Archive for the ‘Joan’s Journey’ Category

Joan’s Journey: That’s a Wrap!

joans-journey-last-postWelcome Joan’s Journeyers. Four years ago, on Dec. 22, 2011, Joan’s Journey to Senior Housing launched as a regular feature in‘s blog. Many roads were traveled, chronicled in my 38 Joan’s Journey’s posts. The journey included a decision to relocate, sell a condo, downsize, pack, move across country, and settle comfortably into life in a senior community.

Joan’s Journey has arrived at its destination—Holiday Villa East, an independent living residence in Santa Monica, California. With every arrival comes an ending. My Joan’s Journey chronicling concludes with this post. Thanks to, its management and editors for the awesome opportunity to share my journey with its online readers. Most of all, thank you Journeyers for your readership, questions, comments, and suggestions.

The goal of Joan’s Journey was to share the realities of my lifestyle changing from living alone in a condominium in a city suburbs to sharing life in a +55 residential community. With the assistance of the helpful family advisors, I identified the appropriate community to meet my personal and family criteria, as well as geographic location and budget requirements. The journey was not an easy one. Stumbling blocks and roadblocks appeared along the way. But as we near 2016, I am living happily in senior housing that is close to my children and grandchildren. The New Year beckons with many exciting journeys ahead.

As producers say in nearby Hollywood, “That’s a wrap” for Joan’s Journey to Senior Housing. For further conversations and sharing, visit my Joan London Facebook page, where Journeyers may message—and I will respond. From the staff of and myself, thank you for being part of Joan’s Journey. We hope that by chronicling my path, we have helped families understand the road to successful senior housing. Happy New Year, and remember to enjoy the trip day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children.

Joan’s Journey: Drivers Provide Enhanced Lifestyles to Seniors

joans-journeys-transportation-optionsWelcome Joan’s Journeyers. As I sat on the bench waiting for my Uber driver, I learned valuable information: some seniors and disabled Los Angeles County residents may ride the public transportation system for $0.50 and others may ride free of charge.

Moreover, Access, a Los Angeles County-wide door-to-door passenger transportation service, costs $2.75, one way. Even more economical, the Santa Monica home pickup Dial-a-Ride Service costs only $0.50 per trip. To use this service, users only need to apply to the agency and provide proof of residence, age or/or disability.

My source for these public transportation options was unexpected—a 94-year-old resident of Holiday Villa East, my senior living community in Santa Monica. The lovely lady, I’ll call Sophia, came strolling down the block with her walker. As she neared my bench, I noticed that a big smile lit up her face.

“Are you out for a walk?” I asked.

“No,” Sophia replied. “I’m returning from downtown Santa Monica. I needed a 2016 calendar. I went to Barnes & Noble.” The calendar was conveniently tucked away in the closed shelf on her walker.

Barnes & Noble is located at least 20 blocks from our mid-town community. I commented to Sophia that she had undertaken quite a walk. Her answer surprised me: she traveled by bus. A comfortable, ramp-enhanced bus stops at the corner of our street. In minutes, Sophia can reach the Santa Monica Main Library, two medical complexes with hospitals, shopping at the outdoor Third Street Promenade Mall and upscale Galleria. Another block and the bus stops at the beautiful Santa Monica Beach, with its abundance of restaurants and hotels along Ocean Drive and the Pacific Ocean.

I’m not certain which fact delighted me more—Sophia’s independence at 94 years or that her bus rides are free. I decided to learn more.

In the United States, transportation grants are distributed to the 50 states for funding programs to serve older adults. The U.S. Transportation for Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities (5310) grant is solely targeted for transportation services to seniors and adults with disabilities. The funding, distributed by the U.S. Department of Transportation through its Federal Transit Administration, is based upon the number of seniors and persons with disabilities residing in a state, according to the latest federal census data.

States receive and then allocate the funds by a grant or funding process. Recipients are nonprofit groups, government agencies when no nonprofits are available, and government agencies that coordinate transportation services. Some agencies provide transportation-only services. Others  offer transportation services and social services, including meals, operating senior centers, and legal aid. The first step to learning senior transportation options in each state is to inquire with the state’s Department of Aging.

