A New York Times article regarding one couple’s discussions about moving to a retirement home brought back memories of my own parents’ ongoing dialog. My folks were in their mid-eighties, still healthy and active, but their three-bedroom home on a Florida lakeshore was becoming a burden. After a lifetime of shopping for groceries, planning and preparing meals, my mother had run out of steam. More important, she was feeling increasingly isolated and lonely. Her friends were either dead or living out their final days in nursing homes with dementia. My stepfather, of course, was completely comfortable having my mother cook and care for him. The subject of time to move to a retirement home was not something he entertained.
I don’t remember the catalyst, but they finally put their house on the market
My folks finally sold their house and moved to a retirement community overlooking a little lake. They had their own little unit, with a provision to move to assisted care and the nursing facility when/if it became necessary. My mother was thrilled. A very social person, she immediately made friends, played bridge three-four times/week, helped out in the library one day each week. There was always something going on and the staff were wonderful. My mother had cooked her last meal. This was exactly where she needed to be at this point in her life.
In the Times article, John and Dawn Strumsky had the same debate as my folks did. Dawn’s ready to pack it in. After a lifetime of caring for others, it’s time to be a “princess”, unburdened by the demands of cooking, cleaning and gardening. Her husband hated the idea of a leaving their longtime home and being surrounded by a bunch of strangers—a bunch of old strangers. He finally relented and they moved to a senior community outside Baltimore. He learned to embrace his new environment and subsequently wrote a 365-page history of the facility that they use in their marketing.
Dealing with seniors’ resistance to moving to a retirement home: It’s a journey
Seniors fear giving up their independence. It’s difficult to leave the home where they’ve raised their families. They don’t like confronting their own mortality. The key to convincing a parent to move to a retirement community is to be patient, said Tom Neubauer, executive vice president at Erickson Living, which operates 19 retirement communities. “Inherently there’s a sense of denial, particularly as it relates to aging, and you’re trying to defeat that.”He likened the process to helping a high school student choose a college: “You can’t just hand them a brochure and say, ‘This is where you’re going.’ It’s a journey.”
Neubauer’s strategy was to get his mother to recognize that the stairs in her house were steep, that cold weather affected her ability to get out and do things. That she was limiting herself because she wasn’t driving at night. It ended up being very easy. Collectively, all of these arguments persuaded his mother that it was time to move.
Go for a visit; stay for a meal or an overnight
Experts advise visiting retirement communities and trying to get a feel for what the experience would be like. Meet the residents, talk to the staff, stay for a meal. Some facilities will allow potential residents to spend a few nights.
Specialists in senior moving help seniors recreate their lives in smaller environments
We all love our stuff. Seniors may have spent decades in the same home, and it can be very difficult to leave all that is comfortable and familiar. A cottage industry of specialists in senior moving has sprung up, and the National Association of Senior Move Managers has more than 1,000 members.
These consultants do more than move boxes. They create digital floor plans to show clients how everything will look and fit in a smaller environment. They’ll ship leftover items to relatives or to auctions. As much as possible, they recreate the old space to make the transition as seamless as possible.
My folks lived in their retirement community for nearly ten years
As with many seniors, a health crisis necessitated my parents’ move into assisted living, then nursing care. They both died there within six months of each other. My mom was 94. In the end, we enlisted the support of Hospice, and the women who cared for her were wonderful. I think of my mom so often, and it’s generally while she was surrounded by her many friends in that retirement community where she happily lived out the last decade of her life.
Kara Swisher is a business technology journalist and contributor to The New York Times. In a recent article, she describes her own symptoms that led to her rush to the ER with a stroke. What saved her life? It well may have been a long-distance consult with her doctor brother who recognized the symptoms. His words: “You’re Having a Stroke” could have saved her life. Could you identify the symptoms?
“Get to a hospital now. You’re having a stroke”
Swisher had flown to Hong Kong to run a conference. She was 49, healthy and didn’t have any of the conditions normally associated with a stroke—no high blood pressure, neither a smoker nor overweight. She had begun to feel odd symptoms, but associated them with the normal migraines with which she struggled. She felt a slight tingle on the side of her mouth and hand, and her words came out garbled. Odd, but certainly not alarming.
When she tried to eat a strawberry, it slowly dropped from the side of her mouth onto her shirt. As she’d been doing for years, she texted her symptoms to her brother, Jeff, a doctor. By the time she’d showered, dressed and headed to the restaurant for breakfast, her symptoms were largely gone, and she moved on to her day. By the time Jeff called to tell her she was having a stroke, she laughed it off.
