This is the final installment on my mother’s journey from living independently to living in a senior living community.
My mother and stepfather agonized over whether it was time for them to move into a senior living community. They both love their house, their neighborhood and the friends they see every day at their warm-water pool. They love walking to church then to Saul’s and the Cheeseboard along Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. But they had already put a down payment on an apartment in a community within a beautiful old building situated right on Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA. Money is money.
My stepfather is ready, but my mother still has mixed feelings. She is apprehensive about surrendering to “institutional life.” She is afraid, frankly, of being shut into “the home” which is her shorthand for being put away in the old folks’ home never to be heard from again.
As a compromise, they have decided to go ahead and make the move on a trial basis. They are moving into the apartment for two months and then will assess whether to make the move permanent. In the meantime, they will keep their house—just in case.
There wasn’t time to get emotional. The movers arrived early in the morning and wrapped and carried away a lifetime of possessions. Everything was on the van except a few kitchen spices I brought home.
The building of their new apartment has two sets of stairs to reach the front door. This is not a CCRC with no-threshold showers and no stairs. It’s not what my mother initially said she was looking for. So when the time comes where she will need more care, she will either hire it from a local home care agency or move to a place that has levels of care.
It is a beautiful building with tall ceilings, decorated archways and large windows overlooking Lake Merritt. When I walked up to the lobby, the first thing I saw was a sign next to the elevator welcoming them. Yes, it is significantly smaller than the house they had been living in for the past 20 years but they now have a lovely view of the Lake.
I helped them get their TV and internet service up and running. The internet is a lifeline for Mom. She is almost tethered to her iPad. Next week, the community is having a welcoming party for them. The pianist who drops by a few times per week will be there playing Nat King Cole tunes. It will take place in the community dining room which is actually a restaurant that overlooks Lake Merritt. Having an actual restaurant to dine with friends and family rather than a senior living dining hall remains a huge selling point for this community.
This is not what my mother said she wanted at onset of this journey but they are in their new home and have begun to get to know the community and the neighborhood. Their dog, Harry, gets regular walks around the Lake. He is getting used to sharing the path with the geese that live there.
Was this the right decision?
Only my mother and stepfather can make that judgment. I wish them well.
SGD is a full-service Bay Area advertising, marketing, branding and public relations agency specializing in seniors, boomers and adult children. In addition to working with new senior living communities, we’ve repositioned, rebranded and relaunched senior living communities in California, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia attaining occupancy rates of 90% or more in very competitive markets.
About the Author: Duff Reiter is an Account Director / Planner at SGD Advertising specializing in senior / boomer, healthcare, lifestyle, financial, travel / leisure and technology brands since 1984.