woman had been a widow for 12 years. They married and she moved into his apartment. And another story—at the dinner table the other night, a friend told us about her 93-year-old sister who lives in a different retirement community. After the death of her long invalided husband she met a man her age with whom she fell in love and is with him all the time. In this case, it’s Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa newly in love. And then there are my unmarried next-door neighbors who met at a retirement community that they did not like and moved to ours with the plan to share an apartment as friends for economic reasons.
Back on Father’s Day in June, all my children called and reminisced of their father. I do miss Bob. However, if there was a male that was right for me, I think it would be wonderful. Although I doubt that I would give up my autonomy and move in with anyone—and I sure would not marry—it would be nice to be a couple again and be part of the couple’s world.
Written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist specializing in child development. Margery currently lives in a continuing care retirement community outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her senior living experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”