For Seniors, Easier, Reduced Cost Transportation Options May Override Owning an Automobile

In lieu of owning or leasing an automobile, at least eight options exist.

  1. Ride with family and friends.
  2. Ride with van or auto provided by many senior residences.
  3. Ride with personal driver who works per hour or by assignment for client.
  4. Ride with traditional taxi drivers.
  5. Ride with discounted driver services like Uber and Lyft.
  6. Ride on public transportation such as local buses.
  7. Ride with transportation services sponsored by the U.S. Department of Aging in coordination with state and city agencies.
  8. Ride with nonprofit, community-based transportation services, such as ITNAmerica.

In terms of convenience and cost, my Driving Ms. Joan Experiment convinced me that leaving the driving to qualified others supersedes driving one’s own automobile. joans-journey-happy-holidaysTo learn more about the transportation services available to seniors, read our earlier blog post on Giving up the car key’s doesn’t have to affect your parent’s mobility.

The next Joan’s Journey will appear during the last week of 2015. Join me in taking a look back at 2015 and a look forward to 2016. In the meantime, enjoy the journey day by day. From the staff of and myself, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children.

Joan’s Journey: The Results of My Driving Ms. Joan Experiment

driving-ms-joan-resultsWelcome Joan’s Journeyers. In my opinion, giving up one’s car and agreeing to no longer drive, belongs on the stress scale with death of a loved one, divorce and moving. Each of these events is life changing. For me, handing over my car keys to the friendly dealership representative was like cutting off a body part. My keys, and the life they represented, have been a part of me since age 16. Saturday, June 13, 2015, will remain in my instant recall for the rest of my life.

I returned my car about noon, filled out the paperwork and looked around the dealership for the last time. The attendant took my keys and whisked away my lovely vehicle to be serviced and sold.

How did I cope those first days, how did I manage without a car and how am I doing now? Learn more about the results of the driving Ms. Joan experiment in Joan’s Journey, Part 36.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children and grandchildren.

Joan’s Journey: When Handing Over One’s Car Keys Is Not So Dreadful

joan-and-her-car-twoWelcome Joan’s Journeyers. Since June, my fabulous-fake designer purse is slightly less crowded. The absence of car keys has lightened my purse and elevated my bank account. Moreover, the heavy responsibilities of driving throughout greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area are the responsibility of professional drivers.

Since moving to my senior living community in Santa Monica nearly two years ago, my daughter Allison has been concerned about the complex, often dangerous driving on the roads and freeways. I am a excellent driver and am quite proud of my 54-year driving record. Allison’s concerns are the other drivers.

The leasing agreement on my comfortable sedan terminated last June. For months prior to the lease’s completion, Allison lobbied with her two brothers to convince me not to lease or buy another car. Their solution to LA driving was hiring drivers from Uber and Lyft, professional driving services that provide almost immediate door-to-door travel at a cost allegedly lower than traditional taxi rates.

For months I argued the virtues of driving my own car but received relentless insistence from my adult children that I consider a three-month trial of professional driving services. June 2015 arrived and my car lease expired. To stop their conjoling, I most unhappily agreed to the Driving Ms. Joan Experiment.

The Driving Ms. Joan Experiment

To determine whether these professional driving services actually saved me money, I decided to do a comparison of using these services instead of my own personal automobile. The factors I compared included:

  • Monthly driver costs versus leasing and/or owning vehicle, including monthly lease or purchase fees, gasoline, auto insurance, and auto maintenance
  • Safety of driver service vehicle and driver
  • Courtesy of professional driver and driving habits
  • Availability of driver when ordered
  • Length of time to pick up
  • Comfort of service automobile

In the next Joan’s Journey, I’ll share the surprising results of my Driving Ms. Joan Experiment, including an unexpected transportation perk of senior living. Until the next post, enjoy your journey day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children and grandchildren.

Joan’s Journey: Sentimental Value Does Matter When Downsizing

joan_and_boxesWelcome Joan’s Journeyers. I have a confession to make. I miss my cookie jar. Sound trite? In the big picture of life, missing one’s downsized and discarded cookie jar is a very insignificant matter. Yet on my Possessions I Miss From Downsizing list, my cookie jar ranks a 10 on a scale of 1-10.

