I sat down with Jean for a lovely lunch at her senior living community. I was interested to see how she was doing in her new place and to delve into the challenges she faced leaving her home of many years. She happily shared her experiences hoping it would help others considering a similar move.
Val: Jean, we could end this interview right now as your huge smile tells me all I need to know!
Jean: (laughing) I am very happy! It is such a wonderful place, and the people are so friendly.
Val: But as we both know, it was quite a process to get here. You have been here 3 months now, so let’s go back to the beginning to let our readers know just how it all happened.
Jean: It all went so fast! My kids had been suggesting for a while that a senior living community might be a safer option for me. My husband had passed years before, so I was living alone in a big house with a big yard and all the work that goes with it. At the beginning of August, I told my kids I was ready to start looking. We reached out to you, you set up tours for us at several communities and then I was moved in by the beginning of September! (look of disbelief)
Val: Deciding on a new home in a senior living community was only the beginning. We will get into that in a moment, but how did you decide which one?
Jean: I just knew. I looked at several apartments in several communities and when I walked into this one, I just knew. I told my son, this is it. The apartment had a warm wonderful feeling, and I just knew I could make it mine.
Val: Now for the tough part: the move…
Jean: It was not easy. The thought alone was overwhelming. Going through a lifetime of things. Sorting what to give to family, what to sell, what to throw away… My kids told me, “These are just material items, you will always have the memories, and now someone else will be able to enjoy them.” So, I sorted it all out and everything I wanted was either in my new place or in my car and the estate sale began. If I could offer one piece of advice, start cleaning out your closet now!
Val: What other advice do you have for others who may be considering a move?
Jean: Well, don’t be stubborn. (smile) Trust that others, like your kids, want what is best for you. I had to stop being a control freak and just have faith.
If at all possible, move into your new place first, take everything you want, then enlist kids, family, friends or other resources to help clean out the house.
I had fallen in my home, (don’t tell my kids), and I didn’t want to end up in a nursing home like my mother. So, my best advice is, move before you fall!
Val: Let’s circle back to what is behind your huge smile. Can you share the benefits of a senior living community?
Jean: Well, first off, I’m so much stronger! I was weak because I didn’t have to walk much in my home. Now I have to walk much farther to get to the restaurant, the activities, the fitness center etc.
I don’t have to worry about my house, about shoveling snow, about lawn mowing, yard work, furnace problems… It is a huge weight off my shoulders.
If I want to be by myself in my apartment, I can. But if I want to go for a walk, play cards, help in the garden, I can do that too. I am finally taking care of me, just me!
Another benefit is not cooking! I can’t believe that I’m saying that. I thought I would be cooking forever, and even though I have a beautiful kitchen, I haven’t cooked a meal yet.
Val: One final thought: you lived alone for 18 years, what is it like being around people?
Jean: I am so enjoying meeting and being around so many people! I remember when I first got here, I was sad for a couple of weeks. I met a couple and they invited me to play Canasta. I played and I won!
Val: Did they invite you back?
Jean: (laughing) They did and I have since met so many other wonderful people. My new friend Jo, she is the ticket! We laugh so much. It is so wonderful having new friends.
Val: Thank you Jean for your time and this wonderful lunch. Seeing you happy means the world to me! (big hugs).
To our readers, if you are considering a move to a senior living community, I would be honored to help you as well. I can offer advice on how to move, choosing the right community, and provide other expert resources to help you navigate the journey so that you too can find a place you love like Jean did.
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