Retirement Communities: Institutional Care or Permanent Vacation?

Are we sending mixed messages to the senior community about retirement? For the last 50 years the word retirement has broadly meant “a place of privacy and seclusion and withdrawal from an occupation”. This clubmeddefinition fits the institutional images of nursing homes and severe types of assisted living….do the images of institutional care really sell the dream today? The words “retirement community” in that context describe a morbid, clinical situation. The words “retirement home” carry emotional baggage that rests upon the sales and marketing techniques from the last 30 years on what to expect from retirement. Today on the other hand, many retirement communities are pitching a holistic approach to community living, focusing on learning, wellness, community activities and fostering personal growth. How about the commercials that show retirement communities as a senior version of Club Med? Maybe we should get ready for Club Med to start selling to seniors rather than families and have “senior only” resorts rather than couples only? Speedos and wrinkles…..Wait a minute….retirement is a vacation BUT only for those who plan correctly financially and have the good fortune to be healthy enough to live the dream that is being sold. For the rest of us, a slow demise watching Drew Carey on the Price is Right and playing bridge might be our version of shuffle board and scuba diving.