The following story is part of a joint project between myLifeSite and Senior Correspondent where we ask people to report on their senior living decision process. 

By Parker McLendon

My wife and I discovered that it was best to choose before we had to choose! Giving up a home and moving to a retirement community is a major adjustment, and it is easy to put it off until we are forced to choose. I’m glad we made a free and informed decision while we had control over the outcome, rather than waiting until we had to choose in crisis mode.

The timing of our move to Piedmont Crossing in Thomasville, N.C., proved to be providential. Three months after moving, my wife’s chronic illness became acute. She was in the hospital five times in six months, then at home in hospice care for four months before her demise.

In choosing a senior living campus, our highest priority was to find a caring community in which we could live interdependently. We didn’t need independent living — if so, we could have maintained our home. Piedmont Crossing administrators could not guarantee a caring community; only the residents can build a caring community. Nor could we expect to benefit passively from this caring community; we must invest ourselves in mutual relationships.

We wanted to stay in Davidson County to be near our friends, maintain our church membership, and honor our volunteer commitments. In exploring communities we began with Piedmont Crossing because of its excellent reputation. We were presented a plan that was financially feasible, so we needed to look no further. We called a family conference with our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and in-laws. We did not ask them to make the decision for us; we informed them of the physical and financial aspects, and asked them to support us in our decision (which they did).

Our biggest challenge was downsizing from a 2,400-square-foot house to a 950-square-foot apartment. Our two daughters shouldered the load of sorting, packing, and distributing our personal property. We found new freedom as we discovered that our accumulated possessions were still “just stuff” without ultimate value. It wasn’t as hard as we anticipated to let go of the unnecessary “stuff”!

Choosing senior living was much more than signing a contract. The new reality must be accepted, and a commitment made mentally and emotionally. The internalization of the decision led me to three simple commitments:

  1. I will live in the present. I have many memories of God’s guidance and providence as a foundation for faith, but I remember that when God blessed me, it was always in the here and now! I must continue to live in the here and now, responsive to God and the persons with whom I live.
  1. I will blossom where I am planted. Like a blooming rhododendron in the crevice of a rock cliff, I will live to the fullest where I am without begrudging my fellows their more favorable surroundings.
  1. I will play the hand I have been dealt. In the game of life, I am not responsible for the cards I have been dealt; I am responsible only for how I play them. Kenny Rogers said it best: “every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser.” I will make the most I can with what I have to work with.

“Choosing Senior Living” is a special series of myLifeSite (www.mylifesite.net) and Senior Correspondent. Share your firsthand account of the senior living decision-making process. Send articles of 400 to 600 words tosubmissions@seniorcorrespondent.com .

About Parker McLendon

Parker McLendon is an ordained Baptist minister who helped shape child care services in North Carolina. A native of DeLand, Florida, McLendon earned his bachelor’s degree at his hometown school, Stetson University. He went on to earn theology degrees at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., as well as a master’s degree in social work from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He served as a pastor and residential child care administrator before becoming executive director of the North Carolina Residential Child Care Association.

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