Thank you Krisan and Bob for your work compiling this list.
We spoke to seniors who have been staying, or “Wintering” in various communities for multiple years. One couple has stayed in multiple retirement communities since the late 1970’s. Length of stays ranged from 6 weeks to 6 months. Communities, or retirement resorts discussed were located in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Wisconsin.
The #1 draw, or retention for seniors to stay in a community has been the friendships cultivated. They have found that Mid-Westerners mix well with all groups and have a tendency to be more “welcoming”. Many from Central Canada also share the same personality traits and have similar acceptance tendencies towards others. This couple noted that their experiences reflected that Deep Southerners and West Coasters tended to have minimal “openness” towards persons with different ways of doing things. In one couples experience, arrivals of visiting grandchild/ren who may struggle with social settings due to cognitive disabilities, etc., had been frowned upon by some groups. In my opinion, this should not be an issue within the Intentional Community because all residents should fully understand the purpose and goals of this specific community.
NEED TO BE USEFUL
Another common factor was the need to be needed, and feel useful. Obviously within the Intentional Community the need is great, and the usefulness is self explanatory. In the more traditional retirement communities, these issues are met through activities. (Partial list below) Individuals offer or develop group activities based on their own personal interests. Activities can range from card games to tennis to walks to crafts to potlucks/community meals. The options are endless as far as what a senior may wish to pursue. Not all activities will work for all residents, either seniors or clients. An activity may not work for clients, but a senior group may still desire to gather and participate.
Seniors need stimulation. Daily. Depending on their health and abilities, several times a day. Mental, physical and hands-on activities need to be offered and encouraged.
In the majority of the retirement communities discussed, available activities were a “must have” for the seniors. Some were staff led activities, while others were initiated by seniors based on their own interests. Staff led activities could be introduced, continued if it was well received and enough interest was generated. Recurring activities could be led by a senior volunteer; fulfilling a needed and useful role for that individual. Many seniors enjoy organizing activities, teaching others, demonstrating techniques, while others enjoy the challenge of learning new things, and “doing” while led.
Activities offered were nearly unlimited – if someone had an interest, it was tried. Failures were not really an issue since interest, or lack of, dictates whether or not an activity continues.
The biggest failures of any part of the communities were the result of poor attitudes, grumpy, unsmiling staff. Seniors with negative attitudes were not offered a “returning reservation”.
Quote: “Life is too short to deal with grumpy, unhappy people. Why would seniors want to stay some place with that type of atmosphere. Staff, volunteers, etc. should all be smiling and upbeat. If the seniors are happy, everything else flows along happily also.”
VARIOUS ACTIVITY INTERESTS
Lists are examples and not meant to be all inclusive nor limited
Learn a new language
CRAFTS – Projects can range in duration from mere minutes to 1 day to continuous.
Bocce Ball Snowshoeing
Tennis, Pickle Ball Cross Country skiing
Golf (could be driving nets) Walking
Softball (batting cage) Dancing
Outdoor activities – games painted on the ground (shuffleboard, giant checker board, etc.), games painted on picnic tables (checkers, chess – pieces in containers attached to tables)
Coffee Clutches – meet for donuts (alternate hosts)
Finger Food snack gatherings
Ice Cream Sundae socials (everyone bring an ingredient)
Group discussions (Pre- announced topics, news paper discussions, etc.)
Charity/Fund Raising (organize a quilt raffle, garage sale – use proceeds for specific needs/wants)
Band jamming (bring your instrument to jam with the group)
Plays – put on a play for the Dolan Community
Puzzle Rooms – puzzles are huge for the majority of the seniors; promotes socialization
Gaming – card, board games, chess, checkers, etc.
Religious service offered ON SITE