Dear Donna:

I am trying to persuade my 80-year old mother who lives alone in Traverse City, Michigan to move to an independent living community. We live almost 6 hours away from her and worry about her safety in the cold and snowy northern Michigan winters. She is very active and involved in her community. She even spends 4 or 5 hours a week volunteering. My mother somehow has the idea the senior living is just “a bunch of old people playing bingo.” What can I do to help her get a true picture of independent living?

Tammy in Toledo


Dear Tammy:

The out-of-date stereotypes of “homes” are still alive in the minds of many older adults. While we do play Bingo, independent living communities have so much more to offer. Here are a couple of suggestions that might help:

  • You could start by talking with her about two of the main reasons older adults choose to move to independent living: to be free of the maintenance and upkeep of a home and for the life enrichment and socialization that happens every day. Most residents of an independent living community are a lot like your mother!
  • Have a few of your local senior living communities mail you their monthly activity calendar. You could share those with your mother so she could see the wide range of programs that are offered. For example, at The Village at Bay Ridge in Traverse City life enrichment programs include book clubs, trips to the casino, quilting and theater outings. If she finds an activity that sounds interesting, most communities would happily invite her to join them.
  • Visit a few communities without your mother along. You probably know her likes and dislikes well enough to determine if it might be a good fit. Then try to start with just having her visit for lunch and/or a tour. Agree ahead of time that she will be under no obligation to go again if she doesn’t like it.

I think once your mother can see for herself how active independent living residents really are, you will have a better chance at convincing her to make a move.

Good luck, Tammy!


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