Why would I want to move into a Senior Housing Community?

Good question! Are we beyond the perception of senior housing being “an old folks home?” That is often what we may hear from an elder adult when exploring the possibility of living in a communal setting in an independent or assisted living community. What many discover is a new lifestyle opportunity, as my grandmother Dora did.

My grandmother Dora had significant visual decline due to macular degeneration, and also had mobility issues. She began occupying smaller and smaller areas of her home. She quit going upstairs and rarely used her bedroom. She spent a lot of time on the couch in her living room watching TV and eating microwaved meals. She could no longer drive safely, and had no way to maintain connections with friends, social groups, and church friends. Usually a vibrant, intelligent, optimistic life-long learner, and fiercely independent woman, she became depressed, and reclusive. She was feeling lonely and helpless.

My grandmother’s independence was apparent when she made the decision herself to do something about her situation and make a move to a senior housing community. Remarkably, this choice changed her life. Instead of sitting alone in her home watching TV, she now had a table of new friends to eat meals with (and a chef to prepare the meals). She organized and led an outreach mission to the homeless in partnership with the community. Her church family held monthly “circle” meetings in the community room where she was the president of the Women’s Society. She learned to use a computer to connect with email.

Looking back, I saw that Grandma Dora was pulling inward and becoming isolated, and it was in large part due to her environment of being alone in her home. With the opportunities presented to her in her new senior housing home, she became more active and more outgoing, and found purpose again.

It is important to recognize that it is a very big decision to move from home to an assisted living or independent living community. And — it is also important to note that a renewal of spirit can be a result of the move to a social setting with support. It can be a thoughtful, intelligent decision — not something to be dreaded. It may just be the next adventure! Dora’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren loved to visit their happier, fun and smart grandma — calling her “Grandma Dora, the explorer!”

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