Prior to moving to senior housing in January 2014, I thoughtfully, carefully and meticulously downsized my Baltimore condo of its non-essential belongings and furniture. For the two years my condo was for sale, I slowly donated or discarded stuff. I dropped off items at second-hand stores, resale shops, used-book markets, the Salvation Army and GoodWill Industries.

Yet about midpoint in downsizing, I discovered I still had far too many belongings to move across country. The process became daunting. I invested in an Organizer, a certified professional trained to efficiently establish a coherent, functional structure from a disjointed assortment of items.

A cheerful, lovely lady and her assistant visited my condo about six times in blocks of four hours. Prepared for the organizer’s visits, I had the living room, dining room and bedroom filled with boxes, bags and piles of Maybe and Maybe Not items. On the first visit, the organizer explored the near-ceiling high piles, and we planned the rest of her visits.

First we categorized items into Move, Not Move and Undecided. Criteria for each category depended upon the necessity, ease of replacement, movability and sentimentality of the item. We then shuffled through decades of loose photos in envelopes, framed pictures, artwork, collectibles like coffee mugs, knickknacks, mementos, linens, office supplies and cookware, like baking pans for cookies.

joan_and_downsizerThe organizer considered inexpensive dishware and entertainment pieces, such as ice buckets, candy dishes, cake plates and glassware, as breakable and easily, inexpensively replaced. For items with sentimental value, she suggested taking photographs with my mobile phone. I was kindly and gently encouraged NOT to be a hoarder.

Herein lies my problem—the discarding of my cooking jar as a non-essential, easily replaceable item was practical, appropriate and met the discard criteria. What was not acknowledged were the deep-rooted memories symbolically held inside the ceramic piece.

Bring Some HOME to Senior Living

Journeyers, months passed. I moved into my senior residence and invited a few friends to my unit for snacks and television viewing. Then, it hit me—almost like a panic attack—MY cookie jar is not here. It’s gone forever.

The rather nondescript, slightly chipped, off-white ceramic jar, trimmed and imprinted in blue with the word Cookies, was a wedding shower gift. Flashback 53 years. How much could a ceramic cookie jar cost then or to replace now? But dollar replacement value is not the point.

My cookie jar was famous throughout every neighborhood and city where I lived. Always filled with M&M cookies, chocolate chip cookies and other favorites, the jar was a beacon of welcome to young and old, family and friends. In days gone by, when school-age children played on sidewalks in front of their homes, dozens of little hands routinely reached into my humble cookie jar.

I served my new senior residence neighbors cookies on colorful paper plates which made cleanup simple. We had a lovely evening and no one but I knew MY signature cookie jar was missing. In time I may buy a new cookie jar, fill it with yummy cookies and make new memories. For now, the downsizing lesson I want to share is that not all non-essential, easily replaceable items, belong in the photograph and discard pile. HOME is where the heart is—it’s okay to bring some HOME with you.

Top 10 Non-Essential Items I Regret Downsizing

  1. Favorite, comfortable quilt
  2. Two favorite extra-large soft bath towels
  3. Two sets of dreamy high-quality sheet sets
  4. Favorite popcorn and chip bowls
  5. Favorite set of six wine glasses
  6. Assorted tools and office supplies
  7. Favorite cake plate and candy dish
  8. Set of six coffee mugs and plates
  9. Glass candlesticks, one slightly chipped

Have you or someone you know downsized and then regretted parting with an item? and I invite your comments on our Facebook page, Twitter and in the Comments section of Joan’s Journey. In November, Joan’s Journey will explore what my granddaughter Stella and her Girl Scout Troop in suburban Seattle learned about seniors and computer skills. Until the next post, enjoy your journey day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children and grandchildren.

Joan’s Journey: Successful Senior-Pet Ownership Part II: Caring and Sharing

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. There is nothing like a good story with a happy ending, and I have three tales to tell. Last blog Journeyers met Sylvia and Sassy. By asking for help from residents, friends, and the nearby veterinary clinic, Sassy received needed veterinary care and is thriving.

