Can kids live in senior housing? Part one
Over the last month I had hundreds of discussions about moving to a retirement community with my 6 year old. Here are a few of the common responses that I received and some random thoughts and observations:
“Do you think he is going to be ok there?”
Because I have been to hundreds of communities and spent the exact same time by myself in a similar community back in February, I had absolutely no concerns about Asa’s well-being. In fact, I am more concerned about him being “ok” in my current neighborhood and community (just read the newspaper about suburban crime, education, violence, etc.).
I have never lived in a neighborhood where neighbors genuinely looked out for each other at the level they do in the two communities I have done immersions in. I feel that if we really lived in the community there would be dozens of people looking out after me, my wife and my kids, and genuinely interested in our thoughts, future and wellbeing. Obviously, we would be reciprocating.
“There are a lot of seniors who don’t want to live around kids and families, that’s why they move to those communities.”
I fully understand how at various life stages we might want to surround ourselves with others in the same situation, but I hope that we can work toward solutions that meet people’s needs without slapping a “label” on them. Because statements like this came up a few times in conversation, I fully expected that I might run into a resident that had a problem with me and Asa and us exploring this concept. This is not the case and I lost track of how many residents validated the concept. Most of the residents and staff would refer to how great it is when someone elses grandchildren visit, BUT how they don’t live there so its hard to form a relationship of meaning with them.
“What if your child is disruptive?”
I was probably most concerned about this. My kids are pretty well behaved, but sometimes they just “blow a gasket” and it’s quite a scene! I had a vision of this happening in the middle of dinner or at a huge community event. Then I would find myself having a polite conversation with management about our “exit strategy”. The good news is that we never had that problem!
The more I thought about it, I have never lived, worked, or visited a place where someone wasn’t disruptive! My definition of “disruptive” might be different than yours, but age should have absolutely nothing to do with it! I guarantee that in every senior community in this country there are people that some or most of the residents feel are “disruptive” living there already. So, are children MORE disruptive than adults? Are pets MORE disruptive than humans? I could go on, but I would be making sweeping “labels” on segments of our society – and I already shared my viewpoint on that topic!