The dream is to age in the comfort of your own home. Unfortunately, that is merely a dream to many aging individuals. A simple staircase, one they ran up and down ten years ago, becomes an insurmountable obstacle after a couple of falls. As their bodies fail them, their functionality dwindles.
My fiercely independent mother fell and broke her hip last April. That fall precipitated a series of heart-wrenching realities ultimately resulting in a move to an independent facility last August. Her home was everything. She fought a valiant battle to hold on even as the multi-level home she so loved became her prison.
The decision to move my mom to an independent facility was not made easily. With her own home clearly a safety risk at every turn and the falls coming more and more frequently, the decision to move her to the safest possible environment seemed mission critical to everyone but her. The cost of reliable, monitored 24/7 in-home care was astronomical and would have turned her into an invalid, since she couldn’t move from level to level without a great deal of assistance.
We were so fortunate to find a wonderful independent facility that seemed ideal for her. The place is an architectural dream. The food is exceptional and they even have a cozy little bar. They understand the need for a full and active lifestyle. No mention is made of seniors or aging, she’s not in ‘the home,’ she’s in ‘the lodge.’ So life should be a dream – right?
Not exactly. Once the reality of losing her home sunk in, mom fell into depression. For the most part, she refused to help in any decisions related to the move. That was tough because moving from an 8,000 square foot home into an independent apartment meant a lot of decisions had to be made. Most of the time my sister, my husband and I worked to sell the house and get her moved, she spent arguing with us and insisting she was going nowhere.
For my mom, losing her home meant losing control.
Today, she is trying to acclimate to her new lifestyle. There are many things she really likes about her new environment. She’s met some lovely people and no longer suffers from the isolation of being snowed in by herself for days. In reality, is she safer? I’d like to think so, but she has fallen several times since the move and spent the bulk of Thanksgiving weekend in the hospital after breaking her cheekbone, her ribs and her kneecap.
Sometimes I ask myself if we made the right decision. I have absolutely no doubt that she could not stay in her house alone, but I have to wonder if the emotional toll of uprooting her was too high of a price to pay.
At any rate, at least once a week, my mom hits me with a pointed comment such as “too bad no one thought to pack any of my earrings and move them out here.” I’m just starting to realize my best response is “Let’s go shopping next week and buy you some new earrings, mom.”