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If Only All Retirement Homes Were Like This

If Only All Retirement Homes Were Like This

Quite a number of years ago my Grandmother had to be placed in a assisted living retirement home towards the end of her life.

By all accounts the residence was nice. It was clean, she was well attended to and they had a few activities happening onsite to keep her busy. Even though she never complained I just knew by looking at her that she was not really that happy.

I remember when I visited her thinking that it seemed so many of the residents that she was surrounded by seemed like they were there just waiting for the end to come. There didn’t seem to any real ‘life’ in the complex.

After my Grandmother passed and I reflected on her stay at the residence all I could think about was this was definitely not how I would like to live my final days.

I hoped that should I (or anyone else I loved) ever reach that point that we would have a different experience. However given my perceptions about retirement homes/assisted living options I really wasn’t sure what the likelihood of that actually happening would be.

There may be hope.

A while back I read an interesting article about a program in the eastern Netherlands where the University students do not pay rent at a retirement home in exchange for spending at least 30 hours with the residents doing things that the staff don’t necessarily have time to do (such as playing games, visiting, socializing, etc).

I thought this was an amazing idea.

This benefits both the residents and the students and allows for  socializing and bringing some ‘life’ back into the building. Given that loneliness is such a dangerous health risk to older people, I thought this was an innovative way to combat this.

I also recently discovered the following story by the CBC of a retirement home in Chicago also taking a similar innovative approach. Music students are allowed to stay in the home in exchange for playing for the residents and spending time with them.

When you watch the video, you can just see the closeness of the relationships developing between the generations and how it has moved past the exchange of services to actual caring and appreciation of each other as human beings.

This gives me hope that should I reach this stage of my life and need support, there may be something a little different waiting for me.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.