February 15, 2014
By Sandie Hugg, ACV’s Chief Program Officer
I am happy to say that I feel privileged to be a member of Advent Christian Village, as well as a staff member. I live in the independent living portion of this outstanding retirement community. My family would love for me to move back to Tallahassee so that we could see more of each other. The thought of that makes my heart sing. However, when I honestly examine how different that would be from what we do now, I conclude that their already busy lives really can’t fit in more time for me than they already do. My life would drastically change, but not in the positive way I would desire. Besides, I love living in this community!
We hear many family members of senior adults say they would rather have their parents live with or near them than in a retirement community, so they can spend more time together. Who wouldn’t want that? But, there are tradeoffs. It’s easy to overlook the benefits of retirement community life, because many imagine it to be a place where people sit around in rocking chairs looking depressed. The reality is that many retirement communities offer an outstanding life for their residents, where, after settling in, people actually thrive beyond a level they have known for many years. Consider the benefits of retirement community life.
Many of our members say that moving here opened up an amazing new chapter to their lives that they never thought possible.
First, the sense of camaraderie among residents is very difficult to find elsewhere. Peers from a variety of backgrounds and experiences live in one location and see each other daily. The close proximity offers far more opportunities for interaction than virtually any other setting. It is quite common for residents of retirement communities to develop more and deeper friendships than ever and the result is an amazing support system.
Most include fitness facilities in order for resident’s to feel their best and remain healthy and active. This in itself is a huge benefit toward overall wellbeing. We have many members whose doctors have reported that they have avoided heart attacks, strokes and fractures because they are regularly exercising. And workouts become more fun when they become a group event.
Services are available and easily arranged when needed. This gives an amazing sense of security to senior adults, who may not need services now, but enjoy knowing that if they ever do, they are easily accessed.
No longer having to keep up with household or lawn maintenance is one benefit that many of our members report as a huge weight off their shoulders. Their time is freed up for what they really want to do, and they know there is someone who will look after any issues that come up so they don’t have to.
Outside such communities, activities of interest are sometimes only available on weekends or evenings, leaving hours of the day without such opportunities. Active seniors sometimes have difficulty finding activities that interest and stimulate them. In retirement communities, a smorgasbord of activities is available to choose from throughout the day. Some appeal to more active seniors and others to those who prefer a quieter lifestyle. All tastes and activity levels are taken into account.
While on the subject of activities, many have the idea that all there is to do is golf or play bridge. They are looking for more meaning in their later years. Many retirement communities today are offering classes for resident’s continued enrichment and growth. Volunteer opportunities are available to encourage people to keep their skills sharp and to give them a continued sense of purpose. Faith-based communities offer spiritual enrichment and opportunities for service.
We commonly hear people say they are not ready to move to a retirement community. They want to wait until their health forces them to make that move. Those who do so find themselves arriving in a community without being able to enjoy the best things about it. While the community can still benefit them at that point, their health prevents them from participating in the events and amenities that make it so enjoyable. Adjustments are always more difficult at that point. They haven’t had an opportunity to form friendships first, so they don’t have as strong a support system. Therefore, they feel lonelier and have a harder time acclimating than those who move before they “need” to.
There is so much that retirement communities offer, why would they wait? Many of our members say that moving here opened up an amazing new chapter to their lives that they never thought possible. So, before you encourage Mom and/or Dad to move close to you, take a moment to think about what they would be missing out on with such a move.
Take it from me; living in a retirement community is a wonderful way of life. Encourage your parents to do it now and enjoy life. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I live at Advent Christian Village. I’m happy to say this is where I intend to live out my retirement years!