OK, so we’ve introduced you to the concept of Second Retirement and we’ve discussed the need for preparation and flexibility in choosing your retirement living options. Now we would like to address some of the most common fears that people have about moving to a retirement community.

Like most issues we’ll discuss regarding retirement living, there are fears that are popular, but unfounded. There are also real dangers that go largely unnoticed, and these should definitely be feared. Today, we’ll break down the first group and get to the truth behind the most common fears of retirement community living.

Unfounded Fears

We all have fears that are irrational – it’s part of being human. And, just because a fear is irrational, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t affected by it. Here are some of the most common things that potential residents say that they fear and the truth behind them.

“I’ll be forgotten by my family and friends.”

Fear of being forgotten tops our list. For some reason, we often have this image in our minds of poor neglected old people sitting in wheelchairs in dining rooms with no one to talk to. Just like every other issue that we have challenged so far, we need to remember that our perception of what it means is colored by our previous experience.

Today’s retirement communities are not yesterdays nursing homes. Modern facilities feature tons of opportunities to socialize and spend time with other people of all ages.  The truth is that the people who are most important in your life will remain close regardless of where you live.  The friends and family who are an integral part of your life now will continue to play an important role even if you move to a retirement community – especially if your retirement community is loaded with things for you to do together when they visit.

Moving to a retirement community will, not only allow you to keep your loved ones close, but it will also give you opportunities to build new relationships that can help you live longer, happier, and healthier.

“I feel like I’m giving up.”

Next is the fear that moving to a retirement home is somehow “giving up” on living. Again, we need to begin by challenging the negative images that come to mind, because of past experience. Just because someone you know “gave up” when he or she moved to a retirement home, doesn’t mean that you will. In fact, let’s just look at some of the things you actually will give up.

By moving into a retirement community you will give up the opportunity to perform maintenance on your home. Remember all of those weekends spent on home improvement projects? Not the ones that turned out, but the ones that left you swearing in the garage, looking for tools you couldn’t find, and thinking that the handymen on PBS had to have been cheating.

Think about the expensive emergencies that come with home ownership like leaky pipes, broken windows, and failing appliances. We’re sorry to tell you this, but you will have to give up the fun of trying to find extra money on the spot to replace the air conditioner, furnace, or water heater. You also won’t get to rake leaves, cut grass, trim bushes, prune trees or spread mulch.

The truth is that you won’t be “giving up” at all. In fact you’ll have more options that you ever had before. With someone else handling all of the day to day chores around the house, you’ll be able to spend your time pursuing your favorite hobbies, learning new skills, and socializing with really great people who share your memories and experiences.

“I’ll age faster and die sooner.”

The third fear on our list is that moving to a retirement community will cause us to age faster and die sooner. We usually base this concern on the memory of someone we knew who died shortly after entering a retirement community. So was it the move that caused them to decline quickly? Let’s work it out.

In a major study conducted at UC-Irvine Dr. Claudia Kawas reviewed the medical histories of 14,000 older Americans (including 1,600 who lived past 90). Her findings were featured on the TV Show 60 Minutes in a story reported by Leslie Stahl called 90+. Surprisingly, here is what she found.

The people who lived the longest with the best quality of life were those who exercised, socialized and utilized themselves. She found that those who lived into their nineties exercised at least 15 minutes of exercise each day and then remained active throughout the rest of their day.

These folks also had very active social lives spending lots of time with friends their own age enjoying activities like dancing, low-impact sports, and playing games that encouraged group participation.

Finally, the “oldest old” as they were playfully called, consistently engaged in activities that made them feel useful. They worked jobs, volunteered and remained active in their community well into their older years.

Here’s the kicker, all of these people were residents of a retirement community just south of Los Angeles. Some made their homes in independent housing, some lived in apartments, and others assisted living. You see, it made no difference where they lived. What truly mattered was how they lived.

“I’ll lose control of my life.”

For some reason the people we encounter in this business seem to always think that moving to a retirement community means that they lose the ability to go where they want when they want and do what they want. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Many retirement community residents still own and drive cars. They shop for themselves, cook for themselves, entertain their friends and family, and do pretty much whatever they want. Those who elect not to own a vehicle can make use of transportation services provided by the retirement community to access local attractions and restaurants, but it’s a choice.

In the study mentioned above, several of the 90+ year-old people still own and operate a vehicle, manage their own finances, eat what they want, go where they want, and do what they want. Just because you live in a patio home, apartment, or assisted living suite, doesn’t mean that you cannot be in charge of your own life. It just means that someone is there to help if you want or need it.

“I’ll have no peace and quiet”

This one comes from the Bingo haters in the crowd. If we’re not busy seeing retirement communities as desolate, smelly, lonely places, we see them as the opposite. We picture living in an endless carnival of busying activities, social events, and craft classes. This leads us to the fear that we’ll never have another moment of peace and quiet.

The truth is that retirement communities do provide a seemingly endless array of activity choices. The operative word there is “choices”. Just because you moved to a retirement community for the positives we’ve already mentioned, doesn’t mean that anyone is going to cram your opportunities down your throat. You are still a grown adult who is capable of deciding when and what you do.

If you would have enjoyed a lot of quiet time in your house, you will still enjoy it in a retirement community. However, you don’t have to. So, when you’re ready to go and hang out with your friends, you can, because the fun is right outside your door.

Hopefully, we’ve helped you think through some of the things that may have concerned you about retirement communities. Have you ever made any of these statements to someone? Are their other things that you fear about possibly moving to a retirement community? Contact us and we will be happy to tell you whatever you want to know.