Too often children cannot embrace the reality that mom or dad has moved on.

In senior living, new relationships are formed. Friendships develop and romances bloom. If you’ve worked in the industry long enough, you’ve probably seen new love come and go several times.

One Activities Director at Eskaton noted during her career she has seen a variety of courtships, including married spouses flirting with other residents. It happens. But when a love story like this unfolds, we want to tell everyone how life doesn’t have to end when you become a widow after six decades of marriage. Love can happen again, and it can be special.

Here is the challenge:

Too often children  cannot embrace the reality that mom or dad has moved on. The residents in this story requested it remain anonymous. Their names have been changed. Not because they are ashamed of the relationship, but because they are respectful of their children’s feelings.

A Walk To Remember

Couple WalkingJane was 88 years old. Her husband had passed away six years earlier and her daughter decided it was time for Jane to move to assisted living. After researching and touring nearly a dozen communities, her daughter selected a community operated by Eskaton. Jane left her 4-bedroom home thinking “This is the end of the line.”

It was shocking,” said Jane about downsizing to a one-bedroom apartment. Her life had been full with a wonderful job at NASA before marrying and raising one boy and two girls. She was a tennis champ with shelves of trophies. “At first you come in and you don’t know anyone. It’s a little hard,” explained Jane. With a wonderful attitude she made friends and created a life for herself in her new home. And six months after moving to Eskaton, Jane’s life changed.

Joe, a recent widower who had been living in a Del Web community, moved into the same Eskaton community as Jane. “My son did a survey of the institutions that were available. He told us emphatically this was the best one available.” After his first two weeks, Joe felt bored. He was ready to move on. Then he took a walk that changed his life.

Jane explained: The women sit on one side of the dining room and the men on the other. One evening after dinner, she asked her friends if anyone wanted to take a walk with her.

Joe, who she had not spoken with before, raised his hand.

For the next 16 nights, Jane and Joe sat on a bench in the rose garden and talked.

“I found myself laughing most of the time and that’s so different from when you are alone,” said Jane. “Joe is very friendly and helpful. We have so much in common and a lot to talk about.” Joe even slips little notes under her door, rings the doorbell and runs away like a shy suitor.

“It was really unintentional,” said Joe. “We laugh a lot . . . and tease each other. We weren’t searching for someone to marry or be a companion.” They enjoy recreation and group activities. “Sometimes we do them together and sometimes we do them apart.

“I’ve become acquainted with her family and she’s gotten acquainted with my family.” Jane and Joe agree their families were a little surprised. “You immediately turn into the child and they are the parent,” said Jane. It’s understandable that family can be skeptical and protective at first, especially when one parent has passed away recently. It’s not easy when a spouse has died.

Finding happiness again can bring joy not only to the couple, but their children as well if they stay open minded.

– The Eskaton Team

Some Questions:

As you encounter these romantic situations, how do you help families work through their fears, which in many cases revolve around money and inheritance issues?