Eldercare Where?

Now is the time to instill a great respect for elders into our youth. When my great-grandchild solemnly approaches and begs to know how I have retained my wisdom, zen, and flowing hair, I will deign to tell her.

“Facebook,” I will say.  And also, “Photoshop.”

At the moment, however, my kids regularly discuss the day when they will “prop me up in the Old Folks Home”. Especially right after an argument. “Just you wait,” they say cheerfully, “We will put a poster of Fiji in the window and you won’t know any different.” They pat me on the head. “You’ll be so happy.”

Conversations like this are why I have a friend like Brenda-Lee.

“Can they do that?” I ask her over a glass of Pinot Grigio.

She laughed. Then she reminded me that I am (and will be in the entire foreseeable future) a grown adult and can do what I want. Some people retire, sell their house, buy a camper, and drive all over the country living the vida loca. And some of us move to India. But if you are looking for somewhere local to hang your hat, and the spacious house where you live is no longer serving it’s purpose, then it’s time to go home hunting.

Brenda-Lee is a senior placement advisor; she helps families identify options when they are trying to decide if and where an elder in the family may need to move, whether it be independent or assisted living arrangements. (For example, click here.) Her skillset is free to families, so I sat down for a chat.

Here are some concerns that usually open the conversations between generations:

  • Is there a risk of falling? Can 911 be easily called or are emergency pendants or call alerts needed? Are railings, etc installed in the home?
  • Are medications confusing or forgotten? Who is keeping medical records updated?
  • Is personal hygiene declining? Is there a significant weight loss? Are meals being skipped because of effort involved or lack of company or variety? Are particular dietary needs being met?
  • Is there opportunity to continue staying active or attend fitness programs or the pool? What about hobbies, educational, or cultural activities? Are volunteer opportunities available?
  • Do bills or laundry or dishes pile up? Is home maintenance neglected? Have utilities been disconnected? Is there a need for a gardener or housekeeper?
  • Has driving become slower or are traffic signals missed? Is relying on or arranging transportation for appointments, errands or outings a challenge? Is there pushback to “not be a bother”?
  • Is there a higher risk of being victim to a crime? Are strangers let in the home or personal information given over the phone?
  • Are there frequent phone calls because of a fear of being alone?
  • Or perhaps there are less phone calls as isolation or depression creeps in? Are social functions being missed and friendships dropped? Do neighbors still chat over the fence?
  • Will there have to be a move regardless, in order for family members to be closer to each other?
  • Does it make more financial sense to modify the home and hire help or to sell the home and address all of the concerns in one community living area?

She’s got some valid points. From where I’m sitting, it sounds like living in an all-inclusive resort, only it comes with a maid.

Take my money. Or rather, take my kids’ money. And they can take me to Fiji on the side.

The little smarty-pants.

But – like all of our January articles insist – moving is a life transition that no one takes lightly. There is a period of mourning over how things were and a hopeful anticipation of how things will be, regardless of the circumstances.

I will leave you to your own conversations and please do share any advice you may have.  If you would like to chat with Brenda-Lee, too, about moving in the San Diego area, click here.

(Meanwhile, click on any of my other links because life goes on, my Tribe, and I insist you have a laugh over it.)

Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. Isaiah 46:4
The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

I Love Moving, Said No One Ever

Welcome to the third week of January, where we are addressing the larger question of “Why in the world would I move on purpose?” and the smaller question of “How many boxes does it take to contain college textbooks from 1992?”

When my girlfriend moved from SoCal to Missouri, a moving company showed up on her doorstep, packed the entire contents of her house including the cats, and re-fluffed the lot in her new and much colder home.

When I moved five miles across town, I packed the precious contents of my house for maybe five minutes before tossing every other item into the donation pile. It was easier for the Goodwill to store my belongings until I got my bearings in the new house. And by bearings I mean staring into a box labeled, “kitchen” and seeing a plastic chicken.

You don’t know what’s important until you have to move it.

True to the rules we laid out, let me put it to you like this:

  1. Identify the transition:
    1. I moved my family from our home of 22 years to one with a staircase in it.
  2. And its little pile of emotional baggage:
    1. I feel that houses should not come with staircases. This is, and you may quote me, a “bummer”.
  3. Here are my Pros and Cons:
    1. Pro: Free exercise for buns and thighs.
    2. Con: Not being able to see my feet when carrying items on said staircase.
  4. This is worth remembering:
    1. Buns do not enjoy landing hard on a stair edge.

To get a better idea of my wildly swinging pendulum of emotions when attempting to move, read this.

Meanwhile, let’s hear your thoughts.

PS: What is the expiration date on college textbooks? Ten years? Twenty? Just because they aren’t in the fridge doesn’t mean they won’t grow mold. Don’t ask how I know this.

Of the making of books (and other clutter) there is no end. Ecc 12:12
The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

Leaving Home for College

Good morning everyone and welcome to our next installment in the January series on “Moving”. Today we are going straight to the experts for advice about the transition when Little Johnny moves away to college.

As far as I can tell, I have successfully sent three children to college while managing to keep them living at home. The fourth kid is up for grabs but unless the right college grabs him, I will have the honor of four college graduates and zero dorm experiences.

On the other hand, I also have a kid with nothing but dorm experiences and zero college degrees.

