Tips on selecting a retirement center

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2003

Ready to retire? Got all the ins and outs in place? I’m not being nosy; I’ve done it already. Put in eight years so I feel I’m an expert to discuss this particular situation. Can’t say how you feel about retiring but wanted to and didn’t want to. I taught second-grade in New York. That’s where they pay the big money. Now, that became a problem. I was living so well and hated to see it end. Familiar? Of course! Then the decision was taken from my hand; I had a stroke! Results of stroke vary. Can be speech

– you can lose it. Here are a few more things that happen with a stoke: You cannot walk, reason, think clearly or do everyday things you’ve done without thinking. If there can be anything lucky in a stroke, I got it. Speech – OK. Movement – a slight loss here. Reasoning – never lost it. I’m doing it now recalling what I’d like to forget. You’ll thank me later.

So, not being able to handle my condo (which I loved) my family said I was to do these things in order: 1) send in to Board of Ed word I was retiring. I hated it, but did. Now, where to go? I’ll skip the search and say I landed here. After eight years here I feel I can speak with some authority to tell you a few important things to look for (and expect) in selecting your new home.

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Go visit this new dwelling and look for cleanliness. Floors of hall, unless carpeted, you should see your face in. I kid you not. Next, the sounds tell a good deal. Happy? Some laughter? Games playing? A silent center – no one seen about coming and going – avoid! Check the office. Happy staff? If not, neither will you be. Ask for program of activities. If none available – run! If available, ask to come and visit while an activity is presented. Watch faces of residents – this tells you plenty. Don’t use me as an example. I’ll talk your ear off. See more than one room – ask about decorating it. Come and see mine if you can wade through hundreds of books and papers. Don’t forget important feature. How much? Not cheap, but what is today? Check other places. It’s eye opening.

Other items to consider:

Near family and friends?

Freedom to come and go?

Know any one here? (At this center I’ll guarantee they know cousin No. 15 – unlike New England, my home area. We don’t know cousin No. 2 many times.

I’m happy here I’m free to come and go as I please, have wonderful friends. Sufficient activities and I can still write. You just keep reading it and I’ll say thanks.

Florence Arena is a resident of Hillcrest Retirement Center and a regular News-Herald columnist.