Finding a Home
It was Friday, it was warm and the baskets were in full flower as I made my along the promenade heading for the Boathouse Restaurant. The Fraser River was still busy with tug boats making their way back to their slips for the night. The promenade was hectic with people out for evening or heading home from work, whatever the circumstance, we all seemed especially happy as the week was over and playtime was in the air.
The hostess was busy as I entered, so I just made my way into the lounge area looking for a seat by the window and there, by herself, sat a neighbor of mine. She caught my eye and waved me over. She had just completed her dinner. She was by herself as her husband of 45 years had recently moved into a facility nearby, he has Alzheimer’s.
Having lived in the same building all these years, we had much to talk about. She confided that being without Bill, had made life for her very lonely. In 2002, she had fallen and broken her hip, an all too common circumstance of aging. Since then she requires a walker to get around. Her confidence in caring for herself has diminished and therefore, had made the decision to move into an assisted living facility nearby. A close friend had recently moved there and as it is also closer to Bill, it is the facility of choice.
We spent the next hour having a wonderful visit, but soon she had leave as dusk was approaching. She finds it difficult to make her way home at night, as she is less confident with her walker now. And being alone, outside, at night, is scary for her. I asked if she would like me to walk her back, but insisted that I stay and finish my meal, she was fine she told me in no uncertain terms “I’m fine, you stay and I’ll see you before I leave.”
I had mixed emotions as I watched her leave. She was someone I had seen in the building for years, yet until that night, we had never had such an in-depth conversation. It saddened me to know it was unlikely to occur again. I promised myself to make more of effort to see others in my building, before they too are gone.
She is lucky, because she is going to a place with friends, however many of us, won’t be that lucky. Men are more likely to stick it out longer, because, well… we’re guys, and we seldom ask for directions. I thought about that particular male characteristic the other day, while on a ferry heading for Bowen Island. Two couples sat near by, the women looked unsure and the men headed off for a walk around the deck. As we approached Snug Cove, one of the women leaned over and in very broken English, asked if this was Nanaimo? And there was the rub, the men had made the decision without asking directions, hence the wrong place.
As we age, we have to ask more questions. We have to be inquiring minds as it is important, for the balance of our lives. To be in right place, a place, too ensure a safe and secure environment. And those places are out there, run by truly caring people, but we need to know… which one is right for us.
In all my research and tours of various facilities thought-out Metro Vancouver, I found them all to run and operated by caring people. People, who could find better paying jobs, however, they are care givers by nature and are not there for financial reward. So like Mary, we need to know ourselves and our capacity. We also need to know, where to go.
The internet is full of resources. Whether they are government resources or independent resources, the information is out there, we just have to do our homework. It is not one of those things, to be left until the last minute. Aging requires advance planning, as being in the wrong place, can be debilitating.
And I know, I have said this before, but it is important to remember that more of us die from loneliness, boredom and isolation than all other diseases and none of those options are particularly attractive. An excellent organization to contact is the Seniors Services Society, www.seniorsservicessociety.ca or at 604 520 6621.
Another proactive step, we might take, if we find ourselves a bit unsteady in our step is Hip Protectors. Hip protectors are special garments (underwear, shorts or pants) containing soft pads specifically designed to protect your hips during a fall. For more information you can contact Fraser Health for a brochure. Check out the things you need, as you are your own number one, care giver.
Live well and be involved.