God’s Waiting Room

Don Rickles once joked his mother was living in Miami, which he called, “God’s waiting room.” But that was while he was still young.

Those of us in senior years have a different view. Florida, Arizona, California, all start to look pretty good to us at retirement. They’re all places where we can walk outside without fear of slipping on ice. They’re also places where we can expect to meet others our age, with similar interests, often without mates, and the same eagerness to embrace some pleasure in these remaining years.

But you don’t really have to leave long- time friends and a beloved family to do that. There are plenty of very nice retirement residences, villages, and apartment complexes in most places provide the same. Granted, there’s the snow and ice issue. But there’s been less and less of both these last few years as climate change takes its toll. And when we DO get a snowfall, most of these places provide buses,in addition to the usual Pace, and Uber.

I recently attended a wonderful 90th birthday brunch at The Lodge, a charming (fast expanding) complex in Northbrook, IL. The chef prepared a beautiful and deliciious buffet table and the family provided decorations, a special birthday cake, and a pinata with the face of a president many there enjoyed smacking with a baseball bat.

When asked how they enjoy living there after 50 years in a nearby ranch home, the hosts exclaimed the many virtues mentioned above. “But the menu is too repetitous” grumbed the host, whose wife obviously spoiled him all their previous married years with varied gourmet meals.

“You get what you pay for,” sniffed his wife. “IT’s $13 a meal and it IS very good, but every two weeks they repeat menus exactly.”

I wouldn’t complain about that, since I eat a lot of broiled chicken and lamb chops here in my home kitchen (often in less time than two weeks apart.)

So I’d say The Lodge has a great rating since everything else was fine. I did suggest the couple organize a small committee to take a poll of residents and if all agree, to speak with the chef about disguising some main courses to vary menus.

The next week I attended a reunion of Chicago Media reporters and editors who meet once a month at our local Meier’s Tavern in Winnetka, IL.

One former publisher, who had already downsized with his wife to a nearby suburban hi-rise, said they were on the waiting list to move into fine old local senior complex.

“My wife has back trouble and just can’t cook or care for a condo anymore,” he explained, overlooking the idea that he might have pitched in on this over the years.

“This requires a down payment of several thousand dollars, which our kids will get back in part some day,k and about $7,000 a month for both of us. That includes rent, food, housekeepers to clean the apartment, and other amenities. ”

His biggest reason for moving now? “You have to be independent to get in,” he said. “They won’t take us if we suddenly become infirm and need assistance or nursing care.
We have to get in while we’re healthy .”

I wondered why he thought there would be no assisted living or nursing facilities available when they became dependent. There are many that provide services as good, or possibly better, than this independent complex.

But I’ve noticed there is a fear element in every sales pitch, especially to seniors, and we should consider them carefully, preferably with family members, an attorney, and definitely an accountant, before making final decisions.

There is much more than bingo and bridge to consider.