When visiting his favorite restaurant, my dad can’t help but tell the waitress a goofy joke or two. At the grocery store, he sometimes stops to coo at a baby just for the joy of watching a little one giggle. My sisters and I smile, sigh, and sometimes we even roll our eyes (although, we’re all closer to 50 than 15). He may still like to make silly faces, but that’s just Dad. At 83, he’s not ready to be a seriously grumpy old man. And that playful spark of his—is a quality I cherish. I believe my dad agrees with Oliver Wendell Holmes who stated, “Men do not quit playing because they grow old: they grow old because they quit playing.”
So what promotes happiness and a playful attitude? Research shows that seniors who move to retirement communities often benefit from a happier and higher quality of life. It’s simply wonderful to feel secure, be surrounded by pleasant and caring people, and enjoy a variety of fun and engaging activities.
Yet, many people are not familiar with today’s independent retirement communities because they are a relatively new concept. Most are for those 62 or older, but realistically folks in their mid-70s and 80s move in when they no longer want to cook and clean, they tire of maintaining their homes, or they have become isolated and alone. Many retirees move to be near their children.
Most communities offer comfortable apartment homes with various amenities. The rent typically includes meals, utilities, weekly housekeeping, scheduled transportation and social activities. The price of community living may seem high at first glance. Yet, a cost comparison between maintaining a family residence and moving to a retirement community may be surprising.
Many seniors maintain and heat large homes when they are only using a few rooms. They may pay professionals to do housekeeping, yard work, and home maintenance. And at some point, help with daily tasks can become necessary. Living in a community offers simplicity, opportunities to socialize, and peace of mind.
There are many choices when deciding where to move.
Location, amenities, and costs all need to be carefully considered. I believe, however, you should take fun seriously too. Why grow old when you can stay young in the right surroundings. When visiting retirement communities, I suggest you observe the people you meet and ask yourself these questions.
1. Is the staff friendly and accessible? Ask how long staff members have worked there and look for a low turnover. You benefit when surrounded by people who are not only professional, but pleasant and enjoy their work so much they stay.
2. Will you enjoy socializing here? Take the time to chat with a couple of residents.
3. Are some of your favorite hobbies on the activities list? Is there something new and fun you’d like to try? Ask if you can meet the activities director and arrange a visit during an event, activity, or class that interests you.
And another tip: Ask if trial stays are offered. If they are, pack a bag and spend the night. A trial stay will allow you to experience the personality of the community and help you decide if it’s the right retirement option for you.