People keep asking me how I like living at The Clare. My answer is always "I like it," and I do. Still, it's taking me a very long time to adjust (five months so far). There's something about moving to a lifetime care building that seems so final! Then, I am still trying to recover financially from the reduced price I received for my condo.
What's good? The food. I am not and never was a cook, so it's nice to know that three meals a day are available here (although our monthly fee covers only one full meal--I usually work in breakfast and lunch).
We have a Town Car and driver to take us places, but I've used it only twice. It seems luxurious, though. We have a great location; If I could walk better, I could walk almost anywhere I want to go. As it is, I sometimes relax too much and stay indoors, especially if the weather is dreary (which it is today).
We have seemingly endless activities available. I am still exercising three times a week, still at the beginners' level, but those exercise classes do keep me from being a total couch potato. We have excercise machines too; I sometimes use the cross trainer and the stationary bicycle. I haven't joined the book club yet, since I have so many unread books piled up to read (and sometimes review). I have plenty of time for reading, but I waste too much time on puzzles and magazines and TV. Bridge and gardening and several other activities don't interest me, but it's nice to know they're available.
My favorite activity is The Clarion, the resident newsletter I started. I have help from a starff of five or six, and I really enjoy the process of creating the newsletter each month. I'm still trying to get residents to contribute more. Why are people so afraid of writing? This is a building full of MDs and PhDs, so I am sure I'm not the only writer here.
The included one-a-week cleaning service is nice, although I no longer get my microwave oven cleaned, as I did when I hired my own service. I'll have to get out of my recliner and clean it myself soon. Package delivery is prompt and courteous. Mail and newspaper delivery are efficient. TV reception on my new HDTV is great.
I participated in the Printers Row Lit Fest (formerly the Printers Row Book Fair) on Saturday. It was nice to have Bob, the doorman, get a cab for me. I enjoy these fairs, even though I don't sell many books. The main problems this year were cold and rain. I left a bit early.
There's no way to escape aging, but a place like this gives a somewhat unwelcome look at the realities of growing old. The number of broken bones from falls, the number of hospitalizations for one thing or another, the number of knee replacement operations scheduled, the problems of healthier partners faced with the care of ailing spouses, the number of hearing problems (I have one myself) all give me cause for concern. On the one hand, it's good to know that nearby care and sympathy are available, but who wants to be reminded of all these realities? Fortunately, I've never been a head-in-the-sand person. As a realist, I believe I'm in the right place at the right time. Who knows what the future brings?
It seems to me that a lifetime care community is a good choice for someone like me, over 70 and childless. The luxurious Clare is hard for me to afford, but since I can't get my youth back, I'm happy here. Will I be so happy if and when I need to move to assisted living or nursing care? For now, I'll just enjoy independent living and my beautiful lake view and hope for the best.
Chicago Tribune photo.