Dear Mary
I want to go home, to my real home!

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Dear Mary,

We are two ladies both in our 90's.  We are for the most part in good shape, active and well.  We both have a similar problem.  We both have moved from our homes into a senior's residence.  We really did not have any choice about it. Our names are Ruth and Lizzy.

My name is Ruth and my daughter lives in California and she thought it would be better that I move somewhere, where I could be with other seniors and be taken care of better than living on my own.  She thought that a place near my son would be a good idea.   I have been in this place for three years and it is ok, but I so miss my old neighbourhood and easy access to the theatre and downtown living.   I now live in a senior's home that is about 80 minutes from the core of the city.  I like the city and enjoyed going to the opera and symphony.  I have no way of going to these fun, familiar places now.  My son will not drive me and the taxi fare would be far too expensive.  My old gang continues to take the subway to these events without me.  I use to love to take the subway and then we would all go out for dinner.  I cannot do that now.  This makes me very sad and I feel so isolated here.  Although I am physically closer to my son, my move is more convenient for him and his lifestyle that mine.  Seems my wishes take a back seat to his needs now.

My name is Lizzy.

I lived in another part of the country until a year ago.  One of my daughters had been living with me and took care of me.  She was 56 and died suddenly.  My other daughter decided that I should move closer to her, so I moved.  I too miss my old friends, shops and had a wonderful social life.  I had many new and old friends there.  It is really hard to give up what you have known and loved for over 50 years and move on, not necessarily forward.

Don't get us wrong, the place where we are living in is fine.  It is clean and the food is ok.  The problem is that as we age, it seems that our opinions and needs have to fit into other people's lifestyles.  We both think that our adult children were not really thinking of us when they moved us miles and miles away from our former / real lives.  Well, it is not ok.  We are here, but we want to be back where we were and stay in our old communities with our friends with whom we developed great relationships.

Moving and change are very hard on older people.  Our adult children made great speeches about how wonderful things would be and how they would come to visit all the time.  They do come fairly often, but not nearly as often as if we had our old friends to drop by to check on us and mostly visit with us.  I think that many seniors give into their adult children's wishes too much.  They see us as weak and easy to persuade.   They force their lives onto us, making us fit into their busy lives.  We both think that we would be happier to live in a similar senior's home back in our old cities and neighbourhoods.  Being physically close to family does not really always matter. We are starting to make new friends here, but it is often “clicky” and sometimes hard to make new friends.  What do you think we should do?

Dear Ruth and Lizzy:

I so enjoyed our conversation. My only suggestion to you is:

Keep telling your story and how you feel. It may not change your worlds, but it may affect others who read this column. You are both great ladies, and it was my honour to meet and chat with you.

Mary

N.B.

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Ruth and Lizzy at a senior’s home. We sat in the lounge and chatted about their lives and their issues. I have taken the liberty of highlighting interesting parts of our conversation to share in my Dear Mary column. I think that what they had to say was very interesting and indeed very important. In my column, it is interesting to hear from not just family caregivers, but also from those who are being cared for. The reason I am posting their thoughts is to encourage family caregivers to think about how important our decisions and recommendations are to those for whom we care.

By the end of our conversation we had talked alot about the choices of staying or moving back to their old neighbourhoods. Both agreed that they would be happier there, but also openly acknowledged that it would never happen. This made us all quiet, sad and reflective of their situations. I hope that as you read their stories, please be mindful of how important and life changing our decisions and opinions are, for those for whom we care and love.

Mary

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Caregiving Matters

Mary is a daughter. She also Chairs our charity. Mary has also held Director roles on three other boards, most recently with The Palcare Network of York Region.

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