Monday, April 1, 2013

Attitude Adjustments At Assisted Living

Looks fade, weight shifts, aches and pains come and go, but most elderly people are able to get away with saying whatever is on their minds. This freedom is cast aside, as the training wheels are being snapped back onto their walkers. They're entering new territory now, and must learn how to survive in the jungle of assisted living.

It's like high school for senior citizens, only with a lot less jocks. The cheerleaders do most of their cheering on the benches, and as resident "mean girls" they still rule the school. They decide who has the honor of joining them at the cool table, and most of the drama takes place in the dining room.

When a new arrival moves in, the head cheerleader and her co-captains invite her to dinner for a thorough inspection. The cheerleaders aren't necessarily the prettiest, but they're the most powerful. They still take pride in their appearance, and only offer a second invitation to those who fit in without threatening the chain of command. The same theories hold true in sororities and prisons; though their walkers are too cumbersome for shower activities.

There's a whole new meaning to girls who are "easy." This applies to women without visual or hearing impairments. If you're able to eat off of your own plate, and don't constantly ask them to repeat themselves you're invited to the next round.

As for the small group of men, one gentleman had to loudly blow his nose at the dinner table after each course, and he was in high demand. Rumor has it that the women even took turns winning him at Canasta.


Today begins the  Blogging From A to Z April Challenge,  and I would like to thank   Arlee Bird  for making this all possible. He created the challenge four years ago, and it continues to grow stronger. Be sure to visit the list of over 1600 creative participants  here.


  1. Win him at Canasta!?! There's a new angle on our weekly card games ;-)
    Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain

  2. Sometimes we see these frail looking older ones as weak, but in reality they are stronger than the common ox in mind and dealings. They take no prisoners and say everything as it is without fear or favour. They have attitude with altitude for sure, ha ha ha.
    All the best in the challenge Empty Nest Insider.

  3. Interesting perspective that I never really thought about before. There goes the fun of getting older. Just kidding. Let's rock this AtoZ 2013.


  4. Just another reason why I'll do anything to avoid ending up in a rest home! Good luck for the challenge Julie.

  5. I'm looking forward to speaking my mind. I've been saving stuff up!

    Moody Writing

  6. In the next phase of my life I want to be one of those "easy" girls... he! he!
    Hey, just remembered, that's not far off... *makes mental note to check visual and auditory faculties*
    No repeating... gotta remember that one too... no repeating... no repeating...

    1. Michelle - As a singer I know that you will be taking good care of your pipes too which is an added bonus! Very funny Michelle, but even if you are "easy" I still can't see you as a "mean girl."

    2. That's such a sweet thing to say, Julie. Thank you.

  7. Rosalind - I think you already have a winner!

    Rum-Punch Drunk - You hit the nail on the head! Thanks RPD!

    Rhonda - They still have fun with lots of social activities. I'm so happy we're doing another challenge together!

    Nick - I'm sure it won't happen, but the men do have all of the advantages in retirement homes. Good luck to you too Nick!

    Mooderino - Good idea, and you should start taking notes ASAP!

  8. This one hits close to my heart. Quality of life is altered, but survivors continue to thrive.
    I look forward to more.

  9. We've played canasta for many years, but never had prizes like THAT. LOL

  10. I used to work with the elderly many years ago, I saw them in all sorts of situations but the work was so rewarding.


  11. Oh man, I don't want to go through the high school drama again!

  12. Great start to the challenge. I don't think I would have wanted to 'win' old fog horn though lol.

  13. "There's a whole new meaning to girls who are "easy." This applies to women without visual or hearing impairments."
    I disagree. I can sneak up on these gals much easier if they can't see or hear me. And finish before 'Lawrence Welk' comes on.
    I've been giving this a lot of thought.
    I'm getting there. I'm making plans.

  14. You have such a discerning eye and a great wit. I hope never to live in an assistant living place.

  15. Ha! My grandmother used to tell me all about the underhanded politics of her senior living home. She'd take me to lunch in the dining room and give me the gossip on everyone. And, yes, there were so few men in the place that their company was highly prized, no matter their manners or appearance. :)

  16. I stopped by as we are near each other on the A to Z Challenge list. Very interesting post. I'd not thought of things like that before. Happy blogging :)

  17. I knew a lady who was 96 and she definitely said what was on her mind. A great woman, though.

    I think you're right, the cycle starts all over again :)

    Have fun A to Z'ing and looking forward to more of your posts.

  18. I laughed, Julie, as I read this. Mom is eighty-one and still lives on her own, mind you, that's in my garden suite, but she's a feisty one and I could see her setting a few "mean girls" straight if they had a problem with her...I know where I get my "bite" from! :) :)


  19. There can be some drama in those places, I know since I have a cousin who runs one! Cycle of life and all...Funny!

  20. This post made me chuckle. Good luck with the challenge! I participated last year and had a blast!

    Donna L Martin

  21. I used to work in a nursing home. It got quite interesting. They do have their own little cliques just like high school.

  22. What an awesome post. Mean girls rule!!
    I'm visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge
    Peanut Butter and Whine

  23. Excellent...and very true. My m-in-law has told me as much.

  24. It's sad to think there are still "mean girls" in assisted living. But I have no doubt it's true! Had to laugh at the new meaning to "easy," LOL. I hope I'm easy when (or if) I get to this age. :D

    Looking forward to another A-Z with you, Julie! :)

  25. The Wayward Gifted - Beautifully written. Thank you!

    Jeff - Just make sure that you're not the prize!

