An Honest Conversation: Exploring Retirement Living with a Loved One

Portrait of an old woman with her adult daughter.

Earlier this year, we sat down with a panel of five adult children who had recently helped to move their aging parent into a retirement community. We wanted their thoughts on everything from what prompted their conversation about senior living with their parent to how they felt on move-in day. Our hope is to provide valuable insight to others in the process of helping an aging loved one navigate the next phase of their life, and to remind you that you’re not alone.

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Explore Chartwell’s Rhythm ‘n’ Moves exercise class with Lifestyle & Program Manager Tracey McDonald

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When some of my residents hear Rhythm ‘n’ Moves is a physical fitness program, they assume the activity is beyond their abilities, but that’s the beauty of the class—it’s suited for seniors of all fitness and mobility levels! Completed from the comfort of a chair, Rhythm ‘n’ Moves is essentially a workout set to upbeat music. The first word that comes to mind when I think of it is fun. In my retirement residence, I get a group together and choreograph dance moves that get everyone’s hearts pumping and cheeks hurting from contagious laughter. When I first invite a resident to join the program, they may feel hesitant, unsure of what to expect, but once they see how much fun can be had, and how nonjudgmental the atmosphere is, they’re sold! Today, I have anywhere from 20-25 participants each week, and we’ve memorized so many choreographed songs that we even perform them at various venues in our local community.

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Ask Our Residents: Is retirement living an affordable option?

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Though Shirley has been living at her Chartwell retirement residence in Whitby for nearly two years, we first became acquainted with her via our Facebook page back in January. “I joined Facebook years ago, when it first became popular, because it was a way for me to stay connected with my grandkids,” she explains. “I began following Chartwell’s page when they first launched.” When Shirley happened upon one of our posts earlier this year, where a user had shared her opinion that a retirement lifestyle was too pricey, and seniors were better off staying in their homes, she decided to join the conversation.

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Ask Our Experts: The role of socialization in seniors’ health and wellness

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A popular misconception that I’ve come across since I started in the industry 23 years ago is that seniors choose a retirement living lifestyle solely because they’ve experienced a health scare and now require the availability of care services—but that couldn’t be more untrue! In fact, many of the residents I’ve come to know well have chosen to move in for a variety of reasons: because they no longer wish to maintain a home (which entails a lot of work, as we all know—from cutting grass and shovelling driveways to every day clean-up and repairs), could benefit from some help with cooking nutritional meals or getting back and forth to appointments, or simply because they feel lonely living on their own. On this last point I’d like to talk further.

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Ask Our Experts: How do I start the conversation about retirement living with my loved one?

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My mom lives on her own in a condo in the city. She’s in fairly good health for a 91-year-old, but she’s having some trouble with her eyesight and she isn’t able to walk long distances anymore. My siblings and I live outside of the city, so we take turns commuting downtown to take her out for groceries or to appointments, which can be difficult. Aside from that, we’re also worried she’s been lonely on her own since my dad passed away a year ago. Mom’s an independent soul, so we’re not sure how to bring up the topic of retirement living with her. Do you have any advice?

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