By Ann Burnside Love
This story is about the unexpected way I moved into the beautiful retirement apartment I now call home. As a hint — although my daughter and I had planned every detail together — when the day came I never even saw the moving crew.
Yes, I was moving into the apartment layout I’d requested, and waited months until that model became available. Yes, it has a wonderful view. Yes, it has a bathroom for me, and one mostly for Vanessa, the cat. Yes, it has the perfect study for writing.
My day before moving was, like anyone’s, busy with last-minute details. My daughter and I spent the afternoon in my new home putting away all the items we had carried in previously: The contents for the kitchen cabinets and the linen closet, plus bathroom essentials. Tired, I drove home while my daughter went to pick up a pizza for our supper.
First thing at home, I checked phone messages — to discover a real estate agent had called earlier and would be showing my house at 7:30 p.m. It had just gone on the market — and they would be here in minutes. Excited, I immediately moved into action: Turn on lights, check bathrooms and kitchen, and get myself gone before they arrived.
The catch: I forgot that stroke victims shouldn’t rush. After turning on the second lamp, I turned to cross in front of the fireplace to the next lamp. However, my right foot caught in the carpet as I turned and I went crashing sideways, my head bouncing off a large vase and landing on the fireplace hearth. When I came to, I felt my right arm pinned under me, so I rolled enough to pull it out, noticing my right hand was at a weird angle to my arm. “That’s interesting!” I thought, and blanked out again.
The realtor and my daughter arrived soon after. Splitting tasks, the realtor called 911 for an ambulance while my daughter phoned my sons and got me ready to travel. Luckily, a fine surgeon was on call that evening, and took care of the compound fracture of my wrist and closed the head gash. I was in the hospital more than a week, then entered my chosen retirement community via the “back door” into the nursing/rehab unit where I spent three comfortable weeks, mostly in rehab or resting. Rehab therapists are tops, in my book!
Meanwhile, my four children had set up my apartment even better than I’d planned, ready for my arrival, and I was thrilled beyond words. By then I was aware that my experience was hardly unique. In all retirement communities a small number of new arrivals experience a health challenge between the months of signing up and moving in, and there are often a few in rehab before moving into their new homes.
A big safety difference is that retirement communities provide bracelets or hanging neck pendants connected to an alarm system, for all residents to wear 24/7 for their security. While I was quite fortunate to have been found quickly at my former home, here we do not have to rely on luck. We know that trained help is available immediately for any health urgency, one of the most important aspects of retirement living — both to us and to our families.
For many excellent reasons, my decision to no longer live alone has been a very good one. I hope you think seriously about your own living situation and consider your future options carefully. You, too, might opt for a pleasing new lifestyle with a wide variety of choices for your use of time. It’s YOUR life, after all! Carry on!