In more than 20 years of working with seniors I have come to know one important fact – a typical senior at a retirement community will become friends with over 100 new people within a year of moving into the community. I call this “the secret.” It’s a secret because only people living in a retirement community actually understand this truth – and just how quickly they make and establish a network of good friends!
I’ve tested this premise by asking a simple question to groups of people who DO NOT live in a retirement community: “How many of your neighbors – in your neighborhood – do you know well enough to invite over for dinner?” The common answer is typically: “I can count them on one hand – three, maybe five people.” I also frequently hear: “Well, I’m friendly with a lot of my neighbors but I’d consider only a few to be very good friends.”
When I ask this same question to residents at a retirement community, their answer comes quickly: “I know about a 100 people.” Or, they tell me: “I know about 100 really well and another 100 I see regularly, but may not know their names.”
Perhaps the thing that people love most about living in a retirement community is – the people. That’s “the secret.” The friendships made while living in a retirement community are priceless. I also regularly hear that folks wish they had moved in sooner. All too often, people wait until there is a health issue that drives them to look into a retirement community. Sometimes a crisis occurs and it’s too late for a community to allow admission for the potential resident.
I encourage people to get out and visit retirement communities. See what there is out there. Perhaps one may be attracted to the fitness opportunities like water aerobics or balance classes. Others may be interested in the life-long learning opportunities offered, or perhaps the opportunity for socialization and the involvement within the array of activities that are attractive to seniors.
I have had the opportunity to witness hundreds of happy seniors embark on the journey of a move to a retirement community. Yes, the downsizing and moving can be a challenge. However, the reward comes in knowing you have the security of a great plan for your future. That plan assures you a peace of mind - knowing you’ve made a wise decision and have a wonderful plan in place for the rest of your life.
Mike Wallace has marketed senior living communities all over the United States for more than 20 years. He is VP of Sales and Marketing for Spectrum Consultants, Inc. in Gastonia, NC.