Is your glass half full?

“Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but reading all of these comments, it makes it sound like this kind of move is hugely detrimental to a senior, filled with doom and gloom. . . I guess, there are as many people that see the glass half empty as there are seeing it half full!” Click here for full text of this comment

I have been thinking about this comment ever since it was posted on the blog. In my 20 year career, I have heard statements like “I will never move to a home”, or “My mom refuses to move to a home” countless times. Imagine if you are someone who made that statement and you now find yourself or a loved one actually moving into a “home”. You can see how its hard to get really excited about this life transition.

When I was living in Paul Spring I became much more aware of the stigma that rests on senior housing options and consequently on the shoulders of the residents. For example, at a community event one resident shared with everyone in the room how to her surprise she has benefitted from living in the community, and when she recommended to a friend to consider moving in, her friend said “there is no way I will ever move to an old age home.” Even if you really love a community, when you hear statements like this enough I can see how it might affect your esteem and attitude.

Many of the residents I met went through tremendous loss prior to moving in, however for the most part they balanced themselves with a positive attitude. I think the saying “attitude is everything” is very appropriate to making this transition a smooth one. I really think this is an area where family, community and loved ones can be very helpful to giving new residents every chance to maximize the benefits of the transition and become part of a community.

I put together a video that trys to articulate some of my thoughts on this, it’s definately not an easy subject – I would appreciate questions, comments and challenges on this topic.

1 Comment

  • Nancy Loyd

    Dear Steve,

    I loved your ½ empty, ½ full comments about your experience as a 43 y/o in an elder community. Years ago we helped move a man who held 4 cabinet positions to a life-care community because his wife was failing. As she declined, she got all the care she needed and he could walk to visit her. When she died, his Washington friends expected him to move back to town. He told them he was staying put; he loved the kinship and convenience of his community.

    I spent nearly every weekend of my high school years (‘62-’66) volunteering in a “home” for the aged, Carroll Manor, in Hyattsville, MD. Each resident lived in her/his own single room. Thinking about it now I realize that they had different levels of care – Independent, assisted, senile and nursing, but it was still a ‘home’. (Back then, the severely loopy folks were called “senile”. We didn’t have a name for what ailed the woman with decent social skills and 2 dresser drawers full of napkins and sugar packets.)

    Elder housing has made HUGE strides since the 60’s. (For the 15 years we’ve had Busy Buddies, Mary Ann has called the wonderful communities we work with in the metro area, cruise ships on land.) Unfortunately, I would guess outside our sphere, 85% of the general population still thinks of any type of elder housing as the “home” with it’s built in stigmas. They may know the word Alzheimer’s but not know there are dozens of types of dementia. They may also know the term Assisted Living but it applies to all senior housing and the “home”.

    I like the sound of life-care communities.

    I think it would serve us well to somehow spread the knowledge we have to the general population and stop using confusing words.

    Two that come to mind are:
    Lifestyle transition – folks are moving, not having hormone treatments and surgery on private parts.

    Retirement coordinator – when I finally get to retire, I definitely don’t want someone else coordinating it, but I may need to talk to a market/sales person about moving to a life-care community.

    Relocation Stress Syndrome (RSS) or transition trauma is a well-documented phenomenon for any age. Here’s an excellent article:

    Thanks for your insights, Steve. Let’s start informing our peeps.

    Nancy Loyd

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