Second Wind: Mom and dad may move in with you
They’re old. They’re moving. They’re moving to be near you. It’s Mom and Dad back in your life again. Or it could be newly widowed Mom by herself, alone among her moving boxes.
Or, maybe, if you are older, you are the newcomer in this situation. You, an older person, have uprooted yourself to be near son or daughter, only to keep losing your way on their confusing freeways, making you wish you were safely back where you came from.
Either way, either viewpoint – when older people move to be near adult children, it’s called a dependency move – a downbeat gerontology term. Me, I have never met an older person who wants to be dependent on the kids.
Also, some who make the move to be near family are still in their youthful 60s, wet behind the ears when it comes to handling retirement and not one bit dependent.
But, whatever the cause of the move or the age of the mover, there are ways to settle in and be happy and ways to stay out of the loop and down in the dumps. Let’s look first at what may get a newcomer down to the point of thinking two martinis would make a very nice lunch. Here’s a bit of advice for my fellow oldsters:
New geezer in town: The problems
Did you ever see a plant pulled from its roots? It wilts. Some older people wilt too, especially if they have no life experience with moving and making a home in a strange place. The older person may feel bereft – leaving behind friends, neighbors, doctors, dentists, stores, haircutters, clubs, churches – all the things that are familiar and keep us comfy in the world.
Some older people are geographically homesick. They miss the sea, the snow, the beach, the city – whatever it is that the new place doesn’t offer. Others can’t stand the environment in the new place – the heat or the cold or the bad air.
And often, to their surprise, the older folks may find their adult children and their children extremely busy leading their own lives – work, school, sports, hobbies – and there’s not too much time for the oldest generation.
There’s a bit of wiggle room, of course, for the generations to see each other, but it probably won’t be enough to constitute a dependable social life. So grandma and/or grandpa will need to connect to their new environment independently – to make their own lives and not sit home watching “I Love Lucy” re-runs on TV.
Some ways to make it better
First, realize that moving is a chance to begin life all over again. It’s time to try new things, make new friends, go to new places, maybe find parts of yourself you never knew you had.
One of the first tasks is the same task you had in kindergarten – making friends. You can still go to school to find them. Look up the courses in the local community college, pick one and go. It’s fun, enlarges your mind and will ensure you meet people with like interests. Also, if you are a digital dud, become computer literate. If you don’t have a computer, look for inexpensive desktops. And tech experts say laptops will be a lot cheaper by the end of 2007.
Volunteer somewhere, anywhere. Try hospitals, hospice, music groups, art groups, museums, youth organizations, churches, food banks, homeless programs, historical societies and libraries. If the first one doesn’t ring your chimes, try another. Volunteering your time is a worthy and reliable way of making friends and feeling that you have some useful role in the world. So pick up the phone and call.
Words for the wise
There is a club made to order for newcomers. It’s the Welcome Wagon Club of the Gold Country, with 900 members and more than 25 activity groups. It’s for you if you’ve moved here within the last two years and is also open to any who have been divorced or widowed in the past year. Phone is 530/477-3750. Web site is http://www.ncnugget.com
The author of four non-fiction books, gerontologist Mel Walsh has a new book of advice for the 50+ woman: “Hot Granny,” published by Chronicle Books. Write firstname.lastname@example.org. More info at http://www.melwalsh.com.
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