Nearly 80, Grandma still a good role model


Recently, a friend of mine told the story of how she and her husband had to trick her mother-in-law into entering a nursing home. The older woman had lived alone for years in the home she had shared with her husband. The idea of living in a nursing home was beyond anything she could bear.

So the couple took the older woman to the nursing home under the pretense that they were just visiting with the hope that she wouldn’t get too riled up when they left her there at the end of the day.

After she settled in, my friend said her mother-in-law didn’t fight the idea of a nursing home anymore and almost seemed happy there.

The happy ending doesn’t come every time, but the idea of a senior leaving his or her home and moving into an assisted living facility or nursing home is often scary for the senior and a struggle for the family.

Unfortunately, the changes that come with growing older leave many seniors to think they have lost their sense of self and ability to control their own lives. And in many situations that is the case.

The idea of growing old with grace came up unexpectedly Sunday night when my mom called to inform me that my grandma, who will be 80 in October, had put her name on a waiting list to move into an assisted living facility.

My grandma, who worked as a nurse in a nursing home, has taken the idea of growing old with grace to a whole new level for me.

Years ago, she made the decision to no longer drive at night, saying it was dangerous with her less-than-perfect eyesight.

A few years later, grandma sold her minivan and gave up her driver’s license, retiring the “PWatson” personalized license plate she had used for decades.

For the past several years, grandma has lived in a senior apartment complex built in the old high school — the same school from which she had graduated decades earlier.

So when my mom informed me that grandma was planning to move into an assisted living facility, I really wasn’t that surprised.

In fact, I was thinking of all the benefits she would have.

There are the meals that are prepared and waiting for her three times a day, the nurses who will sort her medications for her, and the abundance of social activities to which she’ll have access.

My grandma and my aunt toured the facility over the weekend and both agreed that my grandma should hold out for the one-bedroom apartment instead of the studio style.

And fortunately, grandma’s health is in a state where she doesn’t need to move into the facility in the next month.

If she has to wait six months for a room to open, she has that option. But at least she’s ready to make that next step in her life and is already eager to start sorting through her abundance of belongings.

I hope that if I’m able to live to that age, I can live my senior years with the grace, poise and acceptance my grandma has shown. No tricking required.


Shay Burk

Veteran Tribune reporter Shay Burk writes whatever is swirling around her mind each week. Read her columns on Tuesdays for her humorous thoughts on everyday life.

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