Chat @ Care-giving: Social Networking Senior Style

Several weeks ago I mentioned that Option Number Three had invited my parents to a party.  The marketing personnel felt that the best introduction to the property would be in a social situation.  I wasn’t so sure about that, but I thought that perhaps they knew more about this aging thing than I did.

Knowing my parents, I assumed that Dad would hate the whole idea of leaving his easy chair, much less leaving his house.  However, I thought Mom would be all excited about the opportunity to try something new and meet new people. When Mom called to talk about what to wear, I thought I’d hit the jackbox.  Mom’s a real fashionista and if she cared enough about the event to be concerned about what she would wear, those retirement center marketing people knew what they were about.

The party was on a Thursday evening, the day I usually spend with them and they wanted me to go with them.  So after a day of running errands we got all gussied up and headed to Option Number Three.  I thought I’d pegged the whole thing right as Dad complained about having to get all dressed up.  I was giving big creds to those marketing people.

When we arrived, we were warmly greeted at the front door.  We arrived early enough that I had some time to show Mom around a little bit.  Then I took Dad for a potty break and we went in to the dining room.  They’d given us the best seats in the house and put a couple at our table who absolutely loved living at Option Number Three.  Things were really working out.

Once introductions had been made Dad perked right up.  As always, he showed an interest in the origin of someone’s name and where they were from.  He worked hard to strike up a mutual acquaintance.  Unfortunately, his conversation was with someone who was hard of hearing, so things didn’t go as well as they could have.  Still, Dad seemed happy to be there and then the music started.

The entertainer was someone I remembered from the days I was out clubbing.  She’d once sung jazz in one of the poshest jazz clubs in Dallas.  For the evening, she’d taken the party’s theme, anniversaries, and strung together a selection of songs from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s that would appeal to the crowd.  Hey, I wasn’t even a real part of the crowd and they appealed to me.  I thought the volume was a little louder than it needed to be, but then I wasn’t hard of hearing like the rest of the audience.

Then the meal came.  Honestly, it wasn’t the best meal I’d ever had, but it was far from the worst.  Dad dove into his plate with relish, but I noticed Mom wasn’t exactly enjoying her food.  With her sister dying and me pushing the retirement home project, she hadn’t had the most robust of appetites lately, so I tried not to make too much of it.  Then dessert was served.  The cake was beautifully decorated with white chocolate dipped strawberries, but the piece Mom got was more icing than cake.  Mom began claiming that Dad was ready to leave.  Whispering with him, I discovered he was having fun.  Mom was the one who wanted to go.

As the entertainer continued I could tell Mom was through, her evening was over and she was ready to go.  I began to fidget.  The entertainer sang on and even Dad, who had such a good time began to tire.  When the final song was sung and the final announcement was made, Mom rocketed out of her chair and towards the door.  As we made our way out of the building, one of the lovely marketing ladies asked my dad if he’d enjoyed himself.  He told her he had and that he was interested in living there.  A quick glance at my mom revealed that she hadn’t authorized him to say anything of the sort.  He was going to be in trouble when he got home.

I delivered them to the house and said we’d discuss the evening at a later time, hoping that Dad might work on Mom a little bit and change her obviously poor point of view.  The next day, Mom let me know the music was too loud, the program had gone on too long, the entertainer had not entertained her, the food was awful and she didn’t see anyone that she had been interested in getting to know.  The room had at least a hundred people in it.  I couldn’t imagine that Mom had the opportunity to make that decision about them so remotely.

So, Option Number Three has one strike and a few fouls against them.  Shortly after this party, I was called away for Aunt Edie.  Retirement Center shopping would have to be postponed.  Do your senior citizens ever surprise you so completely with their reactions?  Tell us about it.

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