A Day in the Life of Independent Living

Millie, at 72, had been widowed for over a year. She and Ted had been together for 44 years. The house, while it had been right sized for the two of them, was more than she wanted to take care of. Millie and Ted were best friends and had a lot of interests together. Millie was having a hard time picking up the pieces to do the things she and Ted used to love to do. They were active. She missed Ted so much. Millie thought about how much her life had changed since Ted had passed away, and again since she moved into the retirement community. Living in the home, she and Ted had been so lonely after he was gone. Everything was so quiet. The silence was deafening. It was hard for Millie to begin a new life when all she did was miss Ted. When she wasn’t missing Ted, she was busy taking care of a home that was too large for her. Millie had to do yard work, which she never liked. Ted liked it, though. It just made little sense to her any more to be living there. It didn’t bring her any joy. 

When Millie thought about what she wanted, she knew she wanted a smaller living space with no upkeep. She wanted to feel safe. She wanted to come and go as she pleased. Travel would be fun. Millie wanted to be busy and experience new things. Millie knew she needed people in her life. She and Ted had no children and her family lived in other states. Millie stayed in touch with the close friends she and Ted had and her group of lady friends, but she wanted more for herself. Millie wanted an environment where she could join in as a single and not feel uncomfortable that she wasn’t part of a couple anymore.

Since Millie had moved into a retirement community, she felt better. Every day was different and offered experiences she wouldn’t otherwise have had. Most of the time, all she had to do was show up. The nice thing about living in a community was that besides the day -to -day life, which was definitely more interesting than life would have been if she stayed in the home she and Ted lived in, was that the calendar came alive. There were celebrations for every holiday, every big sporting event, there were happy hours and live entertainment. Millie. being a lifelong learner, appreciated the quality of speakers and educational opportunities there were. Millie wasn’t very crafty or artistic, but she enjoyed some of the creative activities as well.

Mornings in independent living

Millie was naturally an early riser and usually got up between 6:45 and 7:00 am. She liked to enjoy her tea, either catching up on a morning news program or reading on her balcony. Her balcony was peaceful and overlooked a wooded area and a pond. There was always something to see.

By the time Millie was dressed and ready for the day, it was about 8:15am. Millie headed to the main dining room for a quick breakfast. They always made breakfast to order, and she had two eggs and toast. There was always someone to visit with in the dining room. It was a lively place with people chatting about the day’s events in the community, current events or grandkids.

Never a procrastinator, Millie liked to get her exercise in early. She was happy that there were many options for exercise in the community. She could do aquatic aerobics, join the Walking Club, yoga or join an exercise class designed for seniors that also including weight training. Millie didn’t like to do the same thing every day, so she was happy to have the variety offered. She also found that she could meet more people this way. Millie and Ted enjoyed playing tennis regularly. Millie had met several people who invited her to join them in a Tennis Group they had. They played once a week. Millie felt energized. It had been a long time since she felt this good.

With morning exercising done, Millie had time to grab a cup of coffee in the Bistro on her way to Book Club. Millie was an avid reader and loved taking part in Book Club. It opened up a whole new set of people to meet and books to read. The members of this club took turns suggesting what book they should all read and discuss next. The group was very enthusiastic about Millie’s suggestions.

Activities in independent living

It was lunchtime when Book Club finished up. Millie would normally head to the dining room to meet up with friends and have some lunch, but today was special. A group was meeting in the lobby in an hour to head downtown for a play. So, Millie grabbed a sandwich to go while she heading back to her apartment to get ready and change her clothes. When she got to her apartment, there was a note on her kitchen counter that the building repairman had taken care of her request to fix her balcony door. Millie was glad she didn’t have to wait around for him. 

Dressed and ready, Millie headed to the lobby and jumped on the community bus to go downtown. There were drinks on the bus and cookies. It was a fun ride. The play was fabulous and everyone had a great time. Dinner was at a restaurant near the theater, and Millie thought it was excellent. She and Ted had always enjoyed trying new restaurants, but since he passed, Millie hadn’t been out to a fine dining restaurant in a long time. It felt good to be out and experience new things. She enjoyed the people she met in the community. Everyone was friendly and, just like her, they wanted to be out doing things, too.

Evenings in independent living

By the time the bus had gotten back to the community, it was about 8:00pm. Some of the group went into the Lounge in the community for a nightcap. Millie thought a glass of wine would be perfect. They chatted about the play and dinner and what a good time it was. One resident played a few songs on the piano for them. At about 9:30, Millie thought it was time to head back home to her apartment and wind the day down. When she got home, she changed into pajamas and picked up her book to read, but it was a pleasant night out, so she sat on her balcony for a while to take in the night air. 

Millie looked at her phone to check her calendar for tomorrow’s schedule. After breakfast, Millie was going to join the Walking Club for her exercise and then run to the library located right in the community. Once a month, new books would arrive and Mille liked to be first to see the new selections. After that, Millie was meeting an old friend for lunch downtown. Millie had to chuckle to herself. She was so worried about having her car, but in reality, it had been three weeks since she needed it last. It was just sitting in the garage. The community provided transportation, and it was so easy and convenient. After lunch, she and her friend would go shopping for a few hours. Millie wanted to be back at the community by 4:00 pm because there was an informational planning meeting about a trip to Ireland that the several of the residents were taking in a few months. After that, she would have a light dinner in the dining room. There was going to be a strings musical ensemble at the community later in the evening, which she was looking forward to. Tomorrow was a busy day, on second thought, Millie decided she may as well turn in for a good night's rest so she could be ready to greet the day. There was a lot to look forward to. 

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