Have I ever told you about my experience helping my mother last year? She had two strokes, and was intubated. We thought she was going to die, so I went to spend a couple of months in Colorado Springs to help out with everything.
I stayed in the retirement home that Mom lived in and travelled to and from the hospital from there. I ate most of my meals at the retirement home, and every day after my hard, back-breaking days at the hospital, the residents at the home were my comfort and stress relief. They became my best friends.
Even though the home is an over-55 community, in reality the average age was mid-80’s. The average stay there is 3 years before people die or move on to assisted living or memory care.
I ate with the residents, played puzzles with them, hung out with them talking and joking, and experienced the loss of several of them. I was going through the most brain-crushing stress of my life, but those old people, my yoga, and my jogging kept me sane.
People think that old people in retirement homes are pathetic and uninteresting. That’s about as far from the truth as the difference between purebreds and mutts in dogs.
Sure they have their little petty squabbles, all communities do. But the community as a whole supports itself just as a family would. They embraced me with open arms as one of them. Why? Because when you get old and the rest of the world leaves you, people become the most important resource you have. Status, power, and looks are meaningless.
Eventually the stress and anxiety from everything else caused me to have a breakdown, and I had to come back home to my dog, Hubby, and my house with the peace and calm of the woods.
We’ve since given up Mom’s residence there, but I’ll tell you this. I will never ever shun an old person. These are the very people who have all the time in the world; to tell you precious stories of long ago and far away places, and listen to your stories.
When was the last time you did something completely new and out of your element? How was it? Will you do it again?
Thanks for the great idea, Polymathically!
Beyond the Pale