For over 60 years, my parents lived in the same house in Rome, GA. Boy, talk about people who did not want to move when the time came. My dad was 93 and mom was 84. And the time came. Mom was showing signs of Alzheimer's and, for her, taking care of dad, the house and cooking had become too much.
My husband Richard and I had to step in and firmly guide my father to select an independent and assisted living community in Rome. He did and they moved. We assumed power of attorney and sold the family home for them.
It was a good solution for my parents for a number of years. My father passed away after three years and my mother did well there for another three years. Then the community called to inform me that my mother would need to move to a community with memory care. I had 30 days to find her a new home.
At that point, I decided to move mom closer to us and we found a very nice community with memory care in Atlanta. I asked the community staff up front if there would be any reason that my mom would need to move out at some point and they assured me no. They said that with the help of Hospice, whenever their services would be needed, my mom would be able to stay.
Things went along fine for awhile. But mom eventually lost her sight since, at her age, she wasn't a good candidate for cataract surgery. Walking became too difficult. Hospice arranged for her to have a hospital bed in her room. Unknown to us that was a trigger event according to state regulations and the state fined the community. Soon the community told me I had 30 days to find a different home for my mother.
I knew mom needed skilled nursing at this point and found a good match. But it would be her third home in 9 or 10 years' time. She received very good care from a loving and dedicated staff for three years before she passed.
What did I learn from this long and, quite honestly, sad journey? First, you better make your own plan before someone has to make it for you. Second, health care is more complicated than I anticipated. I did not fully understand how health care works until I experienced the varying degrees of care with my mother.
Having travelled this journey with my parents, it became really clear to me and my husband that once we decided to make a move, we wanted to move once and not have to move again.
That's where our second journey, and thankfully a much more joyful one, began. Richard and I toured many different senior communities and once we chose Lenbrook, we joined the Advantage Club. By being a member, we got invited to parties and special events at Lenbrook. We stayed in the Club for nearly five years -- meeting people and having fun -- before we put our name on a waiting list for a particular floor plan. After 10 months on the list, we moved in. That was a year ago and we've never looked back.
We're more active now than we were in our home in Sandy Springs (we lived there 35 years). My husband is an incoming officer to Lenbrook's Resident's Association and three of his golf buddies now live here. I am incoming chair for New Resident Hospitality committee.
I often say that our friends outside of Lenbrook have no idea how much fun it is living here. So many of them say they want to stay in their homes, age in place. But, having travelled the journey I did with my parents, I prefer having our plan in place now. We moved here at age 77 and we believe it's one of the best gifts we could give our children.
Our 14-year-old granddaughter recently came to visit us and said, "I like ya'll living in a fine hotel." We like it too!
Barbara and Richard Conway moved to Lenbrook in 2016 and have been married for 59 years. They were high school sweethearts. She attended Shorter College and worked for Coca Cola and Richard attended Georgia Tech and made his career with Southern Company. They raised four children and are now enjoying their 12 grandkids and one great-grandchild.