Five Myths of Retirement Communities

Monday January 16, 2017
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Five Myths of Retirement Communities

Some of the most common myths about living in a retirement community are below! Have any myths you want answered/ 

Myth #5:         My family and friends won’t be able to stay with me if I move into a retirement community.

Truth:              Your apartment is your home! Many residents who expect to have overnight guests will have a pull-out couch in their living room or will choose a two-bedroom apartment so they have a second bedroom to use as a guest room.  While each community is different, most also offer guest suites for a small fee, which are available for use by residents’ friends and families.

 

Myth #4:         I will be forced to participate in activities.

Truth:              Not at all!  While there is a wide array of activities and events to choose from, in Independent Living, the choice is always yours.  And today, it’s not just the typical bingo or crafts that you might expect: travel clubs, educational classes taught by Ph.Ds, writing clubs and more are offered in communities. Many studies have found that socialization – even from just attending one meal a day in a community setting – is beneficial to our physical and mental wellbeing.  The mental stimulation that comes from playing card games, conversation and learning a new skill all help slow the effects of Alzheimer’s and other age-related cognitive declines.

 

Myth #3:         Retirement communities are full of “old people!” 

Truth:              In the 1980’s, the average age of residents moving into a retirement community was approximately 76 years. Today, because we are all living longer, the average age of seniors moving into retirement communities is 86. We have all heard that old adage, “Age is nothing but a number”, after 12 years in the senior living industry, I know this to be 100% true!  I have known 90 year olds who can run circles around me (and still do), and people in their 40s who act 90.  My grandma always says that when she looks in the mirror, she is shocked to see an 86 year old, rather than the 19 year old she feels inside.

 

Myth #2:         Retirement communities are where people go to die.

Truth:              Death is certain, and it is a part of life that no one likes to think about.  And who knows, if we are lucky, we might all live to be in our 80’s or 90’s. So, why not think of this as the next exciting chapter in your life?  Do you really want to spend the next chapter dealing with a pool company, repair men and house cleaning?  With all of the opportunities to meet new people, learn new hobbies or just have more time to yourself – retirement communities give you the ability to finally focus on what you really want to do, versus what you have to do.

 

Myth #1:         All retirement homes are dark, dingy and depressing.

Truth:              This myth stems from what nursing homes used to be like…in the 1950’s and 60’s! Retirement communities have come a long way since then.  Today, most retirement communities strive to offer a style of living that is active and vibrant, while still providing the space you need for peace and privacy. One great example of this type of community is Fellowship Square Phoenix, located in north central Phoenix. Featuring park-like grounds, a library, billiards, activity room, heated pool, a prayer garden and more, Fellowship Square Phoenix provides its residents with “a peaceful, active and meaningful place to call home”.

 

Another optional myth: “Assisted living communities don’t look out for their residents; I’ve heard so many news reports of abuse and neglect!”

Truth:             

Unfortunately, there are some communities that have gotten into trouble by providing sub-standard care and worse.  However, there are many more communities who continually offer the best in quality care, housing and services.  When looking for senior living communities, no matter what level of care, do your research! Many people focus exclusively on the décor, paint colors, furnishings – which are all important, but those things don’t speak to the quality of care and services offered.

Consider these:

  • How do residents and employees react while you are on tour?  Do people smile and say hi?  Or do they avoid eye contact with you? 
  • Are residents and employees interacting with each other?
  • Are the common areas and hallways clean & well lit?
  • What activities and exercise programs does the community offer?  Ask for a few months’ worth of community newsletters.
  • It is always important to try the food!  When making an appointment for a tour, be sure to tell them that you would like to stay for lunch. While you are at it, consider having lunch with a current resident, they can be a great source of information!

Assisted living and skilled nursing communities are surveyed annually by the Arizona Department of Health Services; you can search for a community’s survey results by visiting www.azdhs.gov.

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