Everyone understands the idea of a village raising a child. But the same is true for an elder. The decision to uproot your life and home to move into an essentially foreign territory are not easily made and often left to loved ones.
My mother in law is 91 years old, still a red-head, and has been the immovable object for the past couple of years despite countless efforts by her physicians, friends and family to keep her safe and relatively happy. I say relatively because my mother in law has a cup half empty attitude about most things in life. But her refusal to move in with us or have housecleaning or Meals on Wheels or any sort of assistance has landed her on her keester, literally for the last time. Her recent fall resulted in a broken arm and life in a skilled care facility for the past month.
It has been painfully decided that an alternative living arrangement must be made. She refuses to be a part of the decision making process stating that she does not want to look and for us to decide. Of course, she adds, that she only wants a room with a bed and no window as she is never getting up again. This woman, despite her longevity, has not aged well.
Tomorrow we will be taking her to have lunch at what will hopefully be her new digs. It is a modified independent living community. Her one bedroom apartment is downsizing from a 3 bedroom house but will be much more manageable and more importantly, safe. The staff is so genuine and with so much to do and the residents more independent in their routines than most places we looked at, we think she will be much happier when she settles in. A point in our favor is that she knows someone there and her apartment is just a few doors down on the same floor - instant neighbors!
With the help of three adult grandchildren and six great grandchildren, friends and neighbors we will move this grand lady to her new home and celebrate the beginning of yet another chapter in her life. In the Native American culture all members of the village care for the elders. The elders in turn provide wisdom and experience to the young parents and children.
So it seems fitting that as a village of loved ones, we will reassure her that this journey is not yet over as we continue to walk together. And maybe this village can help her see that her cup truly is full.
For those of you who are caregivers, you know the anguish and stress that has been ours. I will chronicle this journey and hope that you will share your own stories of caring for the elders in your village.