WILMINGTON, NC, June 03, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — As medical science advances and life spans become longer, many of us may someday face decisions regarding assisted living. Sadly, regardless of the amount of diligent research we might do, slick corporate advertising and hearsay advice aside, none of us will ever know what it is really like to live in an assisted living facility until we actually get there. That’s a bit scary, as that decision is often final. Unfortunately it’s not been possible to get an unbiased, factual and objective glimpse into the day to day experiences of life in an assisted living facility – until now.
Frances Fuller, award winning author of ‘Helping Yourself Grow Old’ and ‘In Borrowed Houses’, can now provide us with penetrating insight into life in an assisted living facility, drawn from personal experience. Her goal is not to make specific recommendations or weigh the pros and cons of such a life changing decision, but rather to draw our attention to lesser known considerations that may have escaped our notice at first. In a piece published on her website, she covered one aspect of the assisted living lifestyle we many not have explored – driving. In that piece, titled, “To Drive Or Not To Drive”, she stated:
“If you are getting old and know it and thinking to move yourself to an independent living/assisted care home, you are faced with more questions than you faced when planning your fancy wedding.
“For instance, to drive or not to drive. In other words, to take your car to the retirement home or not. This is one of a multitude of issues that seems to be simple and purely practical but is not.
“I assumed, at first, that my trusty Toyota would be with me wherever I went. I even said to my son and daughter-in-law, “When I move to Virginia (if I move to Virginia), we are going on a road trip, the three of us. We will pack my car and mosey eastward, stopping wherever we feel like it. I want to see the country one more time.”
“That was before Covid-19 rearranged our lives.
“I had been driving for seventy years. A traveling family needs more than one driver, at least. I was married to a man who got sleepy after lunch, wherever he was. He also got sleepy at dusk, blaming it on the changing light. So I drove while he slept. But he was the better driver and we both knew it. He understood the car and treated it kindly; he never permitted a distraction to take his mind off the road. He also had a GPS and a contour map of the world in his head. He knew six ways to anywhere.
“For many years he had a badly damaged heart that kept going only with the help of a defibrillator. Still, he was the default driver, until one day we went out to the carport to go to the nearest small city, half an hour away, and he said, “Would you like to drive?” So I got behind the wheel. He lived two more years, but he never drove again.
“Since then, of course, I have driven just because I needed to. In most of America, a car is more essential than a house. I went to church, the grocery, the post office, doctor’s offices. I went to the next big town to visit family. Once I drove alone all the way to my daughter’s house in the San Fernando Valley, exactly 410 miles from my door to hers. I went monthly to Sacramento to a club meeting, coming home at ten p.m. The only thing I really hated about that was forgetting to turn the porch light on when I left in full daylight, then fumbling with my keys in the dark when I got home.
“But. . . which of these things would I need to do, living in a retirement home? Church maybe. And probably even that would be available in the facility. Nothing else on my list, except that I would have a daughter fifteen minutes away, but surely she would come and get me for visits and bring me back. I would eat in the dining room, so why would I need the grocery? There would be a salon in the building, haircuts always available. The home would provide some transportation, too, for medical appointments and group shopping.
“Also I needed to think of the cost of owning a car. First I had to get it across the country. That cost might equal the market value of the vehicle. Then, since I was going to another state, there would be the hassle of new licensing and registration in addition to insurance and gas. There was the fact that my vehicle was as old in car years as I was in human years. Like me it looked a little damaged by experience but kept going and didn’t complain much. An oil change once in a while, new tires every few years, a trip to the car wash in spring made it happy. The paint kept peeling off the rear bumper after that old guy in a pickup and I in my Avalon backed into one another in the parking lot at the bank. Neither of us thought it was worth reporting to our insurance company. I didn’t know then that once the paint was damaged it would keep peeling off.
“After one goes to the retirement home, I realized, there are not many ways to be frugal. The basic cost of living will not vary month to month. There is no way to skimp by lowering the thermostat or eliminating ice cream from the menu. All the necessities and a few luxuries are built into the budget. But unless I really needed it, a car would be a luxury. Even worse, it could be a problem.
“I was 90 years old. How much longer would the relevant DMV let me drive? I already had several friends with cars in the driveway and no license to drive. Some of them had been responsible for accidents. Others could no longer see or hear. I had read statistics and accepted the truth that the elderly are the worst drivers on the road. That bothered me, I admit.
“And wasn’t this move about simplifying my life?
