Sunday, January 13, 2013
Treating Old People Right
In earlier blogs I've written of driving my mother from California out to Missouri so that she might visit her brother and jointly celebrate her 75th birthday. During that visit I was most impressed by the little senior community where my Uncle Floyd was residing.
Situated in a park like setting were these little white cottages, all designated for seniors. The little cottages had one bedroom, bath, a small kitchen, a small dining alcove and a decent size living room. The entire home could not have been over 600 square feet but it was a lovely and efficient little cottage for a senior who has given up much of the material trappings of life and has chosen to live simply, and at one with nature.
These homes were made available for seniors by the state of Missouri and rent was assessed based on the senior's income. I believe my Uncle Floyd was paying around $135 dollars per month and that included utilities. Any time a repair was needed that too was taken care of by the management.
My Uncle Floyd had a lovely large old tree in front of his cottage and he drove to Walmart occasionally to buy huge bags of bird seed. During my visit I accompanied him out to the front yard and watched his eyes sparkle and his lips turn upward in smile as he threw fistfuls of bird see around that big tree. Soon the birds were flitting about his front yard, singing their unique morning songs.
Just a few feet away, down a short sidewalk lived my Aunt Francis who also lived here, having lost her husband a few years before. My Uncle Floyd and Aunt Fanny had the pleasure of sharing a morning cup of coffee, perhaps an hour of reminiscing, and could easily retreat to their own respective cottages as they wished.
Should the extended family wish to visit, this little senior community had a community center, fully furnished with a large kitchen and eating area. This area allowed seniors to host large family gatherings and feed them in comfort.
Freed from the worries of secure, safe and affordable housing, my Uncle Floyd was free to drive out into the country, exchange pleasantries with an egg farmer, then bring back a couple of dozen farm fresh eggs. I accompanied him one morning to the egg farm and enjoyed the country atmosphere and serenity of small town Missouri.
When Uncle Floyd wanted to escape domesticity he hooked up his boat, grabbed his fishing and camping gear and headed off to nearby or far off lakes for a few days of fishing.
And since pretty girls are the spice of life Uncle Floyd enjoyed a plethora of lovely nieces and grand-nieces who came to visit and fawn over him.
After visiting my Uncle and Aunt, after sharing several delicious meals, and hours and hours of family remembrances, my mom and I prepared to leave for our return trip to California. As we waved goodbye I couldn't help but feel gratified that two of my beloved senior relatives were taken care of so well by the state of Missouri.
I thought about how complex and difficult and regulatory the state of California must impose on their senior housing programs. The state of Missouri has been able to provide modest little homes for their seniors, at minimal cost, and by having the senior pay a little, preserves the senior's pride.
Missouri seems to know how to treat old people right, leaving them to live in peace and safety, and not making them feel like society's "victims". What a lovely idea.