Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Screen Doors and New Neighbors

Maintenance here at the CCC can be a two edged sword with one side sharper than the other. On the sharper side, the system for writing up service requests works well for those of us who are computer literate. With the exception of that time a maintenance man was on vacation and an office girl closed out the work order about my water without sending one of the guys around to check it out, I have no complains. And yet here I am finding something to get picky about---the dull side of the sword: They’re not good at giving us prior notice of when they’ll be stopping to do things.

This week I got an e-mail saying they’d be installing screen doors on our units starting next week, but two days later two guys showed up at my apartment with a box containing my screen door. I had just stepped out of the shower, had my hair wrapped in a towel and my heavy winter bathrobe was buttoned up to my neck so I said, “Okay.” I wasn’t going to fall into the trap of saying come back later because you get downgraded to the bottom of the list. They have their way of picking through jobs so they keep their tool carts in certain areas for as long as possible. Two hours late I had my brand new screen door in just in time to greet spring if it ever gets to my part of the world. 

Mine was the second one installed in the complex and the neighbor who got one that same morning wasn’t home when hers was put in. She was unset because “they didn’t put the screens in! What are we supposed to do? Call them to change the glass and screens twice a year? Are they going to store them for us?” I tried to tell her that the screen was self-storing and rolled up (like a window shade) at the top of the door but I wasn’t getting through to her. I might have through the same thing if I hadn’t looked at the door online before I ordered one and I understood what I was getting. Word to the wise for anyone who isn't already computer literate, get there while you can because even in places like this upper middle class Continuum Care Complex life is easier if you can keep up online. We have our own app the covers sixteen areas of our lives including phone directories for staff and residents, dining menus, pastoral services, Life Enrichment schedules and so on.

There is a woman who moved in two weeks ago that I swear is going to worry herself to death. She walks around with a schedule of what’s going on for the week in her hand that one of her kids printed out for her. She seems to think if she doesn’t find the right room for, say, an exercise class or she misses the dining hours that she’ll get punished or kicked out. She doesn’t grasp the concept that no one in charge of anything cares if we show up or not. The word 'independent' in the term 'independent living' seems to be a hard concept for many people to understand. All of us have friends and family who've asked questions making it clear they think we moved into something like the Witness Protection Program only for old people hiding out from scouts looking for residents to ship us off to nursing homes.

Anyway, if our new resident gets moved out it will be because maybe she should have gone directly to memory care and by-passed independent living. And maybe deep down that is what she fears? I sat next to her at our baked potato buffet one night and she asked me four times when I moved in. To be fair, most of us moved in together in October and it was hard to keep our back stories all straight when you’re trying to learn them all at once. She needs to relax and give herself time because there is no Litmus Test coming. Well, there is actually but there is only one question: Are we residents a danger to ourselves or others? But even if we are they can’t move us out of our independent apartments without the consent and full cooperation of the person/family member we named as our power of attorney. And people with money could in theory even hire  live-in or part-time caregivers if they didn't want to move on down the food chain of a continuum care complex. There is a business associated with our CCC that covers all kinds of stop-gap services if we need them but we don't have to use that one in particular company.

The new resident has a three year old Chocolate Lab that nearly tipped me over jumping on me and I’m not a small, frail woman. She has no control over that dog and if anyone gets kicked out her dog might be asked to leave if it hurts someone. Its owner just lets go of the leash when the Lab sees someone it wants to greet. It did a full gallop and a two legged bounce against me. 

Now that spring is here I’m seeing a lot of dog walkers, mostly from the surrounding community who like taking our road and walkways through our wooded property. I don’t blame them. It’s one of the major reasons I bought here---the fact that it's so dog friendly. Now that I’m settled in, though, and my raw grief over losing Levi is in the rear view mirror I’m 95% he was my last dog. Just the right dog would have to fall in my lap for that decision to change. 

