Tidbits from the Sandwich Generation: Should I stay or should I go?
By Pamela Ruben
A few days ago our youngest flew the coop, and was off to college without so much as a look back. His newly empty-nesting parents made up for his lack of nostalgia with a few tears and endless Facebook posts about his launch and arrival at college. Since he's been gone, we have received six short texts (but who's counting?) and one emoji sharing his status, which we can report is 'thumbs up.' From his cryptic messages, I have pieced together that all is well, and that, for the moment, our parenting role is on hold, at least until he needs some money!
With our new change of life, my husband and I began to wonder, 'Should we stay or should we go?' Should the two of us continue to maintain a family-sized home, or downsize into an urban condo?
'Should I stay or should I go?' is an ongoing dilemma for those getting older. Each year, thousands of seniors debate whether they should transition to a senior living community or remain in their family home and 'age in place.'
Recently, I spoke to a senior who successfully transitioned to a senior living community, and a great deal can be learned from her experience. Just a few months ago, 87-year-old Gloria Newberger, moved from an Altamonte Springs condo to independent living at Oakmonte Village Senior Retirement Community in Lake Mary. Prior to her move, Gloria was the picture of self-reliance, and couldn't imagine herself as a resident in any type of senior facility. The lifelong volunteer organized and attended a weekly Happy Hour for Seniors at Maitland's Savannah Court, served on charitable boards, worked out daily at the JCC, and had regular social dates.
Relocating became a family decision after Gloria experienced a fall. Though she was unhurt, her adult children became concerned about her safety, and 'what could have happened' if no one had been around. Gloria's daughter, Nancy Ludin, executive director of the Jewish Pavilion, has years of experience with elder-facilities, and felt a senior living community was her mom's best choice. This option met Gloria's need for social connections and engaging activities, while having someone nearby 24/7. Additionally, the Lake Mary community offers varying levels of care, making additional moves unnecessary.
Several months after the move, Gloria is happy with her decision "to go." She admits there was an adjustment to group living and some initial reluctance. While she may have grumbled a time or two to her daughter during the first few weeks, she now finds herself at home in her new place. Gloria notes living in close quarters has made it surprisingly easy to make friends, and finds that each new person she meets has an interesting story to share about their past life and where they came from!
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of dining with Gloria at her new residence. She greeted me with same signature smile she's always had, and invited me into a salon area where we enjoyed a fresh and bountiful continental breakfast in the company of some lovely ladies.
Gloria gave me a tour of her new place with pride. I saw the game room, the movie room, the craft room, and more. Though she is driving less and less, she has found a way to continue her lifelong volunteerism. In the spirit of her years of volunteering with the Jewish Pavilion, Gloria provides one-on-one visits with residents in her community's assisted living and memory care facilities. Gloria has found a way to maintain a sense of herself by giving back to others, regardless of where she resides.
Emily Newman of the Orlando Senior Help Desk, shared that there are senior living communities throughout Orlando that meet the needs and budgets for a wide variety of seniors. Additionally, there are many options available for those who choose, and are able, to 'age in place.' She noted there is much information about senior living options on the Internet, but cautions the reader to note who is sponsoring the content (as it often is sales focused).
As for empty nesting, we have decided to stick with our home-base for now, until our kids are ready to leave the roost year-round. We are feeling a bit bullish (and not just because of our new collegiate affiliation) about life's next stage, and give a big 'thumbs up' for the adventure ahead.
Sty tuned for the next Tidbit: "Is 'aging in place' the right choice for me or my loved one?"
Tidbits from the Sandwich Generation is a series of blogs by Pamela Ruben about managing the multi-generations. If you are sandwiched in between raising a family of children or young adults, and caring for aging parents this blog is for you! Check out additional posts at http://www.jewishpavilion.org/blog. For no cost help for issues pertaining to older adults contact the Orlando Senior Help Desk, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, at 407-678-9363 or visit http://www.orlandoseniorhelpdesk.org.