September 19, 2021

Choosing to live here was the Best Decision of my Life!

senior living facility

A loophole in the condo’s rules allowed me to buy an apartment in a centrally-located area at a lower than market price point.

It’s the best con job I’ve ever pulled! Why?

I am the youngest one here.

You know that deep “aha” satiated feeling you get after polishing off an entire large pizza, after going on a “this time I’ll do it the right away” diet for three and a half hours? It’s how I feel every day living where the average age is 78.

When your day job as a professor of teenagers and young adults means you’re called anything from Ma’am, professor, professor Roopa, or auntie Roopa, trust me, you take your wins when you can get them.

So, when your fellow condo-ers refer to you as the “young one” and you know you’ll be the youngest for at least the next decade, it’s like one large pizza and a box of cinnamon rolls.

And then come the compliments:

You nimbly jump over the coffee table and open the front door—you’re one step close to being a ballet dancer.

You tweet about how much “F9” actually sucked—you’re a future Oscar winner.

You demonstrate your meager cooking skills and make rice and lentils to share with them—you’re for sure the next Wolfgang Puck.

I get the best assortment of answers when I ask, “How are you?”

Answer 1: “My fasting sugar level is 180,” (my casual, slouchy body becomes erect) “and my BP is 180/110,” (I’m now in the “on your mark, get set” pose and am ready to call backup) “but don’t worry, I’m 92; this is common at my age.” (And relax.)

Answer 2: “I can barely move my left arm; I have no sensation in it.” (Oh my God, could it be a stroke? Should I panic?) “Ugh, even when I had sensation, it was of no use. What’s for lunch?”

Answer 3: “Still alive.” (My personal favorite.)

The amenities. Oh, so many amenities.

There’s nothing quite like a knock on your door every morning at seven by one of the live-in staff, just to make sure you’re still breathing!

Other jealous-inducing amenities? A swimming pool and gym that are almost always empty, although neither of which I use. I don’t know the former and am too lazy for the latter, but it’s good to know I have options.

There are housekeeping staff, live-in medically trained personnel, and an on-site cafeteria that prepares fresh and nutritious meals three times a day. It’s almost like living in a hospital—without being in one.

We’re also proud owners of multiple oxygen cylinders and portable oxygen concentrators that we bought well before COVID-19 came along and made them popular.

Jealous yet?

Every day here is like attending a stand-up comedy show.

You know when a kid acts up, and parents threaten them with, “Wait till grandma and grandpa come over.” Yeah? Okay. That’s not even a threat. Grandparents are always a reward for bad behavior.

Well, in our senior living facility, it’s an equal-opportunity reward for all—children, grandkids, even thieves.

It’s where a robber comes to steal and then gets the “guest treatment.” First, they pull a chair out for the guest to feel comfortable. When the guest appears anxious and has one foot out the door, they are met with:

“Oh, you can take whatever you want from us later. Where are we or our things going to go? Just relax. Chat with us for a moment.”

One moment turns to 15, maybe 30 minutes. And the questions don’t end:

Do you have any family? Clearly, you have no work, since you’re here stealing from us. Married? Kids? Would you like some coffee? Maybe some snacks? Speak louder!”

The killing with kindness continues when the now gobsmacked robber is forced to partake in sharing their gooey paste—a food that was once vegetarian fried rice but has now been ground to a pulp in a blender because its recipient has no teeth and digestion issues.

Sixty minutes of excruciating hospitality later, and the robber begs to be allowed to pay them to leave—comedy gold.

There’s always peace and quiet.

Everyone goes to bed by 7:30 p.m., and since they’re either asleep, deaf, or part of the security staff, I could blast music all night if I wanted to.

My “pop-in” guests have eventually trickled down to zero.

“Every time we come here, I see people in wheelchairs or walking with walking sticks—it’s depressing.”

“Oh my God, I just saw this woman walking around with a urine bag!”

“I just read the list on the notice board near the reception area of everyone who died this week.”

No one visits anymore.

But, there is nothing that can take away the joy of living here.

No, no joke. I’m serious.

Life is a cycle. You start as a child, then a teenager, then an adult. You get to middle-age, then old age, and then you become a senior citizen. And then you become childlike again.

Nowhere can you see this cycle of life clearer than when you live in a senior living facility.

There is loneliness, aching hearts, and bodies that age exponentially faster than minds. Those who live here are sharp but tired, would love to chat, but cannot hear, yearn to watch movies, but their eyesight is shot, who at 75 develop an insane taste for trying out all types of cuisine, but don’t have the teeth or digestive system to enjoy them.

I can enrich their lives, as they enrich mine.

When I go for my morning walks and acknowledge them with a nod, I get a shy smile in response. When I say hello, it’s like candy to a kid. When I deign to talk to them, they burst out an earth-shattering, toothless gummy smile like a small child, and my heart threatens to burst open.

Choosing to live in a senior living facility was the best decision of my life!

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