I still missing living with a dog. You can’t have a dog in your life 78 years out of 80 without feeling like a part of you is lost. Heck, neighbors called me the Poodle Lady for years, the one who threw birthday parties for her dogs and taught them circus tricks. But I keep reminding myself that all my life I’ve had my own back yard and I didn’t need to walk my dogs. That changes everything in the grand scheme of growing older. ©

31 comments:

  1. Such a lot to chew over here. I love those doors. I don't have one but Rck does and I think I'll replace my back screen door with that because they're just so easy. We hired live-in care for my dad when he was in assisted living to hold on the skilled nursing. As he said, it cost me my inheritance but was worth it to him and I don't regret it for a minute. But the dog thing is an issue. One thing to have a nicely behaved dog on (or off) a leash but one that jumps, and particularly in a senior spot, is a danger to residents. Lizzie is my last pet, I think. Rick doesn't want a cat when I move into the duplex sometime down the road and I don't want to leave an animal behind when I die. Unless it was already an older cat, I suspect I would go first. Hopefully she will have a lot of years left in her. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Oh yes, deciding when our last pets our truly our LAST pets is really difficult. Even getting an older dog or cat comes with issues that I don't want to deal with...especially with all new carpeting in the hallways. Levi had a fund set aside for his care should I have died first, but leaving money behind to help make our fur baby more adoptable doesn't guarantee it a good home should we die first.

      Having a skilled nursing service for a parent in assisted-living is a gift you give to yourself as well as to your loved one. Those places have such inconsistent care! One of the main reasons someone like me goes to a continuum care place is we personally are picking out the exact places we may be downgraded to rather than some distant relative or a social worker. I've seen it many times where someone ends up in certain nursing homes because they were the only ones available at the time one needs placing...so no real choice.

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  2. There are so many issues to take care of, I imagine that it is difficult to keep everyone happy. I hope they are able to keep good staff because that can be hard to do some times. Glad you were flexible and able to work with their schedule so you got your new door already. Looks nice!

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    1. I does look good, doesn't it.

      The turn over of food service help is noticeable and our wait times long in both the restaurant and cafe'. Sunday brunches get canceled once in a while because they can't get anyone to work them. They hold weekly walk-in interviews and a pretty good package including health care and attendance bonuses every 3 months. But most of the food service help say they can't afford to work because child care and transportation costs with Uber or their own car are too high so they don't really make enough. Other staff members haven't changed since I moved in except for one house cleaner left. I don't know how it is in other parts of the country but here, a lot of food service people have switched to food shopping delivery services where they can pick their own hours and places to go.

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  3. I’ve had dogs in country and suburban properties, and also in a property in which I HAD to walk the dog as the yard (such as it was) was not fenced and right on the corner of 2 busy downtown streets. There are benefits to HAVING to walk your dog, I learned…it gets you out there moving, regardless of the weather. The downside is the same though…you HAVE to take the dog out walking whether or not you are sick or tired or injured, or hale and hearty. I have learned that some people (especially those who live in high rise condos) can train a puppy to relieve itself on a “puppy pad”, usually placed on a balcony. That seems to be a good thing to do for those times when you just can’t walk your dog.

    Deb

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    1. I didn't know people in high rise condos use puppy pads on balconies. I had thought about the puppy pad idea in the laundry room IF I get a dog. If I get one I want a cat sized dog that in theory could be trained to use puppy pads all the time, if needed. We do have a block long heated sidewalk for winter dog walking which was one of the selling points when I moved in. Walking more would be good for me.

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  4. Oh dear! The last thing you should do with a Chocolate Lab is let go of the leash when approaching someone. Our dog would knock me (or anyone else) over in that scenario. She sounds like she has some challenges, and I agree that she may end up moving into the next phase of the CCC. Yikes.

