I met Regina Green 35 years ago. She was 65, recently retired and was my husband Les’ grandmother. She recently passed away at the age of 100. There are many memories I have of her but what I want to share with you today is where she chose to live the last 35 years of her life.
Regina was married to Charles Green, a Baltimore City police officer. They were married for over 50 years. Regina had a diverse career as a mother, a Federal government employee and real estate agent. Although Grandma, as I came to call Regina, never shared her personal finances, I believe she had a modest income. She and Charles owned their own home and continued to live there until Charles’s death. Once Charles passed away, Regina made the decision to move into a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Although relatives offered her a place in their home, Regina wanted to be independent. She also wanted her relatives to be independent. She often said she did not want to burden anyone and did not want to tie anyone down.
Initially for the first 10 or so years in the retirement community, she lived in an independent apartment. She had a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and dining and living room. She decorated the apartment with her furniture and she was able to entertain friends and family. Meals could be prepared in her room or she could eat at the dining room with other residents in the community.
When Regina was not able to care for herself independently she moved to the assisted living area of the community. In assisted living there were health care aides to check on her periodically through the day and to make sure she took her medicines and ate properly. Her room was clean and comfortable. Although one of the services offered in the assisted living was having an aide make your bed, Regina chose to make her own bed. She enjoyed doing it for herself. As a resident of the assisted living, she was able to participate in community events such as concerts and day trips, and was able to attend her local church. Regina’s family and friends came to visit regularly and she continued to make new friends.
After several years in the assisted living she needed more care and moved to the nursing home section of the community. She didn’t live there long- just a couple of months before she passed away.
Through 35 years I watched Regina as she moved through various living arrangements: her own home, an apartment, assisted living and a nursing home. Moving to a Continuing Care Retirement Community gave Regina the independence and care that was so important to preserving her dignity to live life her way.
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