Before and afters show how we recreate the feeling of home
Almost anyone working in the senior industry has a fondness and respect from our own experience with beloved grandparents We see past their age and recognize they were and many still are, significant contributors to our society. One of the great frustrations of the American culture in general is the way we discard older adults. One of the things I love about our work is hearing the stories and seeing the pictures of our clients lives. The wisdom they impart contributes greatly to the way I now live.
Silver Linings Transitions has had the opportunity to work with judges, attorneys, retired service men, Ice Capade dancers, Hollywood directors and models. Last week I cohosted Bryan Devore's Facebook Live show promoting our upcoming event , Moving Towards Tomorrow, helping people gather the information they need to make decisions about their "Golden Years". One of the guests, a 92-year-old Las Villas de Carlsbad resident, was an original cast member from the Little Rascals. She was a total hoot and went on and on about how much she loved community living.
She clearly embraced it and took advantage of the many opportunities it affords. For many though, the fear of the unknown and the perceived loss of independence keeps them trapped in a home they can no longer maintain and often living in isolation.
The last client we worked with is a clear example of waiting too long. .
The Carlsbad community reached out about a 30 year retired Navy Captain who's wife was in skilled nursing while he was on dialysis and rapidly declining.
After meeting with him the next day, it was clear he needed to be moved into assisted living as soon as possible When we walked out of our appointment, I knew we were about to eat an elephant in one big bite but I also knew it was absolutely essential. He was very frail and struggled for breath yet insisted on climbing stairs.. He was unkempt wearing dirty clothes and the home smelled from rotten food, urine and poor hygiene.
Our team was already on a big job including unpacking in Tarzana and our regular mover was booked. Having recently disappointed a past community whose client need to be moved the next day, I admit I was trepidatious about doing another quick turnaround. But, I've learned sometimes you say yes because it's the right thing and then do whatever you have to do to make it happen. In the absence of proper preparation, we met with the client for only two very short floor planning and sorting sessions. It was clear he was overwhelmed so I asked if he would allow us to make decisions based on our experience moving other clients.
We carefully went through couples belongings selecting beautiful mementoes, photographs and personal items we thought were most important and/or loved. We also contacted the son who lived across country and identified the items most important to him.
The day of the move, the client was supposed to meet us in the lobby for an update since he didn't have a cell phone. He never showed. I'd left him a detailed note realizing he had some cognitive impairment but by 8 p.m that evening, he had still not arrived. At that point, I called the police and they told me neighbors were with him in his home which he believed had been robbed. (This man has been living independently and is still driving.)
He finally arrived at 12:25 a.m.
In the end, it's comforting to know the client is safe in his new community and we've created a new home that is clean, organized and closely resembles his old home. Had the move been made proactively, he might have enjoyed the perks of community living and the freedom from household responsibilities.
Jami Shapiro is a seasoned Realtor and Owner of Silver Linings Transitions. As a cancer survivor, she embraces aging and the challenges it presents.