Sometimes you just need to hear from someone who’s been there, to get the “inside scoop” on what it’s really like to live in a senior living community. This letter was written by a real resident three years after moving to his new home. His story shows how planning was one of the best things he and his wife did for themselves – and for their family.
We decided that we would walk together through the clubhouse entrance at 8:00 a.m. on July 31 as we had done three years ago when we were so eager, we couldn’t wait to get in to see the inside of the building and the apartment we hoped to call home for the rest of our lives. Moving here was something we wanted to do not just for ourselves but for our children, so they would never need to deal with concerns about their aging parents.
Our children were glad for us: this was a place where they knew we would have every need met. When our then six-year-old grandson visited for the first time he asked, “Grandma, are you going to live in this hotel suite the rest of your lives?” The answer was “Yes, we are!” He replied, “Wow!” We felt that the monthly fee for the two of us was very comparable to what we had been spending in a private home, and we were getting a whole lot more.
We’re eating more elegantly than we ever did on average. We began our lives in the Great Depression, and from the start we knew what it was to live economically. With good friends, We did like to have a very fine meal on occasion, but most of the time we ate and enjoyed rather simple meals. We have it really good here. We’ve been blessed with all we really need in life, but we never felt we were wealthy. This is a place where relatively ordinary people can afford to live well and be really secure.
Good as the food and economics may be, that’s not the best part. It’s the people — friendly and genuine people, both residents and staff. The day we moved in was, of course, unique. We were given a royal “Welcome Home” by the assembled staff members. This was a warm, friendly group, who was eager to do anything to help us get used to our new home. For our first meal that evening, we were ushered in ahead of everyone else, because we had been the first through the front door that morning.
When asked if we wanted to eat alone or with other people, we replied that we would eat with other residents. There were six of us, Emile, Carol, Jack, Ruth, my wife and me. We all sat at a single round table, attended by two nervous young waitresses and, surrounded by a large number of staff members. It was a pleasant experience; we had choices just like now. The meal probably went slowly; we had a lot to talk about as we ate. Time wasn’t important to anyone. In fact, for weeks we would spend close to two hours each evening at dinner. We were getting to know each other better and it was good. We continue to grow in the community, knowing and accepting each other’s individuality. We often recall that we knew only a few of our former neighbors really well. Here we have hundreds of good friends.
We have a vibrant community, lots of activities and lots of participation. There is plenty of laughter and enthusiasm here. After a water volleyball game, one of our many good friends said, “I never thought I’d be playing volleyball at an old folks’ home.” This isn’t an old folks’ home; it’s a place where very active people are getting older with happy friends. We have a wealth of diverse expertise and there’s always someone with knowledge ready to apply it to any problem. We’re still learning to use these resources. The process of moving past “What can the staff do for us?” to “How can we get organized to make good things happen?” isn’t easy. We appreciate the intellectual level of our residents, and there are many here who can challenge us all to keep using our brains. We have many opportunities to stretch ourselves and learn new things. Here we can exercise our minds as well as our bodies.
~A resident’s letter to his family