Tina and Mavia, a dear, handsome black rescue cat, flourish with continued outreach of ongoing pet services from their pet rescue adoption agency, the Sammy Foundation.

Mia, my former fabulous rescue cat, and her Daddy, Howard, share a good life as roommates in their comfortable Baltimore home. From Santa Monica, I have the frequent joy of streaming-live video with Howard and Mia. Why did I leave my healthy, adoring, beautiful Mia behind when cats are allowed at my senior living community? The answer is simple: I unconditionally love Mia, and I followed what my long-time and trusted Baltimore veterinarian advised.

Learn more about why Joan decided to re-home her beloved Mia and unexpectedly found a new friend to share her senior living experience in Joan’s Journey, Part 35.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children and grandchildren.

Joan’s Journey: Planning is Key to Senior-Pet Ownership

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. More often than I care to watch, I see television infomercials showing abused and neglected domestic pets. These commercials bring near-tears to my eyes and pain in my heart. Fortunately, however, I have never personally witnessed animal abuse. However, since moving to a senior living community, I am aware of unintentional pet neglect despite the best intentions of everyone involved.

Renee, my floor neighbor and first friend at Holiday Villa EAST in Santa Monica,  admired Heather, a kitten I rescued from a cattery. A few months later, Renee rescued a kitten of her own. Renee and Tova bonded and became best buddies. Shortly thereafter, Renee became ill, was hospitalized and died suddenly and unexpectedly. Renee’s son lives overseas and her grandchild lives in another U.S. city.

Her Mommy sadly gone, Tova was alone in Renee’s unit with no one prearranged to care for her. Kind residents and a caring aide quickly responded to ensure that Tova had the basics of food, water, kitty litter and brief human companionship. Sill, it took weeks to find a new home for the kitten. One rehoming failed and Tova was returned to Renee’s room. Finally, in what seemed like forever to the pet-loving residents of our senior living community, our lonely feline found a home. Because she was still a kitten, she was more adoptable than a senior cat.

Learn more about why Joan says seniors who own pets should plan ahead to ensure their pets receive will care should the unexpected happen in Joan’s Journey, Part 34.

Joan’s Journey: Why Seniors Should Reconsider Pet Ownership

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. As a devoted pet owner, I know personally that pets offer unconditional love, help ease loneliness and give owners a sense of belonging. I lived with and loved domestic animals and birds throughout my life. When dogs and cats were forbidden in my apartment complexes, I substituted one or two sweet singing parakeets. My experiences with pets are so positive that until I moved to senior housing at Holiday Villa East in Santa Monica, I thought that seniors who desired to be pet owners should be so.

Yet living in a senior community for the past 18 months has drastically changed my mind, and I have arrived at a controversial and potentially upsetting opinion—not all seniors should bring their beloved pets when joining a senior living community or adopt new pets to replace animals who pass away.

Prior to leaving Baltimore, I made the painful decision to re-home my precious rescue cat Mia, who was my housemate and best feline friend for seven years. Tears are in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I recall the events leading to this toughest of decisions. Furthermore, I have witnessed the hurt, dismay and loss that is experienced by community residents who have given up their pets.

In my next Joan’s Journey, I will explain why I left Mia in Baltimore and why a careful consideration to re-home – not relocate – one’s pet is needed. In addition, anecdotes of animal neglect by seniors who truly love their pets, but are unable to adequately meet their basic needs, reinforce the justification to limit pet ownership in senior communities.

I am not advocating pet-less lives in senior communities. In fact, after six months of settling into senior living, I adopted a fluffy, sweet, fun, four-month-old feline princess, Heather, who is being raised to embrace the new lifestyle I lead. Join me in the next Joan’s Journey as we explore suggested criteria for successful pet ownership at senior living.

Do you or a senior in your life own a pet? What responsibilities does pet ownership entail when you’re a senior? and I invite your comments on our Facebook Web site, on Twitter, and in the Comments section of Joan’s Journey. Until the next post, enjoy your journey day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children and grandchildren.

Joan’s Journey: How to Find Harmony in Senior Living

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. As I age, simple pleasures have more meaning and are ever so cherished. For example, a few nights ago, my lifelong friend Ellen came to share dinner with me at Holiday Village East (HVE). The decision was last minute.

