Granny the Co-Ed
September 26, 2012
Recently, I read a blog on Colbern Road's page about the "Retirement Conundrum." When should or can I retire? How do I know and how can I balance the quality and quantity of life without a crystal ball? It is a hard question for a person to decide for himself, but even harder when the decision is for another person.
We have recently had to move a senior family member into a retirement center. For health and safety reasons, this move has been a blessing; however, it has also been an amazing challenge. It has been such a BIG lifestyle change for "Granny" to embrace! For those of us who lived in dorms in our college days, this might feel almost déjà vu. Granny never went to college, and this is all new to her!
Meals are prepared and served at specific times. If you want to eat, you have to get yourself to the cafeteria on time! Granny finds herself sitting at the same table and eating with the same people—not unlike we did on campus. Granny has a laundry room down the hall and everyone shares it...I recall those crazy piles of laundry stacked everywhere as machines finished, but users did not move their loads fast enough! A big screen TV is shared in one of the activity rooms, there are Wii's and a pool table in another, and exercise equipment in still another. On campus we could sign up for exercise classes, art classes, card clubs, and now—no doubt—Wii teams! It is all so similar, it almost feels like we sent Granny off to college!
But to Granny, who has spent the last 50 years in the same house, this change is a major undertaking—and not one she was totally prepared for. She has never had to deal with so many different people at one time. They think differently, have different politics, religions, and attitudes. So, she has found this change often confusing and even scary at time. Still, she loves not having to cook, clean, wash, or drive (and, in her case, she especially loves not having to park the car)!
When I visit and she is particularly agitated, I try to remember what I felt when I was in college. I can recall being homesick for familiar things when I was away at school, so I try to relate to what she is feeling and listen carefully. Maybe, she'll give me a clue as to what would make it better. A laugh, a walk, a hug, or something from home? The center looks like a great place to me, but I can leave more easily than her and don't have to deal with the rules all the time. So, I try to bring "Granny our co-ed" care packages and hope to help her through this hard transition.