Maximizing time with loved ones
If there’s anything Lois Carney has learned since moving her 88-year-old father Arden Johnson into a retirement community, it’s that time is a valuable commodity.
“Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back,” she said.
For some time, Lois spent nearly every weekend commuting 160 miles round trip to provide basic care for her parents. While she enjoyed the visits with her parents, it was mostly spent doing tedious tasks such as preparing meals and cleaning.
Lois always wanted to move her parents closer and, after her mother passed away, she decided to actively seek retirement communities for her father. Lois toured Grasslands Estates, a Holiday Retirement community near her home in Wichita, Kan., and immediately felt at home.
“I really got good vibes,” she said. “I couldn’t get him over there fast enough. I knew he was just going to fall in love with this place.”
Holiday Retirement communities provide independent retirement living with private suites, chef-prepared meals, local transportation and housekeeping services, enriching activities and events, and more in one all-inclusive, month-to-rent rent.
Not only is Lois’ commute now significantly reduced, but her days with her father are spent enjoying meals together, regaling family stories, taking part in projects or playing games – simply maximizing their time together.
“We just love spending time with him,” Lois said. “And now we get to spend more of the fun time together, which is delightful.” Lois was initially mindful not to pressure Arden into making an immediate move when approaching him about touring Grassland Estates. Change can be difficult, and it’s important to make sure your loved ones are comfortable.
Thanks to the month-to-month rent that all Holiday Retirement communities offer, Arden was able to move in to Grasslands Estates and experience community life with no long-term obligations.
“I really wanted him to move there, but I didn’t want him to feel pressured,” Lois said. “I told him, ‘We won’t sell the house right away, and if you don’t like it, you can move back.”
Arden decided he would give Grasslands Estates a try, so Lois and family attempted to make the transition as smooth as possible for their father and allow him to feel comfortable in his new surroundings.
“We set his apartment up just like it looked at home with his TV out in front and night stand as close as it was at home,” Lois said. “He was only using the bedroom and living room so that made it easy.”
Naturally, it took time for Arden to fully adjust.
“He was just so sick,” Lois said. “I don’t think we realized how exhausted he was taking care of mom. He wouldn’t do anything but come down for meals and go back to bed and sleep. He wasn’t really interested in participating. That lasted a couple years.”
But the image of Arden today is much different. He’s one of Grassland Estates’ most involved residents – even serving on the community’s Welcoming Committee.
His health has steadily improved, thanks to regular healthy meals, activities, and social interaction. Arden is taking half the medication he was prior to joining the community.
“He’s got his health back and is really doing so much better,” Lois said.
He’s also come to enjoy the wide-array of activities and events offered at the community. That became apparent one evening when Lois tried to call her father.
“I had him call me when he got back from supper or lunch every day,” she said. “One time he didn’t call me after supper and I wondered if he forgot so I called his apartment and didn’t get an answer. I called the office to ask if they had seen him, and they said they were having a Bluegrass concert. Theychecked to see if he was there. Sure enough, he was in the front row.”
Arden is now so busy that Lois joked you have to make an appointment to see him. She eventually purchased a cell phone for him in order to reach him when he’s away from his apartment, which is quite frequent these days.
He takes part in monthly community outreach activities such as Goodwill donation trips and Meals on Wheels.
“He ended up serving as the community’s king in 2009,” Lois said. “Who would have thought of my dad doing that at 88? He’s doing something after supper every night now.”
In addition to improving the time spent with her father, Lois also enjoys the peace-of-mind in having her father nearby in a safe and secure environment.
Instead of being 80 miles away and living alone, Arden now has someone always looking out for him.
“That’s such a comforting feeling to know someone is around,” Lois said. “And when the weather gets bad, it’s so wonderful to know he has whatever he needs over there. He’s got meals cooked, a nice warm place with people around him, and I don’t have to worry about him getting stuck somewhere or scooping snow. It’s just a relief.”
The move to a retirement community has, most certainly, had a profound impact on Arden and his family. Are you relishing the time spent with your loved ones? If not, it may be time to consider the benefits of an alternative living option. Holiday Retirement has more than 300 communities across the U.S., and you are welcome to tour anytime at a location near you.