Assisted Living and Loving It

margeWhen it comes to senior living options these days all I can say is, “We’ve come a long way, baby!” I’ve become quite familiar with the assisted living scene in recent years since some grandparents and fogey friends of mine have moved into such facilities and I’ve helped with moving and visited often.

All these people initially resisted moving from home into a new place and I completely get that. Home is home, and like Dorothy said over and over while clicking her blingy footwear, there’s no place like it. Home is comfortable, familiar, and full of memories.

Change is hard, especially as you get older I’m quickly learning, and uprooting from all that you know to be waited on hand and foot in a finely furnished flat with a full activity schedule and chauffeur services is an adjustment. I’m just saying, while it may not be home, some of those suites are pretty sweet.

What I’ve realized as I’ve watched loved ones face this life transition is they’re haunted by images in their heads of facilities of yesteryear. They tell childhood tales of going to visit great aunts in Gothic asylums with bars on the windows, bare walls, sparse furnishings in cramped rooms with stoic staff pacing the halls. The aged, sick and disturbed were all housed together and treated alike.

When I was a teenager my mother made me raise my right hand and swear when she got old I wouldn’t put her in “A Home,” she’d say with a shudder. It’s a sick irony that putting an “a” in front of the word that describes the most endearing place on earth twists the meaning to describe a cold, horrific facility of neglect and torture for the old and invalid. And in the past that’s what they were (and maybe still are some places).

But from what I’ve seen, it’s not like that anymore. There are different living options customized according to independence level and care need which can be modified as situations change. Some of these digs are downright luxurious. Like a Carnival cruise ship docked on fifty acres of manicured lawn. Which brings me to another feasible, if eccentric, option to consider for senior living.

While we’ve greatly improved conditions and options for living out the golden years, it does come at a gilded price. But I recently learned of a pair of widow pals who worked the numbers and calculated that continual cruising was cheaper per month than care center living.

Yeah, they have to live out of suitcases and do some boat hopping, but they get to play bingo on the lido deck instead of in the common area and take excursions to Mazatlon rather than the mall. There are buffets, entertainment, activities, fitness facilities, classes, spas, salons, shops and even medical care. And who knows, maybe those smart old broads are even recouping costs at the craps table.

Yep, things are definitely looking up during the years of going downhill. If it’s inevitable that I’ll end up wandering around naked unable to remember my name anyway, all the better it happens on a nude beach on an remote island, right?

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