On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 5, 2018
Tom P. Blake
The above three words, “I have survived” are not mine. They belong to a Champ named Althea. We wrote about her in the April 2, 2017, newsletter. The title was, “Seniors Moving-In Together. Will It Work?”
Some background on Althea’s situation: In January, 2017, Althea, then 68, who has arthritis, and earns $895 a month in SSI (she didn’t work enough to build up the credits needed to receive Social Security), had to give up her Placerville, California, apartment.
A man, 72, whom she had briefly dated, “rescued” her by letting her move into his log-cabin home with him. It became a nightmare for her. She asked for advice in that April 2 newsletter.
As you Champs so often do, you made great suggestions for her, which I featured in the April 8, follow up newsletter, titled “No Place to Live.”
Fast forward to the final newsletter in 2017, December 22, titled, “Five things I’ve learned in three years of retirement.” Althea responded: “I just finished reading your newsletter and felt very comforted by it. I don’t know why I felt comforted, I just did.
“I’m writing to update you on how my situation has turned out. I wanted to let you know, I have survived.
“The man who rescued me made living in his home a living hell. I endured that from January to August when, through my efforts of writing personal ads on Craigslist and in my local free newspaper, and asking anyone who was within earshot, I was contacted by a woman whose parents were both 80 and living on their own in their house in Yuba City, almost two hours away from where I was in Placerville.
“The woman’s father needed some live-in help with the mother who has dementia. After meeting the daughter and being interviewed, I met the parents a few days later, and, then, the following week I spent 4 days at their house, with my dog…they also had a dog…to see if it was a fit.
“Everything turned out okay. The man I was living with gave me the money for the movers. At that point he would have done anything to get rid of me! I felt the same way! There were no ‘goodbyes,’ or ‘I hope things go well for you’ from him. He said nothing to me as I drove away and I said nothing back. Good riddance I’m sure was felt by both of us.
“So, I am living in this nice house–nothing fancy and it is a bit old fashioned/slightly cluttered–with a big backyard for my dog. (their old dog passed away less than 4 weeks after I moved in, so my dog has been a good emotional replacement for them). They are the nicest and most generous people.
“It’s been challenging because I’ve never dealt with anyone with dementia, and there’s still the challenge of also living in someone else’s home again and not having a say of how things are run. I do miss being independent and having my own place, but this is what has to be–and I deal with it well–for the most part.
“BUT – I have a roof over my head, I didn’t have to give up my dog – which I NEVER would have done, and they are sweet, generous people who don’t make any demands on me. The husband gives me grocery money to shop and I make a third of the meals, sometimes more.
“I keep my rooms clean and neat, I go out to one of the 14 parks they have here and walk my dog four times a week and I just met two nice ladies a week ago (through Craigslist of all places!) with whom I’m starting to socialize.
“We met for coffee the first day last week and then I saw a movie with one of them this week (I was seeing movies every Tuesday by myself). I am doing all I can do and keeping mentally active (jigsaw puzzles, reading and crosswords) and being as physically active as I can.
“I’m on SeniorPeopleMeet and I’m still casually looking at the profiles, hoping to meet a nice man for companionship, dating and friendship but I’m not focused on it. It’s a long shot. There are less single men my age available in this new area.
“I’ve always known that a woman doesn’t need a man in her life to be happy or fulfilled, and I think the need gets less and less as we age…and there are plenty of other ways to keep from being lonely. Make a female friend!
“My motto has always been, keep a sense of humor and never give up.”
Tom’s reply to Althea: “You are very courageous. I will use your story because it is real life, a story of will, determination and guts. Any advice for our Champs? Also, just curious: What happens if one or both of those people you are care giving for pass away? Are you able to stay or are you out on the street?”
Althea said, “I haven’t asked, but I have thought about it. I’m not dwelling on it or worrying about it though. I figure if I made it this far and kept a roof over my head, ‘The Powers That Be’ will continue to keep me safe.
“I don’t believe that the daughter who hired me or her two sons would just cut me loose and not care about what happens to me. I don’t think about the what-ifs. I just live day-to-day, keep my fingers crossed and try to stay happy.
“Also, any advice from me? Well, I’m no expert, and all I can really think of to say to Champs would be: stay positive no matter what, and don’t give up on what you really want or need. “But don’t let it make you crazy. Know when to say enough is enough and move on to something else that makes you happy.
“Maybe my story will give some hope and incentive to someone else out there who is struggling with the same issues. Or worse ones.
As Althea says, things could always be worse
Althea ended with: “Staying positive and being proactive and never giving up is a good message.”