In 2012, Rita and Ken Lossett packed up their home in Pasadena and moved into residential living at Westminster Gardens, one of the HumanGood retirement communities located in Duarte, California. Rita said she was looking for an environment that was peaceful and that would allow her to remain in one location—even if her health needs changed.
“My husband is nine years older, and I wanted to be in a place where there would be services available for health care, exercise and well-being,” says Rita. “There are patios everywhere, a swimming pool, tennis court—and if I don’t feel like cooking, we can go to the dining center.”
Rita also maintains an active lifestyle outside the community, working part time as a teacher, docent and lecturer at the Los Angeles Zoo.
If you’re considering a move into a CCRC retirement community or another senior living option, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of the lifestyle and when it might be ideal to make the transition. Residential living is a great place to engage in the world around you, make new friends and focus on the activities you love. With added security, complimentary home maintenance and access to care should you need it in the future, it’s a great option for those who are ready to focus on their passions.
Why is a residential senior living community better than staying in my home?
Residential living (sometimes referred to as independent living) gives older adults a place where they can go about their day as they please or take advantage of the community’s activities. Think of it as a close-knit community with a built-in network of neighbors and friends. Residential living communities also offer added conveniences like housekeeping, transportation services, dining and access to wellness programs and fitness centers with trainers.
“Often when seniors remain in their private homes, they don’t get out as much to visit their friends,” says Pat Guerrero, resident services coordinator at White Sands La Jolla, a HumanGood senior living community in La Jolla, California. “Sometimes it’s because they don’t want to drive at night, or maybe they’re not motivated to go to their bridge club because they’re not feeling 100 percent.”
Guerrero says seniors often lead longer and happier lives when they’re in a community. “You’re being fed emotionally as well as physically,” she says.
Some communities offer travel programs where residents can go on day trips or extended vacations together. Residents at HumanGood communities have traveled everywhere from California’s Wine Country to farther-flung locales like New England, Ireland, Tahiti and Bora Bora. Guerrero says she leads her community on 10–12 trips each month.
“We offer many nearby activities like trips to the opera or the theater so no one has to drive on their own,” Guerrero says. “But we also take longer trips. I had two residents who went hiking in Utah today.”
When is the right time to move?
To move into a residential senior living community, you must be physically independent (able to get around without assistance). You also must be able to manage your own medications and go about your day without supervision.
In other words, the time to take advantage of everything independent living has to offer is when you’re healthy and able to enjoy it. Rita says one of the biggest mistakes people make is moving to a community after health issues have become overwhelming.
“That’s not to say that you can’t participate in senior living activities as you move into higher levels of care, but obviously you’ll be more restricted,” she says.
The other advantage of moving into a senior living community at the residential level is that you’ll be part of a family of neighbors and staff who will be there for you if and when a health need arises.
“We have many residents who have moved up through the various levels of care, and by the time they need 24-hour skilled nursing, they already have a whole group of friends who are able to visit and support them,” Guerrero says. “It’s wonderful to have family, but family cannot always be there when you need them. But here, you have your community family.”