Why I am moving into a retirement community?
“Why are you doing this?” That’s always the first of many questions I get hit with when I share my project.
The primary source of inspiration for this project came last September when I was taking my kids to their first day of school. On the drive over they asked me questions about school and I shared my experiences with them. They clearly trusted my perspective because they knew that I had been through many first days of school myself.
As I dropped them off and headed into the office, I reflected on the fact that over the last 20 years I have helped thousands of individuals and families make decisions on which senior housing option to select, yet I have never experienced what it really feels like to be a resident!
Shortly thereafter I was at a marketing/brainstorming meeting at Paul Spring Retirement Community with some of the management team of their parent company, Retirement Unlimited. When I threw out the concept of moving to a community to live as a resident, they thought it was a great idea and offered to have me move into Paul Spring immediately.
I am somewhat upset with myself for not doing this sooner in my career! The perspective that I have gained from simply thinking about this project has reinvigorated my passion to reinvent the way we view and define ‘aging’ in our culture. While I am proud of my accomplishments and service over the last 20 years, this exercise has helped me see how much I have missed. I am eager to share this perspective with you and look forward to your questions, feedback and challenges.
Here are a few more questions/comments that I have received recently, I will try to address questions in my future posts and videos, so keep them coming!
COMMENT: ” . . .I don’t believe at any of these levels you will be able to encounter what these people go through because, at 43, you have your health, your eyesight, your ability to still drive and care for yourself.” This has been a very common reaction to my project. Although I do drive, I won’t have a car in the parking lot, I won’t have a cell phone, I won’t be communicating with my office or my family. My goal is to immerse myself completely as a resident. I embrace the fact that will be living there as an able-bodied 43 year old. I want to feel what its like and share my feelings and reactions “here and now”. One of the reasons that my blog is titled “Everyone is Aging” because I see how much we use the word “aging” to describe loss or changes in health, vision, etc.
Try to think of my approach as a high school student living at a college before he has been admitted!
QUESTION: How do you think that the other residents of the community and the family will view this? I am preparing a letter that will go to all residents, which I will post on the blog shortly. My letter will describe why I am doing this, how I want to be viewed as another resident and not a guest. It will explain that this isn’t investigative journalism, but an opportunity for me to share my perspective on the feelings that one goes through in this transition. I won’t be “interviewing” the other members of the community, but having conversations with my new neighbors. I will do my best to immerse myself in being their new neighbor.