Today’s a traveling day, so this will be quick. I’m driving down to NY to see my family and especially my elderly mother.
Last night I called her at around 8:15 to see how she was doing. She sounded a bit tired when she answered the phone, so I asked whether my call had woken her up. My mother used to be somewhat of a nightowl, but when she got into her eighties and now, her mid-90s, she understandably started fading a lot earlier in the evening.
But she said no, she hadn’t been asleep. As a matter of fact, she’d just gotten back to her room. Why? Because, she said, “This place is getting like a prison.”
Oh oh, doesn’t sound too good.
I asked her to elaborate, and she said “They have a new rule. We go down to dinner at five, you know (oh yes, I know; it’s the highlight of the day) and we’re not allowed back into our rooms till eight.”
I pointed out that this was actually more the opposite of a prison. After all, in prisons, they take you back to your room and lock you in, not out. Actually, it reminded me of summer camp—although a great deal less fun—with compulsory evening activities, everything in groups, and no solitude allowed.
Could she be allowed back to her room if she pled tiredness? Wanted to watch a good TV show? Read a book? Entertain a visitor? She hasn’t a clue, but I imagine I’ll find out a lot more about this new edict over the weekend.
My mother’s assisted living facility is one of the nicest possible, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. We’ve always joked about the residents being “inmates” (one of the faculties my mother most definitely has not lost is her sense of humor). But this sort of effort at control and forced socialization is ridiculous. I understand it’s not good for residents to isolate themselves, but the loss of freedom and autonomy is already profound there, simply by dint of being in such a setting. No need to add to it unnecessarily.