Growing old is a fact of life. There is no escaping it. Everyone is aging and one day, we will all be old. Unfortunately, stereotypes and negative perceptions about aging and seniors are everywhere. If you ask people what they think about elderly people, you hear terms like frail, fragile, unhealthy, etc.
In our youth-obsessed society, many people view aging as a problem to be fixed. But senior and senior homes are redefining what it means to grow old. Let’s take a quick look at what has changed. What does the future hold for seniors?
The Days of Old
There was a time when retirement inspired dread in the hearts of adults. It signified the end of your productive life. After all, productive work is how you contribute to society. If you are no longer working, then it is the end as a useful person.
People may talk about their golden years of retirement. But deep inside, practically everyone believed that being the senior meant the end of the best days of your life. Even if seniors didn’t think of themselves like that, it’s what young people thought about the elderly.
The sad thing about such stereotypes is that if you repeat it often enough, you’ll come to believe it. Research has shown a direct correlation between negative thoughts and overall health. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You think you can’t do anything, which affects your physical and mental health which leads to more negative thoughts.
A consequence of such negative thinking is that seniors – and by extension senior homes – valued safety and security over everything else. Seniors were afraid to take risks with their health or life in general. Quite a few seniors avoid exercise because they’re afraid of injuring themselves. Or they may hesitate to travel or join a class they’ve always wanted to try.
What It Means to Be a Senior Today
A lot has changed over the years. For one thing, the age of retirement itself is no longer a definite line. Many seniors are choosing to work longer simply because they still can. Others take advantage of retirement to pursue entirely new careers. You will find many older adults work well into their 60s, even though they are ‘officially retired.’
In fact, seniors are looking at retirement with a fresh perspective. Retirement is now an opportunity. A chance to reboot and restart life. It’s the perfect time to experience things you couldn’t before. Retirees don’t have obligations, mortgages or children to worry about. So why not travel and see the world? Try out a new hobby! Do the things you never had time for. Reconnect with old friends. Meet new people. In fact, a lot of senior homes offer community engagement services so that their residents can have a chance to interact and meet their fellow residents. In short, retirement is the beginning of a new journey. Not the end of an old one.
There was a time when moving into a senior home was a step-down. You’ve lost your independence. You’re forced to move because you can no longer live alone. That’s not the case these days. Now seniors are actively planning their move to retirement communities. It’s an exciting opportunity to connect with others of the same age/career stage. It’s a chance to be involved in a new community.
Comfort and Technology
Today, seniors demand more than just safety and security. They want to be in control of their health and life. They want comfort, the latest technology and to stay engaged socially. Moving into a senior home should not mean a complete disconnect from the outside world. Senior homes equipped with good Internet services can help ease the transition process and are ultimately better suited for seniors of this day and age. It’s not surprising to find seniors running their own business, volunteering or teaching at local schools. Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to contribute.
Seniors are also all about staying active. Exercise doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. Even a hobby like gardening or dancing is physical exercise. Playing games – on a board or console – is a great way to keep your mind sharp as well. Move over bingo, Wii sports is here! A senior moment no longer means forgetting your keys. It’s a chance to explore and have fun.
What The Future Holds
The future looks to be an exciting opportunity for seniors. Older adults can expect to live for 3 or 4 decades after retirement. So why limit yourself? Seniors will continue to pursue education and work long after they cross the magic age of 60. In fact, we need to rethink our current model of productivity. No doubt the future holds more opportunities for seniors in the workforce.
All this change means retirement homes have to rethink their model of care as well. Seniors have higher disposable income than ever before. They demand more and better services than in the past. They’re willing to take risks and explore possibilities. They’re more comfortable with technology than the previous generation. Senior homes have to build a community for their residents. Keep up or be left behind!