Here’s a few wee pieces of advice about rest homes and retirement villages it might be useful to know about, stuff I wish I’d known before helping out both my mother and my in-laws move in recent years—my mother into a rest home on medical advice; the latter into a retirement village by choice, then into a rest home because their quack said so. Advice they’ve offered that might just be helpful to you or your folks too.
First, everyone likes to be independent, but when being independent is becoming a struggle why not pay for someone else to sweat the small stuff for you, so you can spend what time and mobility you do have doing what’s really important to you (playing golf; compiling Satanic incantations; plotting world revolution) in what in every respect will still be “your own place.” Of those I’ve met, few who do make the move seem to regret being able to walk, or be wheeled, home from happy hour.
Also, it seems that the earlier you do move in, the more likely you’re going to be able to make friends there. If you move in when you’re still healthy and able to sink a couple every night, you’re more likely to make new friends who’ll stay with you as you age than you will if you wait until you’re deaf as a post and completely incontinent. There’s nothing that turns off a potential new scrabble companion so much as a pool of urine on the floor, and a partner who can’t hear the table talk.
So if you’re going to move, do it early.
Third, there’s a difference between a retirement unit, a rest home and a nursing home (see below). Some villages have all three; some don’t. This is more important than you might think.
There are spry 102 year-olds still living in their own apartments with no more need for medical care than our pedigree cat, but they’re the exception. over the course of most people’s retirement they’re probably going to need all three, choosing a village that does have all three makes the transition from one to the other far less painful for everyone concerned (including your children) and when you do make the move “upstairs” it means the friends you made “downstairs” are still around to remind you of that time you lost your teeth down the waste master.
Fourth, everyone likes to choose their new home themselves. But you never know when bits are going to start falling off, or a fall might leave you immobile, or when your quack might tell you it’s time for a move—and when or if that happens, you’ll be in no condition to look around yourself, leaving your kids to decide for you.
So if you want to plan ahead and make things easy for yourself, you can either be nice to your kids now (and who needs that kind of pressure), or you can make your decision on where you favour now so you’ll know in good time where you want to go. Just in case.
As for me however this is all academic, since both sets of parents are now well set-up and happy, and I plan on working right up until I’m 92 when I keel over and have a heart attack over my drawing board. I just though you might find it useful.
Q: What’s the difference between a retirement unit, a rest home and a nursing home ?
A: For some reason doctors, nurses, physios, social workers and operators of retirement villages always assume everyone knows the difference. I didn’t. Most people don’t. Why would you?
A retirement unit (either an apartment or a stand-alone unit) is just like a unit in a small village, and in the best retirement villages there is a continuum residing in these, from folk who are still independent, active and vigorous (those who’ve moved in early) to those whose physical horizons are becoming more limited. You usually buy this unit yourself.
A rest home unit provides for less active folk, who need help or care of some description. Depending on the village, you can either buy or rent, and in either case you pay a substantial monthly service fee on top depending on what services are needed. (Some villages also offer a “serviced apartment,” which is somewhere in between the retirement unit and the rest home unit.)
And a nursing home unit (or “hospital,” even though they can’t even draw blood) is for when you’re unable to do much at all for yourself.