Baby Boomers are set to prime the pump of expectations for our retirement/senior living options. When boomers can no longer live at home, I don’t think that they are going to take things lying down and are prepared to go fighting and screaming for what they want into a senior living facility.
If the thought of needing to go to a facility some day to receive help and care frightens you, you are not alone! But while you are able to do so, let me encourage you to decide what the things are that are important to you so that you can know what it is you are looking for.
I think that some senior living communities are beginning to get that people want much more than the feeling that they have been ‘put out to pasture’ and are seeking to provide services that are meant to be attractive to a new generation of seniors. Many baby boomers are part of a population that has embraced active living and full lifestyles. We are educated and well-traveled. Have spent our adult lives finding enjoyment in a variety of activities. We are a group that has, up until the most recent economic downturn, had access to more disposable income than many of the generations before. We like our technology and our gadgets. We love our leisure activities.
So what is it that we want in our ‘golden’ years?? If you don’t define it, it’s hard to look for it.
For me it is to stay in my own home for as long as is safely possible and without it being a problem for my kids. I need to move into a one floor home with an open floor plan and easy in and out access. It should have wide doors and hallways and a walk in shower. I want to be in a place where I can walk to some things hoping that by being where I can incorporate walking into my daily lifestyle I can stay fit and healthy for as long as possible.
I want lots of light and a place to sit outside and drink my coffee. I want room enough for my children and grandchildren to be able to come and visit without us being on top of each other. I want to have things around for them to do so that they want to come and visit (beaches nearby, shopping, restaurants, etc).
I want access to a hospital and other healthcare providers and a community that is involved. I local library would be a huge plus for me!
So in a senior living community I would also like many of the same things of course! I am realistic about the possibility of needing care beyond what I can get at home. I don’t know whether that will be a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) or not. But if it is, I would like for that community to incorporate some of the things that make my life feel full.
I know that when we reach the time of needing long-term ‘custodial’ care (help with bathing, dressing, etc.) there are certain realities about that kind of care that won’t change. But, we need that industry to focus back on real quality of life for this population. So:
Dear Long Term Care Providers,
It would bring me peace to know that I would have care that leaves me feeling good and well-loved in a place that can feel a bit like home. I want my caretakers to have the time to show me a little compassion and extra attention when my family can’t be nearby. Even when I might have to wait my turn to be taken to the bathroom, I want the person that comes to help me to really care about my needs.
I want my caretakers to care that I was a wife, mother, teacher and nurse. I want them to ask about my grandchildren or about how long I have been/was married. I want them to have time to rub lotion on my back at night before I go to sleep to help me relax and ease any discomfort that I may be experiencing from being up during the day (something that used to be a routine part of PM/bedtime care by nurses!)
I don’t need to be the only one that they are caring for that evening, but I would rather not be one of 15 to be cared for.
I want a bed that is comfortable with my own bedspread on it and things in my room that remind me of my life. I’d love to have my own room or be with my husband if we are both still around.
Please, always treat me with dignity even when I might be difficult; I won’t mean to be that way. Please try to feed me the foods I like and take time to learn whether I like to get up early and what time I like to go to bed. Ask me if I prefer a shower or a bath and then truly do your best to give me what I prefer.
Ask me what I am looking for and care enough to try to give it to me.
We all need to start having a vision for what we want. If we don’t know what to ask for, we won’t find what we are looking for. We may not get the whole list of wishes but if more and more of us boomers start communicating what it is we want, we have a better chance of getting some of it.
I think the competition between facilities is going to grow as the bubble of baby boomers ages. We can start by asking for some of those things for our parents. Not only will they benefit, but it might serve to drive the message home about what boomers want.
Even though you can’t always get what you want, I say that close to 100% of the time, you will never get what you don’t even ask for……
On the journey with you…….Kathy