There are pros and cons.

But I am obviously not an expert.

I watched a coworker send her son to another state for college and he was homesick and she was optimistic and the week before winter finals that boy got the flu. His entire building got the flu. He called her from the floor of his room and she did what every sensible mom would do: she overnighted him a case of Gatorade, and begged him to pass his finals.

That Christmas break, he came home and refused to leave.

Meanwhile, I know a few Little Johnnys who have managed to go back after Christmas break, and I have some nuggets of wisdom from the moms who survived it:

  1. Believe they are adults. You raised them right and it’s all in there. When needed, your voice is in their head even if it’s screaming “Dumb*ss!” Which will happen many, many times in the first year.
  2. The campus life schedule (especially in a dorm) is not the same as the class schedule. It’s erratic and unscheduled. This means calling home is not a priority! We made a deal to not bother them if they simply called every Sunday to check in. And they did.
  3. College and living away is tough and there are calls home that make you want to rush in and take care of it . Having to give phone advice and help them through life from a distance is HARD and a whole new perspective. This is a reminder to empower and encourage. Follow up with a full glass of wine (coping measure).
  4. Join the parent group on Facebook. Most don’t allow students in so you get to share the feels and get insider info too! I missed this with my first student, but found it with my second. Ours has moderators that have links to info, Senior parents armed with experience in the trenches, invited guests like the Chief of Campus Police, support from parents who live locally and even an Uber driver file. (This is) your support while the student insists they “got this” lol!
  5. Learn what Venmo is and join – this is how roommates share expenses, lunch dates share the check and Mom sends money for a much needed frappacino after a hard test.
  6. I also completely support getting in on the college sports team fun!
  7. It’s that hard realization that they live somewhere else, and have a life outside of you and the small family you had together with all of your kids when they were little. That day in and day out you don’t know what they’re doing, how they’re doing, and that they’re doing it apart from you.
  8. I guess you wonder will they come back and will it ever be the same? But it will never be the same even when they do come home because they are adults now. They leave with their childhood and return with a form of adulthood. I guess that’s how it’s meant to be: it’s the end of an era.
  9. Wow, I didn’t expect the intensity of the sorrow of saying goodbye to him as we send him back across the country today. It almost seems worse than the first time we did this last fall. I’m so thankful that he’s happy and thriving in his college environment, I can’t imagine how hard this would be if he weren’t.
  10. I also thought that it would be easier to say goodbye to them once they left for the first time, but every time they come home for winter break or spring break or summer break it’s equally hard to say goodbye as they go back to school. I feet sad every time. 
  11. I think of how it must feel to be my parents standing on that step, watching their heart go away again and again. I can physically feel the pain of time passing in my body, and it makes me realize how valuable beyond riches it has been to spend these special days together in our cherished home.
  12. And lest these feels and formulas be a wee too much, here is the only idea I had prepared for this moment. A mom has to do what a mom has to do.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecc 3
The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

Stalked by the Empty Nest

Well, this is it, the moment we were all waiting for: The Day the Middle Child Moves Out.

My daughters have signed a lease on a little rental for the year of our Lord, 2019, and although I am rejoicing at this next step towards raising independent strong adults, I am also standing frozen in my closet, a blouse in each hand, traumatized at the realization that I will be the only female left in a house full of testosterone.

Ready or not, the winds of change are blowing and it’s going to take an industrial sized bottle of Febreeze to get me through.

2019 is therefore dedicated to opening some conversations. Maybe some hard ones. I need help with these feels and fuzzies. I am happy and sad and worried and proud and celebratory and lonely. My nest isn’t empty just yet. It’s ridiculous. I have a big pile of feels and nowhere to swoon.

The Forgetful Files to the rescue. Our motto is “Everything Worth Remembering” and with all of the change coming around the corner this January, we need to remember Rule Number One:

Remain Calm!

We are turning our blog into a type of forum on transitions and everyone is invited to participate in the Comment box.

Because, girlfriend therapy.

For January, let’s discuss moving house, whether across town, like my family did five years ago, or across the planet, as some of my crazy rellies have done.

Jan 6th: everyone else moving and leaving you in an empty nest
Jan 13th: moving from home to college
Jan 20th: moving from house to house
Jan 27th: moving from home to an elder care facility

I was mourning the loss of accessible auxiliary jewelry (not that I could find whatever I wanted in the drifts of her cyclone-decorated room, but the good stuff was usually on the top pile) when I heard my girls discussing their imminent move.

“You’re keeping your hair drier in your room,” said one, “I don’t need it and the bathroom is teeny tiny.”

“We need a bookshelf. That’s top of the list.”

“People have to take off their shoes in the house.”

“Yeah, and no dirty dishes left in the sink.”

It gives me great satisfaction to say, “I told you so.” Kid number three, she who will not be hangered, the Queen of Quite a Lot, the distributor of flotsam in every corner of the house, was preparing a Pre-Nup in tidy little lines.

Perspective is everything, and there is nothing like moving houses to find it.

Pro: Middle Child finally cares about tidiness.
Con: I will not have access to her cute shoes either. Argh.

Please share thoughts below on an emptying nest; they are uniquely yours, and – happily for the rest of us – universal.

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young… Psalm 84:3

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!