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    1. I know! The dog is only 3 years old and if someone doesn't train it soon they may loss the window when it can learn manners easily. I had to take a step back to keep my balance when it jumped on me. Several of us have been passing the word that we all need to raise our knee and say "no!" when Molly charges at us but that's not going to be enough. Molly's mom does walk it often and far though. I'll giver her that but she says when Molly sees something of interest she can't hold on to the dog so it takes off. They have no weight restrictions here on dog size and I'm afraid they might put one in place because of Molly and that would not be far to other dog owners who have control over their dogs.

      There is a huge poodle/ golden retriever therapy dog that visits and that dog is so well trained she doesn't even need a leash to walk and stay with its person.

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  5. Yikes, that dog is dangerous. He could friendly you into the hospital. I'd look for someone who has a dog your speed and you become the cool Aunt to the dog. Best of all worlds. That poodle/golden retriever seems like a good candidate.

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    1. That therapy dog has an official job here. it visits all the buildings under the parent umbrella that my building is attached to. Too busy for me to become her cool aunt. But you'd be surprised at how many residents here baby-sit dogs for their kids and grandkids when they travel. So I do see dogs to pet.

      I'm hoping to see one Molly's mom's kids when they visit so I can put a bug in their ear that they need to help their mom find an obedience class before something bad happens.

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  6. I adopted my dog five years ago, and I am a senior citizen so I chose a dog who was five. I don't want to imagine living without a dog, maybe the right senior dog will come to your attention and you will adopt him/her. That large dog you describe is doing unacceptable behavior jumping on people; it is the owner who needs training.

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    1. Yes, it is the owner who is at fault. It's not acceptable for a dog of any size to be allowed to jump on random people but a large dog in a place like this is an accident waiting to happen.

      I haven't totally closed the door on having another dog, I still have a shoe box full of dog gear. The perfect dog for me could happen, I'm just not actively looking like I was when Levi first died.

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  7. I like how you've caught on to the 'tricks' of maintenance issues. Cancel nothing! LOL I'm sorry for the woman with all the anxiety -- I can relate to a certain extent. Maybe she has not lived on her own much? Anyway, I hope she calms down and finds her independence. But that dog??? Sounds dangerous to me! Big dogs can knock a person over easily with their friendly enthusiasm as much as aggression. I'm always wary around dogs whose people seem to have no control over them.

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    1. Yes, the woman's husband died last and she is one those women who seems to have been totally dependent on him and now her children. But she's only been here two weeks so things could change as she gets her bearings. If she gets them.

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  8. I really like your screen door. We have them on both front and back doors and they work well. My only complaint is that there are some nooks and crannies that I have difficulty cleaning. I guess I shouldn't even worry about stuff like that--after all, it's just a door.

    It's a good idea to put a knee to that jumping dog's chest. Nope, it's truly not the dog's fault. It's always the owner's responsibility to train. Makes you wonder if the ccc has given the owner notice--you'd think it would be a potential liability.



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    1. I think I'm going to like my door better in the winter than the summer. It will keep out the draft I was getting.

      I doubt anyone has reported the dog to the office yet. I know I won't. She's only lived here two weeks and I think the dog and the owner needs time to adjust and hopefully someone gets a chance to talk to one of her kids before someone feels its necessary. We've done a good job spreading the word to be careful around the dog.

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  9. I do love a screen door. If I can have a cross-breeze, I'm in heaven.

    I completely understand about knowing you're done with pets. When the realization comes, you just know it. Consider it a retirement of sorts.

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    1. It's not just having a pet, but we leave other parts of ourselves behind when we go through the retirement years until little by little we don't even recognize ourselves. The trick is we need work at finding replacements interest for the things we are no long able physically or mentally able to handle. Still working on that part....

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    2. Not many people have screen doors in the UK, at least not in my part of the UK. I had to look up what they were! I feel sorry for the woman with the dog - it seems she's not really in the best place for her (or her dog). Hopefully she will settle in and the dog will start behaving.

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    3. Wow, I'm surprised that you don't need screen doors in the UK or anyplace on earth for that matter. Maybe Americans get more freaked out about having bugs in the house?

