I'm 72. Who's Going to Take Care of Me?
In answering the title question,"Who is going to take care of me?', you may say, "Why, you, of course." As determined as we are to remain independent, the time surely comes when there are things we just can't do.
So, what happens when I can no longer walk to the mail box? -Or, my husband can no longer mow the lawn? Who will be there when I've fallen and can't get up? Hopefully, my children will be there at least some of the time.
"What about your savings?" you say. Even if the elderly have socked away a fair amount of money, they will still need help.That money will only go so far. There is always the fear that they will outlive their savings.I have witnessed the anxiety that some have over whether there will be enough to last their life time. My Dad had plenty in his accounts, but he lived frugally.Seniors would rather save it up for big expenses like rest homes, etc. Spending it on yard care may seem superfluous.
Father and Son
Many Children Do Help
I know many children do help their aging parents. Many live nearby and look out for them on a weekly, if not daily , basis. These people love their parents and are to be commended. It has been a tradition in the U.S., as well as other countries, to look after our parents. In many cultures the elderly are revered and respected. Unfortunately, the myth of youth worship has taken hold in the U.S.
I fear the tradition of taking care of our parents is waning. Some children no longer feel it is their obligation to look after their parents. One of my children told me, "You're on your own, Mom."
A Mobile Population
Children often move from their home town in the pursuit of a job. While this is often necessary, it often alienates the elderly parent. My own children live on two different coasts, far away from me. Travel ,for us, has become difficult physically as well as monetarily.
Our children also are limited by finances and by busy schedules.It is difficult to juggle work schedules, school schedules, and sports. Fnding the time and money for a vacation is a trial for them.
So, What To Do?
Is there an answer to this dilemma? Perhaps a more careful organization of finances would be in order for these children. Of course, that depends on their devotion to their parents and how often they would want to visit them. Their motivation is the key.
What can the elderly parent do? I have a few suggestions:
Become involved. Go regularly to your community senior center. there are classes offered there that will teach you skills and increase your knowledge. I, personally take a water color class and a ukelele class.You will learn of services there that may help you. It will also alleviate loneliness.
Go to church. You will make many friends of all ages. There will be some who will help you when needed. Don't be afraid to ask.
Join neighborhood groups. There are often gardening clubs, book clubs, etc. where you will meet people who will be concerned about your welfare. Getting to know your neighbors is a good thing. There will be someone who will be willing to help you in time of need. You may also find children who are willing to mow your lawn or do light housework for not very much money.
Volunteer your services in the community. Service is a great way to forget yourself. Once again, you will make friends. Others will learn to like you and will be available if you need them.
If living gets too difficult for the older person, it is time to consider alternative care. This doesn't necessarily mean a rest home. That would be the last resort. There are several options before we get to that point.
There are more and more housing situations being built for the 55 and up group. Independent living complexes offer amenities that would greatly alleviate the hardships that crop up among the elderly. There are two of these facilities in my own community. They offer independent apartments with many services also provided. Some of these services are: meals , housekeeping,transportation, cable and internet, exercise rooms, and easy access to the facility(no stairs or steps). They also offer camaraderie and activities. One even has a beauty shop.
Other Names for Independent Living
Other common names for independent living include:
- Retirement communities
- Retirement homes
- Congregate care
- 55+ or 62+ communities
- Active adult communities
- Senior apartments or senior housing
- Continuing Care Retirement Community
A Quote..Helpguide. org says...
"Independent Living for Seniors
Choosing a Retirement Home or Retirement Facility
As we age, many of us are faced with the prospect of revising our living arrangements. If you feel overwhelmed by home upkeep, cut off from transport and social amenities, or simply want more companionship with others your age, an independent living facility or retirement home may be a good option. While moving is always stressful, by planning ahead and giving yourself time and space to cope with change, you can enjoy your independence and thrive in your new home.
What is independent living?
Independent living is simply any housing arrangement designed exclusively for seniors, generally those aged 55 and over. Housing varies widely, from apartment-style living to freestanding homes. In general, the housing is friendlier to older adults, often being more compact, with easier navigation and no maintenance or yard work to worry about.
While residents live independently, most communities offer amenities, activities, and services. Often, recreational centers or clubhouses are available on site to give seniors the opportunity to connect with peers and participate in community activities, such as arts and crafts, holiday gatherings, continuing education classes, or movie nights. Independent living facilities may also offer facilities such as a swimming pool, fitness center, tennis courts, even a golf course or other clubs and interest groups. Other services offered in independent living may include onsite spas, beauty and barber salons, daily meals, and basic housekeeping and laundry services.
Since independent living facilities are aimed at older adults who need little or no assistance with activities of daily living, most do not offer medical care or nursing staff. As with regular housing, though, you can hire in-home help separately as required."
Types of Independent Living Facilities*
Low income or subsidized housing- government housing for low income seniors
Senior apartments-apartment complexes restricted by age. Many services are included. (As listed above)
Retirement Homes-Groups of housing units for those over 55. They can be single homes, mobile homes, townhouses, or condos.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities- If you anticipate health problems in the future, you may want to consider this option. If residents begin to need more help the facility is prepared to upgrade their care.
*info gleaned from Helpguide.org.
Is Independent Living Right For Me?*
Questions to ask yourself:
How easy is it for me to maintain my current house?
Is is difficult to connect with friends and family?- Independent living facilities give you a built in network of peers. Many provide field trips and other activities.
How easy is it for me to get around?-Many of these facilities offer transportation.
How is my health?-Can you manage the activities of daily living? Showering , dressing,eating?
Who will take care of Me?
The ultimate answer, as you suspected, is ME! But, not without good planning, good judgement and the help of good children, friends, and neighbors. Please watch for my next article. I will be entering an independent living facility and will report on what I find there.