From residents who have moved to a retirement home at all different ages, they often say, “I wish I had moved in sooner!” The reason is that so many of their fears or concerns are alleviated once they get settled into a residence and meet some new friends and find their rhythm. One of the concerns is that seniors say they don’t want to lose their independence or have a rigid schedule. The exact opposite is true, many retirement homes offer flexibility for services such as meals, vacation time, visitors, pets, decorating suites and more. One example is open seating dining where the residents are invited into the dining room by a hostess and seated much like at a restaurant. It is a great way to enjoy new connections and partake in lively conversations at each meal. Open seating dining means that the residents can come to the dining room any time during the meal period, not at a set time and not at a set seat with the same people each day. There are also a variety of programs and outings offered and activities are planned well in advance so residents can plan their schedule to attend the programs they are most interested in. Most retirement homes have programs every day and evening to accommodate all interests and group sizes and encourage resident input on the planning of activities.
Some seniors are very settled in their own condos or homes and feel that moving and packing years worth of belongings is just overwhelming. Moving into a retirement residence means downsizing furniture and this can be difficult to manage. The retirement home marketing person can offer referrals to down sizing specialists, movers they are familiar with and they can offer advice on what pieces of furniture are necessary. Viewing a display suite or a furnished suite will give the perspective of how much furniture and what type would be most suitable.
The average at many retirement homes is around 85-88. Does that mean you should be that age before considering moving? No, not at all. The average number of years residents might live in a retirement home varies from 1 or 2 years to 10 years and more. Waiting for family to get stressed and unable to offer support or until a health scare happens might mean that the full enjoyment of a retirement home is not realized.
The ideal time is probably before you think you need to move. Shop around and visit different homes and find a retirement home that feels right for you. Retirement homes are not a nursing home, they are a community where a senior can live an all-inclusive lifestyle, be active and as involved as desired, and enjoy retirement with peace of mind. Have an idea of your must haves and desirable location and start visiting, have lunch and get a feel for the atmosphere of a home.
Written by Amanda Hill, General Manager, Thornebridge Gardens, New Westminster, BC