This February, I lived in a retirement community—though thirty years younger than my fellow neighbors. As mom’s post-hip replacement caretaker, I bunked with her for ten days. It was a little like living in a dorm for senior citizens. Lobby. Elevator. Dining hall. Mail boxes with keys. I have to admit that in the past, this place made me uncomfortable. But since I had to live there, I had plenty of time to reflect and recognize the UPside of this unique “vacation” lodging.
I realized . . .
Social Media is not the only way to be Social
Senior groups gather in the lobby by 6:30 am for coffee and conversation. My fellow dorm mates do not carry a cell phone. It was no “snap” chat, residents always lingered for their social meet and greet. They are not photographing their meals or taking selfies. They are living in every moment they have. Social Media? Non-existent. Face time is just what it is. Face to face. This generation connects.
Don't Take Health for Granted
I can run up and down the steps instead of taking their eternally slow elevator. I can jump in the car and whip up to the front of the lobby and move three times their speed. When I ran through the lobby, shoe less, they smiled. I felt so YOUNG and celebrated my ability to move.
It made me pull my shoulders back at the site of all the curved osteoporosis spines. I considered that more weight bearing exercise would be a good idea. Greens. Yogurt. Calcium. I stepped lively at the site of walkers rolling along and made a note to keep up with balance. I have time to make healthy choices.
I Can Put Myself in Time Out.
In their stage of life the movement of time is not important. Irrelevant perhaps. As a matter of fact, if it moves slower, that’s probably better. There is no hurry. After all, why would you want your life to move faster? What would you be racing toward? Whether dinner is ready in five or ten or sixty minutes doesn’t matter. Waiting for it means hanging out with friends. when the snow fell, they enjoyed it, never worrying about driving or walking outside. I, too, could probably slow down and appreciate life at a slower pace. A little Time Out.
Find Joy in the Sandwich Generation
Mom was an amazing patient, I hope someday I model being a good patient, and that my girls are patient with me. Mom's recovery was so smooth that at the end of my stay, Mom was showing off to her peers and getting bossy with me. It was time to go home to my girls. When I came home from helping my mom, I was greeted by my two college girls home on spring break. One wanted to cook meals and the other had completely disinfected my bio-hazard refrigerator.
It was nice to be a kid again, my Mom's daughter, the youngest in the retirement complex. And the UPside of getting older is really an UP when those older and younger celebrate life at every stage and age.