The day Rosemarie moved into The Arbors at Stoneham was a day for celebrating: Her wishes had come true.
The Five Wishes
A few years ago, Rosemarie’s son Tony had introduced her and her now-late husband to Five Wishes. Five Wishes is a living will/advance directive document that helps guide families through conversations before a health crisis.
“Dad was a diabetic,” says Tony, who is an attorney. “Five Wishes was an opportunity for my parents to sit down individually, then with themselves, and ultimately with all five children and have a conversation about aging, about family dynamics, and about needs, fears, and desires. We knew that we had to have these conversations. I’m not one to avoid these things.”
Five Wishes allowed Rosemarie to express:
- The person she trusts to make decisions for her
- What types of medical treatment she would want — or not want
- What is most important for her comfort and dignity
- What important spiritual or faith traditions should be remembered
- What she wants her loved ones and health care providers to know about her
It took the guessing out of caring. Rosemarie’s children heard firsthand what she wanted, and they had the opportunity to share their concerns, too.
“There was conversation, respectful resolution, and acceptance,” Tony says.
Not Another Winter
After Rosemarie’s husband passed in 2014, she stayed in the condo they had shared for the past 25 years and continued working at DeScenza Diamonds in Boston, where she had been a front-end sales clerk for over 35 years.
By spring 2018, the commute — a drive to a park-and-ride lot, a ride on the commuter rail, a trip on the subway, and lots of flights of stairs during rush hour — was getting to be a lot. Her kids were worried.
“Mom was facing yet another winter in the condo,” Tony says. “Realizing she might be stopping work or cutting back on work, which was a huge social activity for her, we thought it might be time to consider moving into a different living environment. We have honest conversations in our family, so we just said, ‘Ma, you’re getting older. [The condo] is big. The market is good. Why don’t we look at some things?”
Before Tony and his siblings could offer help, Rosemarie agreed and started looking for the right assisted living community. “There was no resistance,” Tony recalls. “There was actually an embracement.”
The Next Chapter
Rosemarie knew what she wanted. She created a list of about nine different assisted living facilities and started her investigation. When she had narrowed down the list to two, she asked Tony and his sister — her two oldest children, the executors of her estate, and her powers of attorney — if they would go visit them with her.
The first place they looked was a newer facility, but it felt more like a hotel than a home. Rosemarie did not want that.
The second place they toured was The Arbors at Stoneham. One of Rosemarie’s friends lived in The Arbors and was very positive about the experience, so the family was already optimistic. When they saw the apartment, Rosemarie felt at home. She could picture herself cooking Italian Easter pizza in the kitchenette, sitting on the patio off the community dining room, and playing cards and Scrabble with the other residents.
Tony also appreciated that The Arbors is a family-owned and -operated business.
“You’re not dealing with a major corporation; you’re dealing with someone who has a vested interest in the success of their building,” he says. “I’ve represented family businesses. I know that there are unarticulated benefits that people get when the family owns a business. I’ve seen it here. I can feel it in the energy. I can see it in the authority and the respect that is given to the people at the front end. If I’m going to spend my money, I’d rather spend it in an operation infused with those values.”
Rosemarie sold her condo and moved into The Arbors in November 2018. In early 2019, she retired.
“From our view, this is the ideal time for her to be there,” Tony says. “Without the burden of having to think about paying bills, maintaining the condo, spending time alone in the condo … with all this place has to offer, she’s now able to enjoy the active part of her life with much less burden and responsibility.”
Do you know the most important factors for your elderly parent as you help them choose an assisted living community? For guidance on how to navigate the search, download our eBook How to Choose the Right Assisted Living Community.