Dr. Corinne Auman, Certified Senior Advisor, is an experienced educator, researcher, and entrepreneur. She currently teaches in the Gerontology department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is president of Choice Connections of North Carolina, and the author of the RockingChairSecrets.com blog. She can be reached at 336-215-1664.
My aunt called me recently with a question: How do I know when I’m ready for a retirement community?
Her question was important because she had just received a call from a community saying that she had made it to the top of their waiting list and they had an apartment waiting for her … IF she was ready to move.
So there was the question. Was she ready?
To give you a little backstory, my aunt had been on the waiting list for this community for 11 years. Yes, that’s right, ELEVEN YEARS.
She had put her name on the list all those years ago on a whim, not really sure that she would ever really move there, but figuring that it couldn’t hurt.
And now the moment had arrived. Is it time to move? I started with some basic questions.
Do you like the community? She loved the community and had been volunteering there for years.
Do you want to keep maintaining your house? No, she already found the yard and house maintenance burdensome.
Can you afford it? Yes, she met all the financial requirements.
So what is the problem? Why WOULDN’T you move?
And here was the crux of the issue. She replied, “I’m just not sure I’m old enough.”
Now, let’s be clear. My aunt is 76 years old. So she more than meets the 65+ age requirements for a retirement community. What she was expressing was that she doesn’t FEEL old enough to be moving in with all those perennials.
This is a common experience. I once worked with a 94-year-old who said, “I don’t want to go live with a bunch of old people.” Umm … OK. Do you know that most of them are younger than you? (No, no … I didn’t really say that! I just thought it.)
These feelings stem from age-related stereotypes from which perennials themselves are not immune. They believe that living with other perennials will cramp their style or slow them down. Or even that somehow aging is contagious and they might “catch it” from others.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If seniors move to retirement communities while active and in good health, they can enjoy all the amenities these communities have to offer, such as pools, golf courses, and theater outings, etc. It can bring a new kind of freedom in the form of new friends and opportunities, and fewer obligations, such as yard work and cleaning your two-story, four-bedroom house.
So back to my aunt. Did she move? Yes, she did. And so far, so good. I’ll check back in with her again in a few months, once all the boxes are unpacked.