Moving is tough. But if your parent moves to a retirement community, his or her "wish list" may be shorter than you'd think. And your parent's "must-haves" may have little to do with the building's age or decor.
In both vintage and spanking brand new communities, I've watched Boomers and staff team together to make their elders' dreams come true.
A 90-something woman said: "I can't live without baking cookies to give away." She kept the flame of her baking passion alive in her new retirement community, thanks to a toaster oven which baked eight cookies at a time. On Wednesday, baking day, the aroma of chocolate, vanilla and other sweet ingredients wafted down the hall. On Thursday she fed residents and staff, as well as feeding her own soul.
A gardener who by his own admission was older than dirt said: "My green thumb keeps me sane. I have to plant." He and his daughter chose a retirement apartment at ground level. He planted annuals and bulbs, and enjoyed watching his garden grow.
A self-proclaimed standup comedian at 85 said: "I want to make people laugh." Procuring a tutor at his new retirement community, he learned to surf the Internet, finding corny jokes to add to his already hefty store of humor, culled from a lifetime.
Even more than living in beautiful surroundings, these seniors wanted to continue to do their favorite things, and be themselves. As adult children, it's our job, not to worry so much about creating a fairytale perfect world for our parents, but to help make their simple dreams come true.
"Look beyond the chandelier," says Marcia Byrd, Executive Director of Patriots Glen, a cozy assisted living community in Bellevue, Washington, not too far from mine. I couldn't have said it better. Simple pleasures don't always come in glitzy packages.
Does your parent have a skill, pasttime or passion that feeds his or her soul? Try to enable your parent to continue it, even in a new setting.