Last week we met my in-laws for lunch at a new retirement community in town. This time, they're really interested...they think.
As you may recall, my in-laws (90 and 95 years old) have been fighting the idea of leaving their home, despite becoming more and more bored, lonely, depressed, overwhelmed by home maintenance - all those things that signal the rest of us that it's time to do something different. They would, we all believe (all the kids, that is) love all of the social activities and new friends at a retirement community.
So we've been gently, and not so gently, encouraging this step.
Now the plumbing is going in the house, and it just might be the final straw.
As we were touring the building, I kept telling my mother-in-law, "This is a step UP, not a step down. Think about what you're gaining, not what you're giving up."
She looked around at the beautiful new building, complete with a dining room, maid service, maintenance and names they recognized on the doors of neighboring apartments and sighed, "You're right. If I can just get my brain to think that way - I know you're right, but old ways of thinking are hard to change."
She's right, of course. Old ways of thinking ARE hard to change. We're so programmed in our culture to focus on trying to keep older people in their own homes that sometimes we don't see when it would be a step UP for them to leave their homes.
All I want, as a family member, is to see them actively enjoy whatever years they have left. And they're not likely to do that feeling like their home is an anchor and an isolation chamber.