Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Follow-Up On Settling My Parents Into Assisted Living

Lately, I keep running into people who say, “I haven’t checked into your blog this week but I’m wondering how things are going with your parents?”
These are questions that make me happy because I’m thrilled to know that people read my blog and feel the desire to catch up with what’s going on. Also, this life stage with my parents seems to resonate with so many of my friends and readers. So many people have dealt with, or are dealing with, this stage in life where you’ve finally gotten your college-age kids out the door (or maybe they are still sleeping on your couch) and now you’re dealing with the care of your parents. It has probably always occurred this way, throughout history, although this generation is new to the concept of assisted living homes and how we factor them into the equation.

I want to let you know that my parents are doing really great. (This photo was taken of them last August, before the decision was made to move to assisted living.) My mom seems very happy and content and my dad has a lighter tone on the telephone than I have heard in years. I called the other day and he said, “I can’t talk now, I have to go to boot camp!” I laughed and told him I would call him later when he wasn’t busy, which these days, is not very often. He and my mom have developed a routine of gourmet eating in the dining hall, (“We had duck! Can you imagine they served us duck?!”), listening in on lectures and classes, exercise sessions and social visits with other residents as they get to know who is who there. Last night there was a revue of several Laurel and Hardy movies. My dad wanted to get down to the dining room extra early so he could get a good seat in the theater afterwards. Laurel and Hardy have always been some of his favorite old movie stars and for a time, he was a member of the Sons of The Desert, a Shriner style organization that mimicked the fraternal lodge portrayed in the L&H movie of the same name. I’m thrilled that they have entertainment programming that gets them excited now.

So basically, the experiment has gone as planned and they are adjusting well, which is a huge relief to me and my siblings. I saw too many people in our exploration of these homes who were miserable and seemed as if they were waiting to die. I tried to explain to my parents that living in one of these places is like going on a cruise for the rest of your life, you just never leave port. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve put two small kids on a bus with a bag of quarters and said, “call me when you get there,” but we will deal with each issue as it comes up and hopefully they will have many days of smooth sailing ahead.

On a related note, one of my personal history colleagues recently posted a question about marketing to people like myself, the baby boomers whose parents are aging and they are managing this process, as I have been managing my parents process. With my own parents, I am so glad that I have hours of interviews captured of them from 3-5 years ago. Their memories are fading and sometimes bits are lost. I continue to try and get details about relatives and have been working with my dad for a couple of years now to help him write out stories of some of the more colorful and interesting events in his life. While I know that no time is better than the present and that if you haven’t done a biography with your own parents yet, any time is better than waiting until after they are gone and I am glad I captured my own parents before their memories began to slip. I have worked with a few clients where it’s almost been too late, they have lost so much memory.

I like the vision of my parents on the cruise right now, sailing through the sunset of their lives with little to worry about, still together for as long as possible, and I am thankful that they are living somewhere safe, happy and stimulated.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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