I live in a senior community and sometimes I get too involved with everyone’s troubles. Even though I want to be friendly with everyone, I can get to feeling overwhelmed by too much socializing. Sometimes I just want to be alone.
—Wishing to be alone
Dearie: I don’t live in senior housing now and what she’s talking about is exactly one of the reasons I want to stay in my own home.
Barbara: Mama, have you really thought about it – thought it through like that?
Dearie: Sort of. Not so much about the people and making new friends, more just about wanting to stay in my own home where I feel comfortable.
Barbara : Of course, I know you’re not ready to make that kind of a big change. But you know, the interactions and the relationships are a big part of moving into one of these communities. I think this is an important question and not something that is given enough consideration.
Dearie: What do you mean? People I know who have moved into an assisted living go for an interview and meet other people there. They check out the place. The few friends I have who have made the move seem to be doing alright.
Barbara: But the question is how close do you want to get to these people. How much do you want to know about each other. Everyone is living in pretty close quarters. It’s like neighbors but even closer. In lots of communities you’re eating meals together two or three times a day, going on outings, sitting together at programs. It’s a lot of closeness.
Dearie: But isn’t that the point to be able to get some help if you need it and everyone says it’s important to not become isolated.
Barbara: Yes, yes, yes. All of that. But what kind of friendships do you have in a place like an assisted living where people haven’t known each other over a long time. And maybe you are there for only a little while.
Dearie: Isn’t that the saddest thing?
Barbara: Yes, it could possibly be the last place someone will ever live and it is a little sad. You know there’s a big discussion about whether old people should be with just old people – age segregation. It’s not a very realistic way to live.
Dearie: But what else to do. Long time ago grandparents moved in with their children. I know that I won’t do that. I don’t want to burden you.
Barbara: Hard to know what to do. There aren’t always good choices, it’s not the easiest time of life.
Dearie: We’ll figure it out. We always have. I love you
Barbara: Love you too, mama