Ellen’s daughter Deanna and her friends were headed to a free summer concert on the Pier at Santa Monica beach. Ellen and I discussed joining the gals but decided our senior joints preferred chairs to beach blankets. My dining table chairs settled our dinner plans.

Having guests for dinner at HVE involves a phone call with a selection of food choices to the front desk staff. For a nominal $5 fee per person, guests are welcome in the dining room or one’s apartment. Ellen arrived, dinner was delivered, and we enjoyed our effortless meal of a fresh garden salad, spaghetti, meatballs, cauliflower, garlic bread and chocolate ice cream.

We finished dinner and retreated to my balcony where we watched the beautiful sunset turn from sky blue to adobe pink to ink black. When the Pacific Ocean breezes turned chilly, we moved inside and enjoyed watching television together until Deanna arrived to take Ellen home.

Learn more about how Joan is one of the lucky seniors, because she is functioning at Maslow’s Level 5: Self-Actualization in Joan’s Journey, Part 33.

Joan’s Journey: How Aging Can Affect Family Dynamics

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. Once upon a time, not very long ago, an elderly man and an elderly woman moved into to my senior living community, Holiday Villa East (HVE) in Santa Monica. Arthur and Gretchen, as I have named them, moved to HVE on the same week. They both had lost spouses and were in declining mental and physical health. Our protagonists quickly settled into life at HVE and all was well—or was it?

I have a tale to tell, a true tale told recently to me by Sam Rosenberg, executive director of HVE. The moral of Rosenberg’s story, which I agree with, is key to understanding the complex components to successful senior living when close to family.

Gretchen, 85, had a daughter Gloria, who was her closest relative and Rosenberg’s family contact. Arthur, also 85, had a son James. Likewise, James was his Dad’s family contact. Initially, both adult children routinely visited their parents.

As time went by, Gretchen and Arthur’s health diminished. On days when James visited, Arthur was foulmouthed, even downright nasty to his son. This behavior is a well-known symptom of some forms of dementia. Despite the outbursts, James faithfully visited his dad, each time arriving with personal items, favorite foods and small surprises. One afternoon while James visited, Arthur’s behavior was particularly offensive. An aide called Rosenberg to Arthur’s unit.

Rosenberg recalls asking James why he continued to visit his dad when his father was consistently rude and disrespectful. James answered simply, “Because he’s my Dad!” Arthur lived a long and comfortable life in harmony with his surroundings and son.

Gretchen’s story isn’t so pleasant. As time passed, Gretchen refused to dress stylishly, fix her hair or wear makeup. Her behavior was symptoms of her worsening physical and mental conditions. Gloria, on the other hand, arrived for visits bedecked for a red carpet event. Dismayed by her mother’s behavior, Gloria insisted that Gretchen improve her appearance. When the pleading and insistence, and then criticism failed to change her mother’s behavior, Gloria visited Rosenberg’s office. “This is my last visit,” she declared. Taken aback, Rosenberg asked why. Gloria answered simply, “Because she’s not my Mother anymore.”

Gloria said funds for her mother’s rent, personal care and physical needs would be sent monthly, but family would no longer visit. Rosenberg recalls sadly that Gretchen, a sweet and gentle woman whose face lit up when her family visited, never again saw her daughter, grandchildren or great grandchildren. The sparkle left Gretchen’s eyes and she died alone.

Joan’s Journeyers, why am I sharing Rosenberg’s tale?

In last month’s, Joan’s Journey post, Rosenberg and I referred to motivational psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory. The theory proposes five variable levels: 1) basic life needs of air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, and sleep; 2) security, order, law, limits, and stability; 3) family, affection, relationships, work and groups; 4) achievement, status, responsibility, and reputation; and 5) personal growth and fulfillment. Lower level needs must be met before fulfilling needs at a higher level.

In the upcoming Joan’s Journey, I will explore Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as it relates to the tale of Arthur, Gretchen and other seniors. In addition, I will consider the pros and cons of seniors moving to a senior living community close to their children. Until the next Joan’s Journey, enjoy the trip day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children and grandchildren.