Monday, April 30, 2012

Eldercare Tip: Choosing a Retirement Community is Like Dating, Pt. 2

Choosing a retirement community for your aging parent is like dating.  At least that's what I said in my last post. In both processes, you focus on finding a good fit, looking not only for beauty but also personality and character. And retirement communities have all of these qualities, in one degree or another.  The bottom line is finding something you and your parent can live with, as happily ever after as possible.

One reader, my friend Mark Whitesell, pointed out that a person shouldn't "date" just one facility and call it good. "A person can't make a good choice if they don't know what else is available," Mark said. I couldn't agree more!

The importance of looking at several communities came home to me a decade ago when a 92-year-old woman came into our community with her family.  "This is a lovely place," she said with a twinkle in her eye.  "But I'm just not sure I'm ready to be around these old people."

I asked her family, "What do the rest of you think about Esther moving to a retirement community?" They said she seemed lonely, wasn't eating well, and memory issues were hurting her ability to make good decisions.

"Esther, I want you and your family to feel good about this decision. So why don't you visit a few more communities, and then see what you think?" I could see the stress lift from the woman's face.

A few weeks later, Esther called me. "I want that apartment you showed me!" She'd visited two other communities, and was now ready to make a move. Her family wisely gave her space to process her decision, and opportunities to see what was available.  And bingo, the process worked!

Can you tell me about the process of choosing a retirement community for your aging parent?

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