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Issues of Aging, Housing, and Social Happiness
Old 10-25-2010, 04:17 PM   #1
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Issues of Aging, Housing, and Social Happiness

I met a very vigorous 82 year old man through my RE agent, who was showing me a unit in his building. His unit was also for sale, and I offered to help her carry out some debris from a clean-up they had done. He has been widowed for many years, and has lived in this building for 12 years or so. He decided that he was getting isolated, and he chose to move to a retirement complex. It didn't really make any sense to me, since he liked his building and his friends and neighbors there, and he had plenty mobility to get around to grocery stores, coffee shops, etc., even though he no longer drives due to vision issues.

He moved farther out to a nice retirement place, and seemed to be happy. But yesterday he told me that he was moving back to the old neighborhood, but not into his still unsold unit. He wants to live in an apartment, one street up but the same neighhhborhood. He said the assisted living was just a bunch of people waiting to die. He wants to be proactive but he got a bit ahead of himself. I think he figures that with no upkeep responsibilites, an occasional housekeeper, maybe pay someone to do laundry he can live free until the end. Plenty of restaurants around for meals. Money is not a problem. I know it is a lot more fun to visit an older friend in an apartment or condo than in one of those aging places. They are just hard to take. They even smell bad.

Seems to me that he is trying to be responsible, yet keep his life pleasant as long as possible.

My ex's parents are perhaps the other pole. Again, plenty of money, but they cannot make a move that would make things very much better for everyone, due to conflict avoidance. In their 90s they live in a suburban house that would be a challenge for much younger people- house way up from the sidewalk, steps with no railings, steep driveway, dangerous concrete basement steps, etc, no public transportation and too frugal to use cabs. He is still a pretty good driver at 97, but she is a terror that should not be on the road. Ex MIL grew up poor and tough, and I think she still imagines herself to be poor and tough, rather than well to do and old and frail.

I am not yet 70, and have no real impediments, but I would not buy in a building, and likely would not even rent in a building, that did not have good elevators.

Aging is not fun to think about, but there are good ways and not so good ways, I think. I knew old single men out in the country who were very independent-(cussed they were called) - but these guys didn't need much, and they really didn't mind if one day they died and no one knew for a few days. That works if you kit that description.

Ha
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:02 PM   #2
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Aging is not fun to think about, but there are good ways and not so good ways, I think. I knew old men out in the country who were very independent-(cussed they were called) - but these guys didn't need much, and they really didn't mind if one day they died and no one knew for a few days.
Ha
You do raise a question we all might not want to contemplate. My mother is in a retirement home and it is not a great existence. It was better when she was able to go out on trips with others in the home. But she has been on a steady decline. It is a routine of waking, eating, sleeping, medication. Now she is on multiple pills to make her actions acceptable to those around her. None of us liked the idea but because of aging issues the doctors, home and us decided it was the only option. That is one extreme. You are talking about the road to that point.

I remember when I was a youth, I would go to the park and see older men at the tables playing chess, pinochle, boccie or poker for pennies. They walked to the park. I would go the park over the years as I grew up and that life disappeared. It became a dead empty place. I think crime, neighborhood changes, and death ended all that over the years.

I think one of the reasons that men die earlier than women is the lack of social support and I don't see that changing. We crave community but television, and the internet have isolated us in our apartments. I don't see that changing.

The answer is in the book "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor" Your happiness is your responsibility so get to it. However, we are all saddled with our personalities. And as such your personality traits makes the work easier or harder. As such, I think we are heavily influenced by concepts in predeterminism.

Predeterminism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Part of the answer is community. An place where you know some people, they know you, you want to improve and enjoy it. How you find that place; I do not know.

Personally, I would like not to think/worry/angst about the future etc. I would like to be one of those people who belly laugh at Jay Leno, David Letterman or Two and a Half Men.


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Old 10-25-2010, 05:09 PM   #3
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The isolation I am experiencing is the main reason I have decided to move to a larger town close to relatives and with more opportunities for some meaningful volunteer work
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:22 PM   #4
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Nice post. I intend to do everything possible to keep me and/or DW from going into a home before it is absolutely necessary. I want to wear that "cussed" badge proudly!
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:51 PM   #5
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Great comments. Here is an excellent review of an excellent Norwegian movie. There is a lot here that goes beyond how does a man grow old well-such as Norwegian/ Swedish conflicts and high latitude humor, but it is also a really good movie about men trying to be real and be known and make friends in not so easy ciucumstances. The name is Kitchen Stories

Kitchen Stories (2003) - IMDb user reviews

Ha
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:56 PM   #6
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I luckily come from a long line of tough old Irish women . Most of the women in my family lived to be late 90's or early 100's and none have been in nursing homes . They have needed assistance with care from family or hired care but no nursing assistants . They need help to get to their regular pinochle game and hairdresser appointment but no nursing care . I hope I have the same genes. My Mom was in the hospital at 93 to have a knee replacement and the nurse was quizzing her to see how orientated she was . She started with easy questions ( What day is it ) and made them increasingly harder until my Mother got annoyed and asked her if she knew the answer . She did not so the interrogation was over !
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:00 PM   #7
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... but television, and the internet have isolated us in our apartments. I don't see that changing.
Such a pessimistic slant! If it comes about that we are alone in our apartments, we won't be completely isolated, because of TV and the internet. (If we can keep our eyesight, anyway.)
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:17 PM   #8
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My parents lived next door to a man in his mid-80's. He was very active when younger, but age had taken its toll. He was largely immobile but refused to move into with his children or a nursing home. He would get into his car and drive down the driveway in order to get his mail. Even then he would bump into trees and the curb.