But he was insistent. In an increasingly urgent tone he insisted that she drop everything and go to the hospital immediately. Getting the blood flowing back to the part of the brain that is affected is critical. So Swisher took a car to the Hong Kong ER.
A screen clearly showed a stroke
The stroke showed up on a screen: Evidence of a transient ischemic attack, a mini-stroke, was clearly visible. There was a small hole in her heart through which the clot traveled, plus Swisher had a type of blood that is more prone to clotting. Combined with not hydrating or walking around enough on the long flight to Hong Kong, it created what the doctor called a hole in one. He immediately started the treatment of anticoagulant drugs and medication. The doctor, who told her that had she not moved faster it would have been much worse.
Swisher was lucky to have had a brother who saved her life—or at least the quality of her life.
Strokes in younger people are very rare
About seven in one million Americans under age 50 die annually from strokes caused by a blocked blood vessel, and nine per million die from a brain hemorrhage, the two main types of strokes.
Arterial dissection. The lining of an artery tears and separates from the vessel wall. A blood clot forms at the site of the tear and travels to the brain, eventually blocking the flow of blood to brain tissue.
Knowing the symptoms can help prevent serious damage
Unlike Kara Swisher, not all of us have a doctor brother who can provide virtual medical advice. Nerve cellsin the brain tissue communicate with other cells to control body functions, including memory, speech and movement.When you have a stroke, your brain isn’t getting the blood it needs, so your memory, speech and movement are affected. You need treatment as soon as possible to lower your chances of brain damage, disability or even death.
Recognize stroke symptoms
If you feel the kinds of symptoms that Kara Swisher did—numbness and tingling—be aware that you could be experiencing the initial symptoms of a stroke. This easy test will help determine if you need to immediately get to the emergency room.
Face: Smile and see if one side of the face droops.
Raise both arms. Does one arm drop down?
Speech: Say a short phrase and check for slurred or strange speech.
Time: If the answer to any of these is yes, call 911 right away and write down the time when symptoms started.
How to lower the risk of stroke? Adopt healthy habits
Lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Eat a healthy diet.
If you drink, do it in moderation.
Treat atrial fibrillation.
Have regular medical checkups.
Many of our clients are seniors who come in to our offices to create their Living Trusts
According to Inc. Magazine, there are now more than 76,000,000 Americans reaching the age of 60 and beyond, “and it seems they either can’t or don’t want to stop working.” An article in The Atlantic points out that employment in America of those aged 65 and older doubled between 1977 and 2007 and continues to climb. The employment landscape for those 60 and older has changed dramatically over the last decade. Employers are finding a lot of good reasons to hire older workers.
Seniors in the Workplace: Is 60 the New 40?
Another factor in the growth of seniors in the workplace is the changing nature of work; we can be productive far longer than in earlier eras. Sixty may be the new 40. Some jobs require cognitive skills that actually improve with age. According to a research paper entitled “Population Aging and Comparative Advantage,” these skills include technical writing, human resources management and numerous other disciplines.
The economics of retirement
The fabled retirement that Americans worked for and enjoyed decades ago may no longer be an option for today’s seniors. It’s increasingly rare to find an organization, even a union company, which offers a pension on which it is sufficient to live. Improved healthcare means that people are living longer. They’re taking care of themselves, eating better diets, exercising and remaining physically and mentally engaged. This longer lifespan requires more money.
Many seniors want to continue working
Also consider that an older person who may have enough money to live comfortably may want to work. Older people may be just as eager to contribute as they were when they were twenty. For many seniors, retirement just doesn’t work. They like the structure of having a place to go every day. They like the relationships, the sense of belonging. The mental stimulation that’s part of sharing ideas and problem-solving.
Consider the numerous benefits an older employee may provide. They:
Are a steady and reliable source of skilled labor.
Offer decades of relevant experience and, if they enjoy health coverage, may offer the experience you require for less money than a younger candidate requiring full benefits.
Offer your younger employees valuable mentoring at no cost.
Are more comfortable than younger candidates with flexible hours. Many seniors are happy to work part-time.
Are not aggressively seeking to advance their careers at this point in their lives. You probably won’t have to worry about their playing political games that can spoil office environments.
Offer stability. Turnover is expensive for every company.
Are experienced problem solvers, seasoned and more engaged – they want to be involved, focused on tasks.
More technological savvy than you think. Boomers are comfortable using computers. Where there are skill gaps, they can learn.
Will appreciate an opportunity to work. Loyalty is a valuable commodity.
Represent a large segment of the buying public and know that market better than the rest of your team.
Already know what they’re good at.
Remember that many veterans are in this age group, and hiring those who have served in the military may contribute to your company’s ethos and brand.