After years of teaching, active participation in my church, service in a grief support program, and five years as a citizen of a retirement home, I am aware of the sadness and distress after the death of a family member. I am now aware of other causes of grief in the lives of seniors.
Grief and its products differ from person to person. The senior may have difficulty finding strength from friends and relatives. A death is not the only reason for grief in the lives of older citizens. These dear ones may realize that they can no longer live alone, drive their cars, and care for homes that can no longer meet their ability to maintain.
The following is a list of some of the frustrations that may be faced.
*Health and memory problems
*Finding medical care
*Feeling trapped in a living environment that they cannot control
*Difficulty planning meals, shopping for food, preparing meals, and eating alone
*Absence of friends and family members to talk to and share concerns
*Need for help to plan and take the doses of medicine prescribed by doctor
*Inability to get to doctor appointments
*Lack of ability to attend church and other group meetings
*Feeling isolated from family because of transportation
*Worrying about what is happening within the family group
*Difficulty paying bills and managing money
CONSIDERATION OF BECOMING PART OF A RETIREMENT COMMUNITY
The author informed her family that she needed to change her living situation. She had friends who were happy in homes and had visited friends from her church weekly who were living in retirement homes. She had just recovered from a hospital stay and therapy. She asked her three children to share a visit in two homes where she might like to live. Her home was needing repairs that would be costly.
However, the responsibility of the family, or other friends, does not end with the decision of where to live. The author has two daughter who live near the community where the author had lived for many years. They now visit her often and shop for her. The daughters and grandchildren visit and call her often. They help her celebrate special events and get her to doctor appointments when the community home bus cannot do that.
The family helped the author sell her car and home. They helped her move into her new home. The decisions about what to take to the new home need To be a family planned affair. More will be discussed about this later. The senior needs to make a list of his, or her, concerns that need to be addressed as the new home is considered. If the senior is capable of helping to make plans with the family’s help, the move will be easier and a happier affair. The entire family can visit possible homes, and talk to those who are there to help as services of the homes are shared and questions are asked and answered.
POSSIBLE QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION DURING RETIREMENT HOME INTERVIEWS
*What special health care services are provided for special needs? (diets, wheel chairs, etc.)
*What services are available for help keeping units clean and laundry?
*Is travel available for shopping and doctor visits and shopping?
*Are there scheduled events and activities available? How are the residents informed about the activities available?
*Is there help in the office to answer special questions of the residents and to provide needed follow-up?
* What arrangements can be made if special health problems arise?
*Are church services available within the home?
*Is there a library available?
*Is a beauty salon available within the home?
*Is there a community, or a family room, available for family groups to use for special occasions
Making the choice is not easy and the decision to involve the family and the senior citizen.
About the Author
Geraldine Haggard has been a facilitator in the Journey of Hope Grief Support program in Plano, Texas for twelve years. Her service in that program has included working with children in the pre-school and primary grades. She has written two previous books for Centering Corporation and written sessions plans for the Journey of Hope children. “Strength for the Journey” was co-authored by her.
She taught in Denton County schools and the Plano ISD for 48 years. Her career included the role of Elementary Language Arts Director and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. After she retired from public school service, she taught reading methods courses at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. Dr. Haggard has authored teaching materials for reading teachers and students for Education Bridge, Wilbooks, and Hameray publishers.