Met my new neighbor the other day. He was facedown in the parking lot.
I assisted him to his feet and, after brief introductions, away he went on his motorized scooter. Decided to check on “Mo” the next morning. He said he was okay. Could I give him a ride to an assisted living facility down the road?
That short ride is turning into an incredible journey, one that is changing the lives of several people. It is an eye-opener and it has made me realize there are others in Sun City Center faced with an equally frightening dilemmas.
My condo community in Kings Point is a quiet place. At least it was until Mo moved in. For 5 out of 7 nights the rescue squad arrived to pick up Mo off the floor. They hauled him to South Bay Hospital where he was examined, kept for observation, and released.
Obviously, Mo was incapable of living by himself. Previously he resided in an assisted living facility, a nice enough place, he said, but the restrictions robbed him of his freedom. He said he hated it. Plus, he said, “I’ll run through all my dough within two years.”
A troublesome burden to contemplate, especially for an 87-year-old with diminished faculties and a small bank account.
Mo was grateful when I told him I would help.
I began making calls, gathering info, and wrestling with Mo’s burden.
Can’t say it was fun, but I knew I was supposed to do it.
The parable of the Good Samaritan kept running through my mind, as well as scripture verses like “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; “you shall reap what you sow” and “by the grace of God go I.”
Research shows top-notch assisted living facilities abound in Sun City Center, but Mo is unable to pay $40,000-$70,000 per year.
In-home personal care runs $18-$22 per hour. Mo needs an overnight companion and 18 hours of assistance per day, 24/7/365. Total cost: $102,000 per year!
Mo had slipped between the cracks, it appeared. Was he destined to become invisible, one of those neighbors rarely seen and mostly forgotten in an over-55 active adult community?
Call it luck or call it divine intervention (my pick), but I have found a way to supply Mo’s basic needs and to allow him to enjoy care-free living in his last years. Mo received a live-in companion and 18 hours of personal care per day — everyday — for less than he paid at the assisted living facility.
Mo is “safe at home.”
This is huge since 90% of the elderly say they want to live at home for as long as possible. That wish goes unfulfilled because most can not afford a one-on-one personal care attendant or — like Mo — there are no family members ready, willing or able to make the sacrifice.
Fortunately, a surrogate “wife-mother” was found for Mo. It is a good relationship because it marries together the unique personal needs of two people.
We have found a beautiful, kind, loving woman who treats Mo like a baby. She fixes his meals, cleans his house, changes his diaper in the night, rubs his head, and showers him with tender loving care.
Joy has become Mo’s mommy. When necessary, she scolds him and lays down the law. And Mo needs it and deserves it.
That’s because he has a fiercely independent streak. It is one of the things I admire the most. Rather than ask for assistance in rising from a chair, Mo does it himself, sometimes ending up on the floor.
“I am getting stronger, I feel better, I am happy, and it’s all because of her,” Mo said, as Joy beamed, delighted all her TLC and hard work is appreciated by an old man exiting the planet.
“Nobody is gonna take her away from me.”
Mo is happy. I’m delighted. The joy and fulfillment from finding a solution for two people in need is indescribable. I have a new purpose in life. Mo and I have become men on a mission!
Jimmy Curtis is a retired journalist and entrepreneur. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.