      Ya, me too on the dog and her owner. It's a sweet dog but no manners having been taught to it.

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  10. I wondered how the CCC addresses if someone needs to be moved along the Chain of Care and how that evolves. One of the obstacles we would have had even if we weren't still raising a Child, is that The Man requires an entirely different level of Care than me and I wouldn't want to be separated to where we had to live separately. That said, the Peace of Mind you will have that should you need advanced Care, it is not only available, but covered, is huge.

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    1. We have several couples here where the husband is in the memory care in the next building or in assisted living down several buildings and the wife lives here. Most days the wives go over and have a meal with their husbands. If they are having a good day they might take them outside or for a ride. It really is a great sit up for a tough situation. They don't have to do the hard hands-on stuff and they can come and go according to how things are going on any particular day.

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    2. Yes, having the CCC doing the bulk of Caregiving would be easing a huge burden off the Spouse whose in better shape. I don't mind taking Care of my Loved Ones, but I often worry about when it gets to where I can't meet them at a point of need and have no affordable options for their Advanced Care. When The Man was really bad off, most places simply refused to accept him and even if we'd of found Placement, we could not have afforded the Long Term Care costs of someone needing the level of Care he required, it was a terrifying and overwhelming time in our lives. Had he not been able to be rehabilitated by us, I feared all of us would have ended up in The System split up everywhere if The State had to fund any of it.

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    3. I lived with that same fear when my husband was alive. I needed to be able to care for him at home to reserve enough assets so I wasn't living out of a shopping cart if he had to go into a nursing home. It's a very common problem for couples.

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  11. As it happens, this is going to be the week I take on the new resident here who has two cats that she allows to freely roam. They've found my bird feeders, and have been hunting regularly. I've found one on my patio, and have had to clean up after it. It's quite a sprightly thing, and can make the railing and feeders in one bound. When I talked to the woman about keeping her cats indoors, she became quite snarky, saying that her cats don't kill birds, but if they did, that's "just cats." When I pushed back a bit, I got the "I pay rent here, too, and can do as I please." Well. We'll see about that! Other residents are upset about it, and we're all visiting the office this week to remind the manager that our city's municipal code forbids allowing ANY animal to roam at will. In the meantime, I've added a pitcher of water to my patio; I'll not hurt an animal, but I'm certainly willing to annoy it!

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    1. Jeez, the least she could do is offer to put bells on the cat's collars. But if she's breaking a city code then there is no reason not to lean on her hard. One of those kid's water guns might work better than a pitcher because you could sneak up on the cat. We have the same law up here. She gets a couple of fines she might not be so flip. It's rare to see a cat and dogs roaming free and our local NextDoor app is filled with people trying to catch them when they are.

      We can't have bird feeders. :(

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    2. Update: I had a little visit with our apartment complex manager, copy of the municipal code in hand. As it turns out, she's the one who took care of a couple of other troublesome cats, and she's wholly sympathetic. When I told her that the owner of the latest roamers had said she (the apt. manager) had given permission to let the cats out -- well. Let's just say that wasn't the case!

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    3. Never pays to lie about what management said or did. LOL

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  12. I have a couple security screen doors -- can see out but outsider can't see in -- and especially love leaving them open at night after the sun goes down and cools a bit in the heat of summer for the air to flow through my living room.

    I would love to have a dog, but the care would be a bit much now though I have an enclosed backyard. Also, a dog would likely outlive me as I would want a young one to train myself. Had experience with a 10 mo old one whose neuroticism had become so embedded by the time we got her that we couldn't change her behavior much. Never again, and an old dog would likely add more care as the aged in most species do.

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    1. I feel the same way about wanting a puppy rather than an older dog for the same reason. Here, to have a dog you must have two people lined up who are willing to take your dog if something happened to you. I'm pretty sure I could find two since the a dog trainer/boarding place had already signed on to be Levi's re-homing service and I had set aside money for his care. Still don't think it would be wise at 80.

      I didn't know they have one-way screens!

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