Once day his son came over to check up on him because he had not heard from his father for over a week. He went inside and found that the old man had passed away, his body lying next to the pool. He had been dead for at least a week and no one had noticed.

It was a sad way to go, but in a way, he went out the way he wanted---fighting to be independent to the very end.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:32 PM   #9
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I'm 60 and have at most 10 more years of independent living ahead.

I've started negotiating with some younger 'net friends to live near them, so I can be alone as I want and have some help if necessary.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:47 PM   #10
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I now live in a co-op building where a resident in their 50s is thought of as young, several are well into their 90s. Once could say it is a self funded continuing care residence.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:52 PM   #11
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My parents lived next door to a man in his mid-80's. He was very active when younger, but age had taken its toll. He was largely immobile but refused to move into with his children or a nursing home. He would get into his car and drive down the driveway in order to get his mail. Even then he would bump into trees and the curb.

Once day his son came over to check up on him because he had not heard from his father for over a week. He went inside and found that the old man had passed away, his body lying next to the pool. He had been dead for at least a week and no one had noticed.

It was a sad way to go, but in a way, he went out the way he wanted---fighting to be independent to the very end.
I'd rather go that way than in one of those homes.
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Old 10-25-2010, 07:08 PM   #12
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Excellent subject to think about and plan for. I have mentioned before that Hubby and I both worked in the Long Term Care industry. This experience has shaped what we do and do not want for our advanced old age. We plan to age in place as long as its safe and have taken steps to make that happen. The last thing we want is the over 55 community thing, assisted living or a Nursing Home.

Don't get me wrong we will grudgingly accept placement in one of those places but it is really a last resort and only if our safety is compromised.
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Old 10-25-2010, 07:08 PM   #13
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He had been dead for at least a week and no one had noticed.
It was a sad way to go, ...
Why was it sad?
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Old 10-25-2010, 07:18 PM   #14
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Why was it sad?
Sad if it took a while to die. Not if it was quick.
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Old 10-25-2010, 07:20 PM   #15
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I met a very vigorous 82 year old man through my RE agent, who was showing me a unit in his building. His unit was also for sale, and I offered to help her carry out some debris from a clean-up they had done. He has been widowed for many years, and has lived in this building for 12 years or so. He decided that he was getting isolated, and he chose to move to a retirement complex. It didn't really make any sense to me, since he liked his building and his friends and neighbors there, and he had plenty mobility to get around to grocery stores, coffee shops, etc., even though he no longer drives due to vision issues.

He moved farther out to a nice retirement place, and seemed to be happy. But yesterday he told me that he was moving back to the old neighborhood, but not into his still unsold unit. He wants to live in an apartment, one street up but the same neighhhborhood. He said the assisted living was just a bunch of people waiting to die. He wants to be proactive but he got a bit ahead of himself. I think he figures that with no upkeep responsibilites, an occasional housekeeper, maybe pay someone to do laundry he can live free until the end. Plenty of restaurants around for meals. Money is not a problem. I know it is a lot more fun to visit an older friend in an apartment or condo than in one of those aging places. They are just hard to take. They even smell bad.

Seems to me that he is trying to be responsible, yet keep his life pleasant as long as possible.

My ex's parents are perhaps the other pole. Again, plenty of money, but they cannot make a move that would make things very much better for everyone, due to conflict avoidance. In their 90s they live in a suburban house that would be a challenge for much younger people- house way up from the sidewalk, steps with no railings, steep driveway, dangerous concrete basement steps, etc, no public transportation and too frugal to use cabs. He is still a pretty good driver at 97, but she is a terror that should not be on the road. Ex MIL grew up poor and tough, and I think she still imagines herself to be poor and tough, rather than well to do and old and frail.

I am not yet 70, and have no real impediments, but I would not buy in a building, and likely would not even rent in a building, that did not have good elevators.

Aging is not fun to think about, but there are good ways and not so good ways, I think. I knew old single men out in the country who were very independent-(cussed they were called) - but these guys didn't need much, and they really didn't mind if one day they died and no one knew for a few days. That works if you kit that description.

Ha
Good thread. Good stories that make me think not only about the future but also the now.
Have a Mom and MIL nearby living in suburbs and trying to stay independent. I was trying to encourage them to leave the house for an apartment/ community (like they would listen to me). Now I am not so sure. These ladys are not in as good of shape mentally as your older friend sounds. What is good for the physical is not always good for the emotional. We will try to keep it running until the situations break, then hope for the best.

