by Joan Blumenfeld, MS, LPC
My 85-year-old client, Henry, lives alone as he always has. He retired long ago from his lifetime career as a history professor. He never married, has no family presence locally and is fiercely independent.
Although his health is generally good and remarkably stable for his age, Henry shows signs of frailty. His mind is quite sharp and he is very charming, but his memory lapses are alarming. He uses a cane to help steady his walk and, although he is still driving, his vision is certainly not up to snuff. He admits to being lonely since his few friends have moved away or died.
Henry has difficulty managing money and paying bills on time. He can barely take care of his marketing, cooking, laundry and housekeeping, but sees no need for help with any of it. He often doesn’t make or keep medical appointments and frequently forgets or misplaces his medications.
Henry is the perfect candidate for assisted living!
I aroused his curiosity about such facilities by telling him stories of how well some of my other clients have fared in them. The idea of eating three well-prepared and nicely served meals a day in a hotel-like dining room was especially appealing to Henry. Having nurses on staff to respond to medical emergencies and aides to assist with personal care seemed reasonable (only if absolutely necessary, of course). And people to talk to and play bridge with actually sounded like fun.
So one day I invited Henry to join me for lunch and a tour of one of Fairfield County’s excellent facilities. He was game, and we had a great visit. His lunch was delicious and, as he commented, artistically presented! The dessert was superb. He noticed the waiter had a good sense of humor, and he really liked the bright, spacious apartments and well-appointed common rooms.
But the tour was the easy part. Now I have to convince Henry that his quality of life will improve enormously in assisted living. Then I have to prove to him that he can in fact afford to live there. And lastly, I have to show him that moving is doable. I will orchestrate the move and work with specialists to make it happen smoothly. So, while I’m certain that assisted living would be a blessing for Henry, this transition, as you can see, is still a work in progress.
Wish us luck!
Pearl of wisdom: On average, transitioning to assisted living takes 2-1/2 years from the first visit to the actual move. Be patient. Stay focused on the advantages.
Joan Blumenfeld is a Geriatric Care manager based in Fairfield County, Connecticut. For more information see her web site at joanblumenfeld.com. © Joan Blumenfeld 2015
This blog was originally posted on December 19, 2011.