When do I look for a retirement home?
When Is the right time to move?
In some cases, seniors find when they are home all day that their apartment building or subdivision is empty and there is little or no daily social aspect to living there. As one senior, Grant Guthrie of Mississauga, Ontario, has told us, "Ninety per cent of the people were at work." Her residential neighborhood was "like a ghost town."
As opposed to that, he loves the fact that when he gets up in the morning at his new retirement home, "You come down, and every morning you see someone you know."
A retirement home offers something completely new and uniquely enjoyable, even if surprisingly so. Ernie Doran found that he could no longer afford health care for his home in Florida and moved into a retirement home in his hometown. He admitted, "Community living was something new to me but I went down to the dining room and very soon I was sitting with a group of men. [I found that] we have all been through the same experiences."
Are you looking for an improvement in your daily living?
Often for the first time in their lives, retirement home residents find themselves free from mundane daily tasks including housework, home maintenance and meal preparation. Personal meal preparation is one aspect of living alone that becomes increasingly difficult. Making a single meal then eating alone can be tolerable for a while but it becomes increasingly burdening all the time. Helen Slattery of Toronto put it this way: "I found myself buying frozen dinners and I couldn’t be bothered making a salad. I said to myself 'Helen you’re getting tired'… there must be something better than this."
The time and energy freed up by letting other people take care of needs in a retirement residence becomes a source of joy for the elderly. They come to accept the fact that they deserve to be "treated" like this and they find energy for other things including new self-discoveries.
Helen says, "(Cooking) has been replaced by so many other things." This includes playing bridge, keeping up with friends and even exercise classes. In addition, she adds, "I discovered I could write."
Retirement homes today surprise many of their patrons with new joys in life, new growth and a new self-understanding.
What's stopping you? What if, instead of giving in or admitting defeat, you viewed the movin into a retirement home as the start of something new and exciting? What's stopping you from moving? Don't be afraid of discovering new possibilities for social and personal discovery, available only in a community of peers.
What's stopping you from moving forward in a bold new direction?
There’s no time like now
Most people skip the important step of research and preparation — starting a search about 10 minutes before they need a retirement home. There is a better way.
First of all, don't be afraid to thoroughly research retirement homes; think of it as gathering information you may never need to use. However, the odds are that you or someone you know will benefit from this information. It's not rocket science and an advanced degree in social engineering is not required. In this case, a little legwork will go a long way toward fully understanding your retirement home options.
Generally, it's an elderly person's fall, a change in health status or the loss of a spouse that prompts people to move to a retirement home, to get the support they need. Knowing in advance where to move and what retirement homes you like most will avoid the need to make a hasty decision while under duress. Thinking ahead allows you to make the choice based on your own preferences, rather than leaving the decision to others, who have had this responsibility thrust upon them.
Having a good sense of what to look for and where to find it will give you peace of mind. If there is a waiting list at your retirement residence of choice, put your name on the list. If you get a call that a suite has become available but you're not yet ready to make a move, ask that your name be moved back to the bottom of the list for a future call. In case of a change, you'll know you've got those plans already made.
You should also educate yourself about the many alternatives to retirement homes. Alternatives to retirement homes are covered in Comfort Life's guide to options in Senior Housing.
I encourage people to start now by getting out there and finding out what choices are available to them. Use the retirement home search right here at ComfortLife.ca, visit the Ontario Retirement Communities Association website or call ORCA at 1-800-361-7254 for more information on your choices. ORCA has a "Tips & Checklist" pamphlet on choosing a retirement residence, available free of charge.
You can also consider getting the help of a retirement consultant.