When we consider how life changes as people age, it can have the potential to become a lonely existence. The number of friends within their circle are decreasing, their own health and abilities can be expected to decline and the choices they have are becoming fewer and fewer. The power of people is very real to the aging population.
I’ve talked with a number of families throughout my twenty-year career in senior living and I find there are a few common threads. One that I firmly believe can be easily relieved is the thread of guilt. Many adult children are burdened by the guilt they feel for encouraging their parent or parents to move into an assisted living community. I struggled with this myself – through many months of conversations – when moving my own mother from her home to assisted living in 2018.
It is not always the case, but for many seniors, moving into a community like The Kensington can bring feelings of comfort, safety and fun. It may appear to be more of a sorority or fraternity than the ‘old folks home’ of yesteryear. We’ve also heard it compared to a cruise ship at dock, offering engaging entertainment, delicious meals, and service at the press of a button. New residents have suddenly been given a promotion. Someone else is responsible for the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry. (Grocery shopping and housecleaning would be at the top of my list of most dreaded chores.) And activities are planned and implemented around their areas of interest and suggestions. They can do as much or as little as they wish, seven days a week.
Why should one feel guilty for helping their loved one build a new network of friends in a community offering plenty of opportunities for engagement? Even our residents who do not lavish in the company of others for hours on end, find the presence of peers and our Kensington team gives them comfort and a feeling of safety.
Approaching the subject of assisted living can be daunting for the child of any elderly parent. The conversations with my mother were at first held as if assisted living were an option “down the road.” Gradually it became clear that the move was necessary and I was fortunate, in my position, to have plenty of ammunition to address her many concerns and excuses. Today her talent for imposing guilt can only be practiced in attempts to have me join her for just one more meal. And the only feeling I end up taking home is one of relief.