Why move into a retirement home
Experts explain the many advantages and pleasant surprises in today's senior facilities
Many people love life inside contemporary retirement residences. Here's why people move into retirement homes, are happier there than they would be anywhere else, and happily recommend that you move into a retirement home. The following are in-depth discussions, including many stories from people who work in retirement homes.
You can also check out our ever-growing list of first person testimonials from seniors themselves.
Seven reasons to move into a retirement home
1. Community and social opportunities
Barb is one retirement community administrator who sees a lot of people change their minds after taking a respite care stay in the retirement village where she works.
They come in and realize the many advantages to living in a place where there are people their own age to socialize with. Barb says the general feeling people have is, "I don't have to worry about driving and I can open my door and find someone to chat with. I'm no longer isolated, and just that social engagement is so nice to have available." It also becomes apparent that "there are risks to being alone in their own home."
Stan is a senior at a Greater Vancouver retirement community, who says, "I love getting to know people here. Everyone here has an interesting story."
Scotty, a Vancouver senior, says that when her husband passed away, her new community friends rallied around her. "People here had already gone through losing a partner. They understood how I felt." Read her whole story.
Margaret moved into assisted living care in a local retirement home. This wasn't easy but, as she told us, "you make your adjustments. I think I love it here now. The people are very nice and I've made some wonderful new friends."
Living on your own or living in your traditional home can leave you vulnerable to a wide variety of things. People come to realize that the independence of living in their own home is "no longer worth it," says Barb. "They want to live in a place that is secure, where help is always around."
The secured grounds and ever-ready staff is a great boon to people who are increasingly vulnerable as they get older. If you have a fall at home, there may be no one prepared to help you. A similar emergency in a retirement home, any time of the day, will be handled as quickly as the pull of a pull cord or the press of the button on a call bell. Help on hand includes staff, such as a live-in manager and others, and the many other residents just outside your door, who see you every day. A fall is just one emergency situation that a retirement home is well-prepared to deal with. Call bells, 24-hour on-site staff and many other security features are a wonderful aspect of life in a retirement community. This is comforting to residents and also to family who worry about the vulnerabilities of elderly loved ones.
Sharon is the daughter of Brampton-area seniors who moved into a local care home. She says, "I sleep much better at night knowing my parents are well-fed, clean and safe."
"The staff being so nice has really helped me," says 76 year old Molly, who moved into a retirement home in Niagara Falls. "They check me at least twice a night to make sure I'm all right."
3. Care free living
No more housework, no more cooking, no more yardwork… it's almost too much freedom for some. Others compare it to the feeling you get with moving away from home into your first year university dorm. For example, Barb sees people come into the home, see the dining facilities and the choices, and admit, "I'm tired of cooking for one, why not pick from a menu every night?"
People come to love the pampering they get in a retirement home, says Kim, administrator at a retirement home in Pickering-Ajax. Many people may not be used to that… "on admission, they might think they don't need some of the things here, but when the lounge is just down the hall, they start opening up to the possibility."
"I can't cook worth beans," says Bill, who moved into a London-area retirement home, "It was time to be looked after for a bit."
Sanya moved her mother into a Waterloo retirement home and found her mom was elated with all the help on hand. "Her place gets cleaned once a week, they do her laundry just for her, individually… there are so many things she used to do on her own that she just doesn't have to do any more."
4. Opportunities to grow and learn new things
Retirement community living opens up free time, in a community built for ease, where you can learn things with others. You can indulge personal passions you have not had time and energy for before because you were busy taking care of your home or taking care of others. When there are no more dishes to do, no more cooking, no more vacuuming and dusting, you can let your imagination go, and use your energy for things you've been putting off too long.
Gardening and golfing are two popular activities available in a variety of retirement homes listed here at Comfort Life. Many retirement homes offer regularly scheduled activities like arts and crafts, music time, book clubs and many other activities.
5. Easy access to healthcare
Many seniors come to realize that they need health care. Their move into a retirement home may be precipitated by a health crisis or a growing awareness of health vulnerabilities. Medication administration, nursing staff, alternative help like massage therapy, and even fitness centres, are all part of the health care needs taken care of in many retirement homes.
