Status message

We’re Hiring! Click here to see available positions.

Retirement Communities: Fact vs. Fiction

By Michele Harris
June 19, 2023
People playing bocce

As publisher of the Positive Aging Sourcebook, Steve Gurney is a seasoned expert on senior living, but one day, he realized something was missing--first-hand knowledge.

"I thought, 'How ridiculous is it that I've never experienced senior living as a resident does?'" says Gurney. "It's like working in a restaurant and never eating the food."

So a few years ago, at the age of 43, Gurney moved to senior living. In fact, he moved to five different senior communities to get a fuller sense of what it was like.

"I did the best I could to replicate the exact same experience that a new resident would encounter when moving into senior living," he says. "This helped me understand the experience people have when moving to senior living, and it really did dispel a lot of myths for me. I can say that, in all sincerity, these are the best neighborhoods I've ever lived in."


Here are three of the most common myths about senior living:

1. I can't afford it.

2. I'm not ready for senior living because I'm in good health.

3. I don't want to give up my current circle of friends or stop participating in the clubs and activities I'm involved with.

These myths are repeated so often that they have become entrenched. But the truth is, moving to senior living is a lot easier, more affordable, and more fun than many people realize!

How can I afford it?

"Affordability is always the number one question," says Kevin Heffner, president and CEO of LifeSpan Network, which represents nearly 300 senior care providers in Maryland and Washington, D.C. "People have the impression that the entry fee is going to be out of range for what a middle-class person can afford, but it's really not."

Most senior living communities can show you how the costs compare to maintaining a house, and people are often surprised to find them to be equivalent or even lower.

What if I outlive my savings?

"Senior living communities have counselors who know how to look at your financial picture," says Heffner. "And they know how to put strategies in place, so you know how to preserve your wealth."

I'm too healthy

"When you are relatively healthy, that's the time to move," notes Heffner. "Moving when your health is compromised or when you are not in good physical or mental shape can be overwhelming."

In fact, moving to senior living can actually enhance your health.

"Numerous studies show that longevity is increased when you are part of a dynamic community," he explains. "So, this data suggests that by moving to a retirement community, you're probably going to stay healthier for longer."

Heffner adds that when he speaks with people who have moved to senior living, they always tell him they wish they had done so sooner.

I'm not ready to give up my current lifestyle

"When I lived in these communities, I saw so many people who maintained their connections from before they moved," says Gurney. "Their church, their clubs, their volunteer time, and even in some cases, their job, because you don't have to retire to move to a retirement community."

Heffner agrees. "Just because you move to senior living doesn't mean you can't pursue the same connections and activities you always have. It's just that now, you live in a community that has a vibrancy all on its own! You may choose to join a community activity, or you may not. You get to choose how you spend your time and whom you spend it with!"

"One thing I never realized before living in a senior community is how much the residents care for each other. If you need something, your neighbors are there to help," adds Gurney. He even observed how easily residents make new connections as neighbors.

"I live in a beautiful neighborhood, in a nice single-family house. The American dream, right? But when I came back home after living in a senior community, even though I was with my family, I felt somewhat lonely and isolated because, in the communities, there were so many more meaningful relationships."

What's holding you back?

Don't let misconceptions about senior living hold you back from taking advantage of all the benefits you could be enjoying. Make the move to make the most of your retirement!

To learn more about the ways choosing an Erickson Senior Living community can help you achieve the vibrant retirement you always dreamed of, request a free brochure or a tour to see apartment homes, amenities, and more.