“I must admit, this place is very nice Marilyn, but Charlie and I would never sell the house.” Hazel hoped that Charlie wouldn’t get any ideas, but still, a compliment on Marilyn and Lloyd’s place was long overdue. They took a seat in the living room. It was small, but well appointed, with a beautiful view of the courtyard. “We thought the same thing Hazel, but it finally came down to where we wanted to be in five, ten, maybe even fifteen years. We wanted to be each other’s partners, not each other’s caregivers.” Hazel was quiet as this sank in. Marilyn always had great perspective.
Charlie saw the wheels in Hazel’s head turning and saw his opportunity. “Hey Lloyd, I noticed that they are having cribbage time down at the pub right now.” Hazel interjected right away, “Charlie, you are on medication and I’ll be damned if I let you go down to the pub right now for a drink.” Charlie sighed, “I’m not going to drink you silly worry wort, but I am going to teach this gentleman a lesson in crib.” Lloyd and Charlie enjoyed some competitive banter, and seeing no further objection from the ladies, they quickly made their exit.
Hazel sighed. “You know what Marilyn, I had always thought that when the time came, I’d be able to handle taking care of Charlie if need be. But the past week…” Hazel trailed off. “I’m a nurse by training, and here I am overwhelmed trying to keep up with everything. This isn’t like me.” She felt a little embarrassed admitting it. Marilyn gave an encouraging smile, “That’s exactly what Lloyd and I wanted to avoid. I want to be his wife, to be desired as his partner and not stuck wiping his behind.” Marilyn was never subtle with her words. She began pouring tea into Hazel’s cup, “When we were in Mexico two summers ago, we decided that we wanted to enjoy growing old together in a positive way. You never know how much time you have left to enjoy.” Hazel sipped from her teacup, feeling frustrated.
Had she and Charlie waited too late to start thinking about all this? She wasn’t even sure what she and Charlie wanted, or what they needed. Did they qualify for a place like this? What were the rules around how people were housed where? Hazel stopped herself, as she DID know Charlie wanted to move. She just wasn’t sure she was ready. Maybe Marilyn had some answers for her. “What do they call this sort of place? It isn’t just an apartment building, and it’s certainly not a nursing home.” If she were to move (and it was a big if), this would be what she would want. She explained further, “I don’t want a hospital bed and nurses running around me all the time. Charlie might need that, but I certainly don’t.” Marilyn laughed, but not at Hazel’s expense. “Charlie is far from needing a hospital bed. This place is what some would call ‘combined living.’ There’s all these silly terms out there when you go reading the brochures and visiting websites. It’s all so confusing. There’s independent living, and retirement living, and continuing care, and supportive living, and long term care, and seniors self-contained…and everyone will market themselves a certain way using their own made-up terms.” Marilyn shook her head as she remembered how frustrating it was when she and Lloyd were looking at places, but continued, “Combined living is where you can live independently like we do, but if you ever need additional supports, you can get them here…you don’t have to change buildings, you just simply access the services you need as required.”
Hazel was already confused and overwhelmed. This was EXACTLY why she hated even thinking about it all. She could think of better things to do with her time than reading through a ton of information trying to understand it all. If you decided to move into seniors housing to make life simpler, why did they have to go about making it so hard for people to understand? Still, what Marilyn had said earlier about being a spouse instead of a caregiver really resonated with her.
How should the rest of the story go? Do you have any suggestions? Please share them below in the comments. Should Charlie and Hazel research their options, or arrange for a meeting with the Site Manager?