“So I decided. No car!
“And then I thought again. . .”
The full piece is available at her site at http://www.francesfullerauthor.com.
There are many great books on aging available. However, many of them were written from an academic point of view. Most are penned by sociologists, doctors, gerontologists, even the CEO of AARP, and one by a Catholic nun, Joan Chittister. Chittister’s book, ‘The Gift of Years’ is beautifully written, focusing on spiritual values and finding meaning in life. Chittister admits in the preface that she was only 70, which is the front edge of aging, and her book is somewhat abstract.
Atul Gawande’s book, ‘On Being Mortal’, relates medicine and old age, It enjoys high Amazon rankings, in the category of “the sociology of aging.” It contains a great deal of valuable scientific information and shows understanding of the physical and emotional needs of the elderly.
Frances Fuller’s book, ‘Helping Yourself Grow Old, Things I Said To Myself When I Was Almost Ninety’, is an up-close and very personal encounter with aging. It is an uncontrived and firsthand look at her own daily experiences: wrestling with physical limitations, grief, loneliness, fears, and the decisions she has made about how to cope with these and keep becoming a better person. She faces regrets and the need to forgive herself and others and is determined to live in a way that blesses her children and grandchildren.
Frances deals with many common, universal but sometimes private issues in an open, conversational tone. Her confessions and decisions invite self-searching and discussion. She tries to make sense of her own past and to understand her responsibility to younger generations. In the process she shares her daily life, enriched with memories from her fascinating experiences. Her stories and her voice — fresh, honest, irresistible — keep the reader eager for more. The end result is a book that helps create a detailed map through the challenging terrain of old age.
The result of this intimate narrative is that readers laugh, cry and identify with her mistakes and problems. Reviewers have called the book, “unique,” “honest,” “witty,” “poignant,” “challenging” and “life-changing.”
For these reasons it is a book unlike any other book on aging you will ever read. The book can serve as a primer on what lies in store for all of us, from someone who is working through many of these issues. While the book is a perfect fit for book clubs, there are many other individuals and groups who could benefit from the information and ideas in the book:
Those approaching retirement
People who are currently retired
Children of aging parents
Those who have lost a spouse
Retirement community discussion groups
Church groups (men and women)
and a host of others. For group discussions, Fuller has made a set of discussion questions available at her website at http://www.FrancesFullerAuthor.com.
Readers have lavished praise on the new book. One Amazon review stated, “I find myself thinking,’I need to read this again and take notes!’ It’s full of wisdom, humor, and grace. I also have committed to rereading it annually – it’s that important!” Another said, “There is valuable life experience in this book. Helping Yourself Grow Old is truly is a book for all ages, and one not to be missed.” Another stated, “Beautifully written book telling timeless truths, for both the old and the young. Highly recommend this book for anyone who loves to laugh, cry, and learn wisdom from someone who has lived so much life.”
Frances’ prior work, ‘In Borrowed Houses’, has taken three industry awards. Frances Fuller was the Grand Prize winner in the 2015 ’50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading’ Book Awards. It received the bronze medal for memoir in the Illumination Book Awards in 2014. Northern California Publishers and Authors annually gives awards for literature produced by residents of the area. In 2015 ‘In Borrowed Houses’ received two prizes: Best Non-fiction and Best Cover.
Critics have also praised ‘In Borrowed Houses.’ A judge in the 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards called ‘In Borrowed Houses’ ” . . a well written book full of compassion . . . a captivating story . . . “. Another reviewer described the book as “Wise, honest, sensitive, funny, heart-wrenching . . .”. Colin Chapman, lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut said, ” . . . western Christians and Middle Eastern Christians need to read this story…full of remarkable perceptiveness and genuine hope.”
Frances has shared stories about her life in an interview with Women Over 70, and a recording is available on their Facebook page.
Frances Fuller is available for media interviews and can be reached using the information below or by email at [email protected]. The full text of her latest article is available at her website. Fuller’s book is available at Amazon and other book retailers. A free ebook sample from ‘In Borrowed Houses’ is available at http://www.payhip.com/francesfuller. Frances Fuller also blogs on other issues relating to the Middle East on her website at http://www.inborrowedhouseslebanon.com.
About Frances Fuller:
Frances Fuller spent thirty years in the violent Middle East and for twenty-four of those years was the director of a Christian publishing program with offices in Lebanon. While leading the development of spiritual books in the Arabic language, she survived long years of civil war and invasions.
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