In my years working as a Social Worker and in Senior Living, I have seen most of the ways that aging can affect us. Some aspects are sweet like the appreciation and enjoyment we build for simple human connections. Others take away our sense of independence, dignity or have us clinging on to memories of the past.
While I relish the sweet aspects of aging, it is in spending time and connecting with seniors who find themselves in the dark spaces, that I find the special gifts of each person.
In 2018, I went to the home of a client, we will call her “Mrs. Z”. It was a beautiful Old-English style house in Chicago, a complete semblance of the inside where every inch of space was stacked floor to ceiling with Mrs. Z’ troves of the past. We spent hours going through each item, doing as what people call nowadays, a total Marie Kondo. Each item had an identity, but most did not directly relate to her own story. After days of cleaning out the house, we identified which treasures had the most value; I learned the stories behind each valuable, and Mrs. Z lightened her load. She was ready for the next chapter and finally looked forward to something new.
I value the time I spend with my clients, whatever this entails, whether cleaning out their homes, helping them schedule doctor appointments, coffee runs, facility tours or grocery shopping. Just the other day, I was helping a client pick up groceries. At the end of our trip, she said it was the best day of her year because she loved our conversations and that the groceries were just a reason to get in touch. Others, like this client and Mrs. Z, still hold an exuberance for life, but seek people with whom they can share it. It warms my heart that clients share their stories with me, but I am even more fulfilled when I can help them find their next chapter.
When I went to visit Mrs. Z at her new senior community home, I saw a shining transformation: she was making new friends and partaking in new hobbies that she never before thought of trying. Other clients told me how moving to a community brought them new friends, new conversations, and a revitalized outlook on life. It is because of this impact that I continue through Senior Living Specialists to ally and support members of our community to find involvement and care at an older age.
It is often hard to decide what is best for the future whether it relates to our aging selves or someone we love, but having a shoulder to lean on and the right information to make informed decisions enables us to build the best case scenario for the future – even during a time of crisis. I have years of developed expertise to answer your questions and help each family determine the best next steps. However, that is just the technical side of my job. The beauty in my work comes from the lasting relationships I build with each person and the efflorescence of each loved senior rediscovering themselves in a new home.