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I think one of the reasons that men die earlier than women is the lack of social support and I don't see that changing. We crave community but television, and the internet have isolated us in our apartments.
Man alone. Alone at work. Alone in retirement. We do crave that sense of community that many of us had when we were young but lost along the way. Now that we are retired, we have the task of fixing this situation for the sake of our happiness.

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The answer is in the book "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor"

Sounds like a good book. I will put it on the reading list.

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Old 10-25-2010, 07:44 PM   #16
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Old 10-25-2010, 11:15 PM   #17
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Boy, this thread hit a nerve.

After my Mom died very suddenly at age 73, my Dad continued a full, pleasant life for himself, living alone but often in the company of friends and family. Although the subject of moving to a retirement community came up on occasion, he had no interest in being surrounded by only old people, his words.

All was good. He was happy, going strong, and I fully expected to see his face on the Smucker's jar with Willard Scott celebrating his 100th birthday in a few years. Until this past February, when he was diagnosed with untreatable, advanced lung cancer - mesothelioma - which likely lay dormant for more than 40 years.

Now all bets are off. He wants to stay in his home as long as possible, and my brother and I are trying to honor his wishes, but day to day it's really hard. Ever changing meds, a constant schedule of doctor, visiting nurse, therapist, social worker and other appointments, combined with coping with just watching him change and weaken right before your eyes...and everyone knowing full well how this is going to end.

When my Mom died, it was like a light switch suddenly turned off...with Dad, it's akin to watching a candle burn down and start to flicker out. I'd take the light switch approach if I had a choice.
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Old 10-26-2010, 12:20 AM   #18
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Thanks for the reference. This was a good discussion.
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Old 10-26-2010, 05:21 AM   #19
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When my Mom died, it was like a light switch suddenly turned off...with Dad, it's akin to watching a candle burn down and start to flicker out. I'd take the light switch approach if I had a choice.
I wish I could send the right sympathetic vibe
We are in the last few weeks on my Mother right now.
My dad went at 87 like a light switch.
Do you know Ray Carvers poem?


MY DEATH
If I'm lucky, I'll be wired every whichway
in a hospital bed. Tubes running into
my nose. But try not to be scared of me, friends!
I'm telling you right now that this is okay.
It's little enough to ask for at the end.
Someone, I hope, will have phoned everyone
to say, "Come quick, he's failing!"
And they will come. And there will be time for me
to bid goodbye to each of my loved ones.
If I'm lucky, they'll step forward
and I'll be able to see them one last time
and take that memory with me.
Sure, they might lay eyes on me and want to run away
and howl. But instead, since they love me,
they'll lift my hand and say "Courage"
or "It's going to be all right."
And they're right. It is all right.
It's just fine. If you only knew how happy you've made me!
I just hope my luck holds, and I can make
some sign of recognition.
Open and close my eyes as if to say,
"Yes, I hear you. I understand you."
I may even manage something like this:
"I love you too. Be happy."
I hope so! But I don't want to ask for too much.
If I'm unlucky, as I deserve, well, I'll just
drop over, like that, without any chance
for farewell, or to press anyone's hand.
Or say how much I cared for you and enjoyed
your company all these years. In any case,
try not to mourn for me too much. I want you to know
I was happy when I was here.
And remember I told you this a while ago--April 1984.
But be glad for me if I can die in the presence
of friends and family. If this happens, believe me,
I came out ahead. I didn't lose this one.

by Raymond Carver, from Where Water Comes Together With Other Water (1985), and All of Us: The Collected Poems (1998)
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Old 10-26-2010, 07:16 AM   #20
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Excellent subject to think about and plan for. I have mentioned before that Hubby and I both worked in the Long Term Care industry. This experience has shaped what we do and do not want for our advanced old age. We plan to age in place as long as its safe and have taken steps to make that happen. The last thing we want is the over 55 community thing, assisted living or a Nursing Home.

Don't get me wrong we will grudgingly accept placement in one of those places but it is really a last resort and only if our safety is compromised.
DH and I didn't work for the LTC industry. We did, however, spend the last 15 years visiting his mother in a nursing home after a major stroke left her severely disabled. She passed away in her nursing home about 10 months ago. She was an independent, strong woman but ended up having all her choices removed after her stroke. It was heartbreaking. Like you, this experience shaped what we do and do not want.

My mother, who will be 80 soon, has done all she can to remain independent as long as possible. She lives in a ground floor condo near my brother and I. Shopping, doctors and a good hospital are all within a 15 minute drive of her place. It's a nice condo complex with a combination of young professionals, families with kids, and senior citizens. Mom's a friendly, outgoing person and has made lots of friends. She has long term care insurance so could opt for in home care if the need arises.

She still drives and does fine as long as she doesn't get on the high intensity interstate highways here in the DC suburbs. When she gets to the point of not being able to drive, she can arrange for grocery delivery from one of three nearby stores who offer the service and take short cab rides for other trips.
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