D'ya think this family filled a large home? And did Grandma live there, too?
“When your body wears out, where are you going to LIVE?”
There’s a chiro guy in Lincoln, NE who has a billboard atop his office featuring that quote and as amusing as it is, it’s a serious concern.
Families used to share grandparents from household to the next among the children with offspring and their spouses sharing the load of making sure Grandma or Grandpa got the attention they deserved.
After World War II we saw more “institutionalization” of aging people. Nursing homes-sometimes referred to as Rest Homes-had consisted of large old homes with numerous bedrooms where elderly folks were under the watchful care of the home owner, who may have been trained as a nurse or nursing assistant. There was a family atmosphere about these homes, where meals were shared around a big dining room table and the Lady of the House did the cooking. Residents sat together in the living room and listened to the radio, played games, worked puzzles or just visited.
These arrangements gave way to the “wisdom” of governmental agencies whose job it became to define the quality of life of the people who lived in these types of environments.
Your humble blogger remembers with great anguish a dear, loving nurse-home owner who had to close her loving home to the care of these ailing people because of governmental regulations. She loved her patients with all her heart and soul. She loved preparing their food-she even GREW much of it! She loved managing their laundry and keeping their home neat and clean and smelling sweet. Oh, how she loved hearing their life stories as often as they cared to repeat them. Her people flourished under her watchful eye but the Feds declared it wasn’t good enough.
These days we have Assisted Living facilities for people who are best not left alone. We have full blown Nursing Homes for those who must have 24 hour care. Neither option is appealing for a variety of reasons. Let’s think about some new ideas.
One of the features of aging, in your humble blogger's considered opinion, is ISOLATION. Kids in our age group do not have youngsters in school, so that removes us from that segment of the population. Unless we have family members who pop in on us or neighbors we are friendly with, we do not see other adults or many children in the course of most days. When we shop, the clerks are busy with their duties. They are not there to socialize with the gray haired set. Furthermore, they may not WANT to chat with someone who as mature as folks with store teeth and blue hair.
SIDEBAR: It's that darned generation gap thing again! Wasn't that already tiresome in the 1960's? END SIDEBAR.
That leaves any church functions, club memberships or community activities. Seniors may not drive and if they do, they prefer not to drive at night. You can easily understand how this isolation creeps in. This is how their doctors’ appointments become social engagements!
Considering that isolation is such a growing issue as we age, why not create a multi level “family” of sorts by having Seniors live in a cooperative environment? Each person would be free to do what he/she does best; chores and tasks could be rotated so boredom would not take over.
Just think. Sisters Mary and Martha are 5 years apart in age. Mary loves to cook; Martha loves to clean. They make good housemates for that reason. They find out that Miriam, who was Mary’s high school classmate, is ailing from a fall. When Miriam, who loves to sew and mend, leaves temporary rehab she could live with Martha and Mary and the three of them could play Scrabble any afternoon they don’t go to their Book Club or Garden Club.
Best of all, they are all sharing expenses and the work load PLUS they are all eating well and socializing more. It’s all good.
As time goes by, and the good word is getting around, Matilda hears that this living arrangement is working well and asks if they have room for one more housemate. Matilda loves to garden and she could still grow things in pots on the porch.
Let’s suppose, while we are creating, that these women live next door to an elementary teacher. The school has a project whereby children visits, class by class, older people to learn about the kinds of work people did when they were younger. This type of inter-generational activity provides socialization and education for all concerned. Besides, everybody will have FUN.
And so it could go. See what we have in mind here?
Nursing Homes and Assisted Living facilities are here to stay. There’s no doubt about that. But we might rethink how some of us live our lives as we age.
It’s all conjecture, of course. After all, your humble blogger is only 33.