I thought a letter to the editor published in the Wall Street Journal on November 11, 2021 from Jane Shaw Stroup contained a number of good insights on retirement center living from someone whose husband had recently died after the couple spent five years in a community. Jane Shaw Stroup is a retired nonprofit executive and her husband, Richard L. Stroup, was an economist. The couple moved into a retirement community in Raleigh, N.C. in 2017.
Key points in Mrs. Stroup’s letter include:
Experience was mixed but generally a good one.
Your friends are close by, with was important during the depths of COVID pandemic. A small group of us met once week for wine and snacks during the pandemic.
A retirement center has some resemblance to a college dorm, but that a good thing. You are able to meet people at meals, exercise classes, lectures and clubs.
Having gym and a restaurant downstairs makes life easier.
Retirement centers are full of people who have experienced long, interesting lives – lots of opportunities for good conversation.
Emptying the contents of one’s home and selling it are poignant experience but leaving the process to one’s children may not be the right approach.
A retirement community can only succeed if it has caring staff who tolerate the foibles of older people. We were never reprimanded or chided by the staff even though we did some stupid things, like forgetting to push the button each morning to let staff know you are okay.
A retirement center is a place where you don’t have to be smarter or younger than you are. And a place where many friends can ease the loss of a spouse.