Some seniors hide some of the personal care needs they have or simply deny that they need assistance with transit, mobility or other personal care. In a retirement home, this specialized assisted living is easy to access.
6. Unexpected extras
Barb, Kim and other retirement residence representatives might be excused for boasting a bit when it comes to retirement home features. As Kim puts it: "It’s like going to an all-inclusive resort [or] like a little country inn." People who come into a high quality retirement home like many listed here might be taken aback.
Here's a full list of some of the features that may be available in one of the retirement homes we list:
- 24-hr concierge
- Arts and crafts room and activities
- Billiards, pool tables and games room
- Bocce ball, horseshoe pits, shuffleboard and other outdoor activities
- Continuing education classes
- Fitness Studio, including personal trainer, exercise classes and more
- Gift Shop
- Golf facilities that may include an18 hole golf course, putting green, mini-putt, etc.
- Hairdresser and beauty salon
- Hobby kitchen
- Library or book room, reading room
- Movie theatre and movie nights
- Onsite foot care
- Pool – indoor or outdoor
- Pond and landscaped grounds
- Private dining room for family/friends
- Pub or bar
- Putting green indoor
- Spa services
- Team sports like softball, etc.
- Wellness center
The thing that surprises many people when they walk into one of today's retirement homes is the amount of activity you can find. Not only are these facilities listed above available, but they are well-used! Places are busy. The features and activities also go a long way to facilitating socialization and great new friendships.
7. Unexpected affordability
But don't let all those features floor you. These homes are more affordable than you might immediately realize.
Ernie went through some initial "sticker shock" when he looked at the price of renting a suite in a retirement residence in the GTA. But then he realized that the price of everything is higher than you expect, including the sale price of his own home. "I'd never rented before. I had lived in a house for 50 years… [but when] I looked at what houses sell for [I soon realized] I had enough money," he said.
Muriel moved into senior care in Mississauga, in part after realizing how much she was actually paying to remain in her own home. "I was filling the car with gas twice a week, food was pushing $200 a week. There was heating and [all these other costs]." When she added them all up and compared that to the cost of moving into a retirement home – where she wouldn't need to drive, buy groceries, pay heat and hydro, pay upkeep on her vehicle (the list goes on) – she realized that "it could be done." Read more about people like Muriel and Ernie and how they could afford it.
On top of that, you may be surprised to find out that your family wants you live well; they may even chip in and help you. There are many ways that Canadians actually afford seniors' care. Living in Canada, there are many means (some of them hidden) at your disposal. Learn more about how people pay for retirement homes today.
Anecdotes from retirement communities
Here's a brief look at two communities whose features have pleasantly surprised people who have moved there. Read more in our full overview of retirement home testimonials.
The Scarborough Retirement Centre's gourmet club is 'one of the best ideas.'
The Scarborough Retirement Centre has a new gourmet club, a library and lots of activities. But the one amenity that nearly everyone talks about is the 24-hour tearoom, where residents can get a beverage or a snack.
"It's one of the best ideas I've ever seen," says Martha Freeman, 82. "A lot of people who can't sleep at night come down here, and there's always someone to chat with over a cup of tea."
Delmanor Glen Abbey is 'an added bonus'
The housekeeper, Shannon Bearstow, is giving their spacious apartment its weekly dusting and polishing, while their marmalade cat, Tiger, examines a visitor.
One reason Dr. Dick Potter, 91, and his wife, Enid, 82, moved from their house in Belleville to Delmanor Retirement Residence in Oakville, says Enid, "was we just couldn't get help in the house." An added bonus: Dr. Potter, Ontario's health minister from 1972 to 1974, has become steadier on his feet thanks to exercise classes and more activity.
Why Oakville? They have 11 grandchildren, some of whom live nearby, and nearly every week one or another comes by for a meal. "It's so nice in the dining room," says Enid. "And the staff are so friendly."
"Well, you are at home," says Shannon, pausing in her dusting.
Learn more about Delmanor Glen Abbey.