Tomorrow it will be two weeks since I made a deposit on an apartment in a local continuing care retirement community. That gives me another two weeks before I either have to back out and get my deposit back or move forward with a full down payment. At this point, I still feel good about my decision and doubt seriously that I will change my mind before the down payment is due.
For ten years, I taught a Sunday school class of seniors that were mostly ten or more years older than I. During that time quite a number contemplated such a move and found it a hard one to make. I understand that, but I have felt quite differently about it. When Kate was first diagnosed, I had my personal preferences regarding her care. I wanted to keep her at home, but I also felt I should keep all my options open. I have not changed that position. After all, there was, and still is, no way I could predict what our circumstances might be like in the years ahead.
Kate’s diagnosis changed a lot of my thinking. The first was that I immediately began to reinterpret everything she was doing. I finally understood her behavior was result of her Alzheimer’s. That made me significantly more understanding. It also placed her care at the center of my life. That doesn’t mean that I gave up doing all the things l like, but it did mean that everything I have considered doing since then has taken her care into account. Until the past six to eight months, I’ve been able to do that by focusing on things we can do together and engaging a sitter to give me twelve hours a week for myself. As she has declined, I’ve been increasingly concerned about what would happen to her if something happened to me. I don’t have any existing health issues, but Kate and I are at about the same as our parents when they began to show signs of diminished health.
Thus, my decision to explore a CCRC was heavily motivated by a desire to establish a plan for Kate should I experience a major health problem. I am happy to say that I immediately felt better when I put down a deposit. Even though the new building won’t be ready for almost two years, we will have access to other benefits of the community like the adult day care, assisted living, or memory care. In other words, my decision has opened up another set of options that were not previously in place.
But that isn’t the only reason I feel comfortable. For many years, Kate and I have felt we wanted to make life as easy as possible for our children as we age. I believe taking this step accomplishes just that. We had already taken some steps to make them aware of what they would need to know if one or both of us were to die. They have all of our financial, medical, and legal information as well as the contact information they would need. I feel that moving to a CCRC would be an added measure of security for us and for them.
There are several other things that were also relevant. I had already decided I didn’t want to remain in our house after Kate is gone. I don’t enjoy all the things that are required to care for a house and lawn. I can hear my friends saying, “Wait a minute, don’t you already have a housekeeper and people who take care of the yard?” That is true, but they don’t do everything that needs to be done. Besides, I still have to manage everything. I would rather have someone else do that for me even if it isn’t done exactly as I would like it or on my time table. My dad lived to be 100 and was active until his stroke at 96. I, too, want to be active. Having an apartment rather than a house will allow me to focus on other priorities.
I doubt that I would have made the decision if there had been an available apartment when I sought information. As it is, I have time to get ready. It gives me two years to close the home we have lived in for twenty-two years. The fact that the building is two years away also gives me plenty of time to reconsider my decision. I feel secure, but not locked in.