    Yvonne - I'm sure that you brought much needed good cheer into their lives.

    Alex - The Ninja Captain has nothing to fear.

    Delores - Nah, I don't think your hubby would like having "old fog horn" around!

    Al - They would pass you around like a bag of chips. You wouldn't have to sneak around at all with this group, but you may need to increase your medical coverage.

    Yvonne - You can participate as much or as little as you want, so it is possible to live in one of these communities without all of the shenanigans. Thanks so much Yvonne!

    LG - It sounds like you had some great times with your grandma! She probably loved showing you off to all of her friends.

    Petedenton - Nice to meet you through A to Z! I'll stop over soon!

    Mark - It's amazing that she was so alert at 96! The "cycle" does seem to keep many of them on their toes.

    Jenny - It's great that you take such good care of your mom! I would love to see her in action.

    Jen - I really think all of the drama is good for them.

  26. Thanks so much Donna!

    Ruth - I was really surprised to find out how "cliquish" it was.

    Connie - Great to meet you, and thanks for following me!

    Susan - I'm sure your m-in-law has some great stories! Thank you Susan!

    Julie - I felt terrible when I saw some women eating by themselves. The "mean girls" would definitely cast me aside though I am "easy." I'm also glad to be participating in another A to Z with you Julie!

  27. Soooo...50 years out of high school and nothing much has changed? WTF!

  28. I finally made it to your post. Shame about those easy mean girls - it reminded me of a Spanish saying - the weeds are always the hardest to kill - I got plenty of stories from working in a dementia ward, if a clique developed it never lasted more than a few hours.
    In humour and best wishes for the challenge

  29. Nancy - Sad but true. Don't despair as there is still hope for us Nancy!

    Ida - It must have been very difficult working in a dementia unit. Glad you kept your sense of humor. Great saying about the weeds, and best wishes to you.

  30. Wow! Interesting points! I am an old follower who happens to be in High School. I totally get it- I have to handle it every single day! Sorry it doesn't get better! :(

    my blog:

  31. I would love to be able to express everything that is on my mind. But I can't. Not now. Looking forward to the day when I'll be free. Still, it's sad to see that life doesn't always teach people the error of their ways.

  32. I worked with old people once but I think my visit was too brief to notice there was a cheerleader team. :D

  33. When I used to visit my dad at the assisted living facility he was living at, I saw so much shenanigans going on, it reminded me of summer camp.

    Good luck on the challenge.

  34. Morgan - It does get much better in college when anything and everything is possible.

    Elise - On the bright side, they're too busy to be depressed.

    Al - Some of the cheerleaders operate behind the scenes.

    Arleen - Yes, summer camp with pearls! Thanks Arleen!

  35. I wasn't much a fan of high school. I'm sad to hear assisted living is a repeat. I have nothing to look forward to.

  36. But maybe I've learned a thing or two since then :)

  37. Great theme. If I make it that far I guess there could be some things to look forward to about assisted living, but I think I'd rather keep living unassisted.

    This is a great A to Z start.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  38. LOVE it. Us old married folks still get caught up in high school drama too sometimes. You know he likes to tease me just like back in the day.

  39. Wow! I'm kinda upset to learn about the social pecking order of senior citizens' homes. I didn't realize this high school like environment still exists, but I guess it shouldn't surprise me. I weep for the future.

  40. Oh, dear. This does seem likely. I visit senior homes occasionally and have wondered when I see tables of residents playing cards. I agree with your other commenter. I don't want to repeat high school!!

  41. Carol - You could be one of the rebel rousers who stays clear of the "mean girls."

    Lee - This is really more of an independent living facility that offers some assisted services. The men are treated like kings who live by their own rules. Hope you've been having a great birthday Lee, and thanks for another amazing A to Z!

    gma - As long as he lets you sit at the cool table with him everything is okay!

    Joyce - The funny thing is that I don't think many of them consider themselves to be "mean girls," and probably think that anyone who doesn't follow them is antisocial.

    Sharon - You don't have to repeat high school if you don't want to. I'm just talking about the women who only want to be with the in-crowd. Other residents come and go as they please.

  42. Okay. that's kinda crazy yet, sadly, not that surprising. It has been my experience that "girls" my age (early forties) are still very much in the mind-set of who is "in" and who is "out."

    I am proud to say I've never figured out how to be part of the in-crowd. :)

    Thanks for stopping by and following my new blog. Nice to see you again!!

  43. This is such an interesting post -- sounds like a likely spot for a great short story or even a novel.

    Look forward to the rest of your challenge posts!

    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  44. Karen and Tamara - I think it's true that there are always people like that at any age. It's nice that you can see past that. Thanks for following me Karen and Tamara!

    Damyanti - Thanks for the kind words, and for doing a great job co-hosting! Looking forward to seeing more of you too.

  45. Hi Julie .. attitude is the right thing - some people can't accept, but if an elderly can .. then it makes life easier all round.

    I agree with Damyanti - great (short) story material ...

    Quartet was a good film, as is Song for Marion ... both with excellent British actors in .. when you get a chance to watch them ... do!

    Cheers Hilary

  46. I must agree with Damyanti, too.

    great writing, loved it!