Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some Preliminary Thoughts on High-end Senior Living

I've been living at The Clare at Water Tower for three weeks now. I'm still getting used to the place. Here are a few thoughts on the good and the annoying parts of living here:

The good:

My apartment is lovely, with its views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. Once I get my mirrors and pictures on the walls and out of the bathtub and one shower stall and find a few missing possessions, I'll be perfectly settled and comfortable.

The dining room food is excellent. There's no need to cook. But I have a few problems with eating here (see below).

The location can't be beat, at least for a city lover. My three-times-a-week physical therapy sessions are about four blocks away, and even in Chicago's winter weather, I've been able to walk there all but once (icy sidewalks). There's a doorman to get a taxi, too. There's also a convenient Walgreens store to provide for almost any emergency.

In the building, there's a library (still in need of organization). There's an exercise room filled with machines, one of which I actually use from time to time.

There are endless activities listed on the Clare website, although so few residents have computers that most people don't even know what's going on. Most of the activities are just getting started; people are still moving into the building.

The service is very good. Newspapers and large packages are delivered to my door, my apartment is cleaned once a week, a maintenance man is always on call (there's sometimes a wait, but that's understandable), and my extras did fit into my small storage bin (I had doubts about that). I don't have that old helpless feeling if something goes wrong.

The annoying: As I probably would at any senior residence, I feel a small decrease in independence. Instead of just going to the garage to get my car, I have to call ahead and have it delivered downstairs. It sometimes takes quite a while. Of course I use my car very seldom, and may not keep it for long. I can't leave my apartment for the public areas without giving at least a bit of attention to my appearance (I still dress more casually than most, but no dirty bathrobe or face without makeup).

Even though I recognize their importance, I sometimes resent all the emergency call buttons in my apartment. Yes, I may need one sometime, but I annoys me that one of them slips down occasionally and brings a frantic call from the security desk. There's nothing wrong with the non-slipping ones except that they remind me I'm old.

As I've said, the food is good--too good. It's certainly not low-calorie food, with the possible exception of the Healthy Choice Breakfast (an eggwhite omelet). I lack willpower when it comes to food, so I'm tempted to eat pancakes, bacon, delicious bread, even desserts. Maybe we need a lo-cal menu or a special table for those of us with weight problems. And even the best menu can become monotonous after a while. I guess I have a problem with too much food and too much choice, not much of it healthy. It's a bit like eating out every day at the same fine restaurant. That doesn't fit my casual style very well. Of course I have a kitchen. I may have to take up cooking, thereby forfeiting part of my monthly food allowance (not cheap, of course).

It's easy to be lazy here. In a way, living here is like living in a fine hotel. The building still has growing pains, and I still have adjustment problems. My basic loner personality has kept me from making close friends so far, and it may be too late to change. That's my problem, not The Clare's. I'm not likely to turn into a social butterfly, but at least I hope to get back to doing more writing. So far, my attempts to interest my fellow seniors in computers and writing have come to naught.

My main problem is the lack of communication here. So far, I haven't received instructions for using the appliances, staff telephone numbers, or a TV channel lineup. I simply don't know whom to ask for those things. I guess I'm not good at asking questions. I wish we had a newsletter to let us know what's going on. I'd be happy to work on such a newsletter if someone would keep me informed myself. I suspect that the staff has enough to do right now.

So the saga continues. This is a beautiful, expensive place to live. As senior residences go, it may be one of the best, but perhaps I just resent the fact that I'm not young anymore. Have I been alone too long? Don't worry; I'll adjust.

Photo: northern view from my apartment


Dorothy said...

Marlys, I just left Chicago Monday...I wish I remembered you live there I would have tried to visit or meet for coffee..if you were interested....?

However even at just 62 I find myself wondering how I got to be so old so quickly....and having survived Cancer I'm finding myself over thinking my life...

I'll be back in the spring let me know if you'd like to meet for coffee..
My email is

Dorothy from grammology

seniorwriter said...

Dorothy: Yes, by all means let's meet the next time you're in town. You can email me at and I'll give you my phone number and/or address.


edina monsoon said...

hello hello.Found your blog through women's blogging. I scrolled down and saw the " I'm a breast cancer survivor"....THAT and all that you've done. Inspirational:)

seniorwriter said...

Thanks, Edina. I guess 76 years have given me a lot of time to do and survive various things. I'm trying my best to keep going!