THE BLOG

Living in a Retirement Home: Is it a Positive Thing?

08/04/2012 01:40 EDT | Updated 10/03/2012 05:12 EDT
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Is living in a retirement home a positive thing? For many, yes. I have toured many of today's retirement communities and spoken to the seniors who live there about how much better their lives have become since they arrived.

I can also answer in the affirmative by reflecting on the place where living is often anything but positive -- a senior's own house when they have put off the decision to move to a retirement home for too long.

Hanging onto unhealthy surroundings

Hanging onto one's familiar surroundings even though those surroundings may be causing harm, is all too common for many older Canadians. It is much like staying too long in any relationship that has become unhealthy. There may be memories of better times, of independence, health and happiness but they cannot sustain a relationship that is no longer supporting the well-being of the people in it.

We all need the same things in order to stay healthy -- people to care about and who care about us, interesting things to do and the opportunity to contribute and to have our contributions valued. When a senior's home is bereft of those things, it is time to move to a place that can provide them.

Easier said than done

Yes, this is easier said than done. In my life, as in the lives of many sandwich generation adults, a couple very close to me is hanging onto those very same surroundings. But as is often the case, you cannot force someone to make a choice even if you think it's best for them. Your parents are adults; they were looking after themselves quite nicely before you came along and they'd like to continue doing so.

Eldercare advisor

One of the best ways to help your parents see that there is another -- possibly better -- option to their current living situation is to bring in an eldercare advisor. The advisor can serve as an impartial source of calm counsel for the family. Of course the transition to a retirement community won't happen overnight but rest assured that you have at least started things moving in the right direction.

Healthy living is alive and well

What many people don't realize is that the healthy lifestyle older adults need is alive and well in today's retirement communities. There are opportunities for lifelong learning, volunteering in the community and staying healthy with state-of-the-art exercise equipment. And the meals are amazing! Most importantly there are familiar faces that will become friends.

Feel the emotions before you move on

The decision to move from the home you've lived in for years to a new community where you may not know anyone is certainly difficult. Let your parents vent their anger or frustration and share their fear and sadness. They must work through all of it before moving on.

The important thing is to feel that you are making progress and that helping your parents transition to a retirement community is a positive thing. It is.