I am 43 years old and living in a Retirement Community
Vienna, Va. — Steve Gurney is 43 years old, exactly half the national average age of residents living in assisted living communities. On Feb. 9, Gurney will experience first hand what it is like to move into one of these communities by taking up temporary residence at Paul Spring Retirement Community in Alexandria, VA.
Nearly 20 years ago, Gurney founded the Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook, a comprehensive resource that provides details on all of the senior living options in the mid-Atlantic. He said, “I realized that I have spent my entire career helping families and elders make these choices, but I have never experienced the transition first hand as a resident. I will be using this experience to help families better understand this important life transition.”
Gurney will not be utilizing this experience to evaluate the level of care and amenities or to determine if a specific community or option is “good” or “bad.” Instead, he will be focusing specifically on the feelings and emotions that an individual faces when moving to a new and different living environment.
The inspiration for this project began last September when Gurney was taking his children to their first day of school. He said, “When I give my kids encouragement about their first day of school, it’s authentic because they know I have been through the same experience. This made me realize that I need to be more authentic by going through the same experiences that the readers of our publication and website are facing.”
Gurney recognizes that his experience will be somewhat artificial due to his age and the fact that he will not be a permanent resident. However, by focusing specifically on the emotions accompanying the transition of leaving his home, he feels that he will be able to share important insights with others.
After his stay at Paul Spring, Gurney plans to take up residence at a continuing care retirement community, nursing home, an independent living community for low-income seniors, and an Alzheimer’s-specific community. “Most people don’t recognize the wide variety of choices,” said Gurney. “By living as a resident in five different types of communities, I hope that this experience will also help families better understand the options.”
Gurney plans to document his experiences through a blog at www.proaging.com and in articles in Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook.