Gil’s Mom has severe osteoporosis plus macular degeneration; two serious
health problems. Our goal was to find a nearby residence that would give
her a social life and provide physical security.
We started by thinking about her outgoing and friendly personality and
well-tested resiliency, as well as her current active social life centered on
She had created a good life; could it be replaced it something positive?
How accurate were her fears about her vision? Would she be accepted into the
all important card games? Would she be able to navigate a new environment
she had no visual memory of? No answers but we shared her concerns.
The Internet provided a way to compile and assess places available. I
started the elimination process: too fancy, too much focus on activities
like golf, no poker, and expensive buy-ins.
What exactly do you call independent living with some help? Why isn’t it
assisted living? I started making phone calls. I was asked about dementia,
mobility and skills of daily living. So the next move was to contact her
primary physician (we have medical power of attorney) and asked her for
advice. She was direct and clear and would fill out the required medical
As it turned out, not only did we reject places but not every place wanted
her; at 93, she wouldn’t she “fit into the ‘life style’.” Places catering
to people in their 60s and 70s were focused differently than those that
housed people in their late 80s, 90s or over 100. Income, education, social
background and interests play a major role. There were places with their
own chefs and villas or modest one-room units with kitchen staff, as well as
real and important differences in care options, skill levels and numbers of
staff and amenities.
The Internet search narrowed to five places to visit within a 30-minute
drive because consistent advice said “as close to you as possible.” What
differences! From upscale to dingy; from cold, empty halls to warm,
friendly interaction; and, from concerts and elegant dining out to mall
shopping and card games.
The last place we looked at felt right. With its well-located, sunny,
one-bedroom unit, it provides meals, activities and has a well developed
social integration system. Residents are part of a welcome committee. The
casual friendliness was everywhere we walked.
Available on its grounds are additional care, a rehab and assisted living
facility. We can arrange for someone to come every mornings to help her
shower, start breakfast and get her going safely. If she needs more help,
it’s there. The place looks right for now and we hope for the long term.
The sales person at the facility, her doctor in Florida and most
importantly, Gil’s Mom think this level of place and care will work for now.
The unit will be freshly painted and new carpeting installed. My daughter
and I will decorate it and get it move-in ready. We want her to move into
space that feels comfortable and attractive.
The next step is finding the right doctors, transferring all of her medical
records, medication needs, arranging for her morning daily care and tackling
Medicare. Another mixed bag of things that need doing that will take time,
tenacity and care.
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.