Better Together

by Lillian

For as far back as I can remember, I have provided strict instructions to my children regarding my golden years. It has always been important to me that I maintain my independence and, most importantly, that I do not become a burden to my family. This  makes me very much like most of my peers.

I am enormously lucky.  At the age of 77 I am still in excellent health, extremely active, sociable, and independent, and have a loving and supportive family.

When my husband passed away three years ago, I had no intention of moving out of the house in Arlington Heights that we’d lived in for 50 years. However, I quickly found that it was way too large for me, and although full of “things” we’d collected  during our lives there, was far too empty.  My daughter Madeleine was great about coming to visit, but at the end of the day, I was still alone. It was lonesome, cold, and scary.

 Madeleine  started  sending me every article, clipping, and blog that she could find about the dangers of isolation. She even broached the subject of me moving in with her family. Wait a minute! Wasn’t that at the top of my list of instructions? That I was not in any way to become a burden to her? Ironically, because of my fierce independence, becoming a burden was exactly what I was in danger of doing. I caused her a great deal of worry not only because of my present isolation, but even more so for my future. She wanted me to make a decision about my future while it was still up to me, rather than having a decision made for me based on need.

 And so, I came to my senses and looked into moving to a retirement community.

 During the time that it took me to decide to move to Friendship Village, I heard a consistent message that was loud and clear. Without exception, every single person I talked to said they wished they’d chosen to move earlier.  I heard comments that included:

“It’s best to move when you’re young and healthy enough to enjoy the amenities.”

“I’ve made friends that I feel I’ve known my entire life.”

“I don’t have to cook or clean anymore.”

“I don’t have to change a lightbulb, let alone shovel a driveway.”

And most importantly:

“I didn’t want to be a burden to our children.”

Because Friendship Village is a Life Plan community, formerly known as a CCRC, moving here was not only the best decision I could have made but also the last one I’ll have to make, because when my health needs change, I’m already where I’ll need to be. That’s immensely reassuring!

 In the time I’ve been here, my life has changed dramatically, and all for the good. I’m exactly as busy as I want to be, without having to worry about navigating bad weather, getting a ride or driving, making dinner, planning activities, or finding people to be with.  There are countless programs and activities here so I have been able to pursue my favorite hobbies including crafts, singing, and reading. I’ve also been able to check out some new interests including gardening, Wii, and computers.  I’ve even tried some exciting new things like laser tag! There’s live entertainment, speakers and discussions all the time. And if I want to, I can enjoy time in my apartment not doing much of anything, and that’s okay too.

I am healthier than I’ve been in ages. I work out three times a week in the fitness center which has  great equipment and offers fun classes. I even play water volleyball.  And as far as meals go…let’s face it…when I was living alone it seemed pointless to cook for myself so my meals were often junk food that I was able to pick up from a drive-thru….if I bothered eating much at all.  At Friendship Village, we have so many choices for all of our meals and they are consistently not only delicious but nutritional as well. 

Friendship Village’s most important asset for me  is its residents. I am surrounded by people who are bright, active, engaged and looking forward to the years ahead. I keep in touch with my friends from home, but really treasure my new friends in my new home.

The best part of my move is the fact that neither my present nor future will in any way, be a burden to anyone at all.  My family has the peace of mind knowing that I’m.in a great place…physically, socially and emotionally!