In a recent op-ed for The Los Angeles Times author Barry Goldman wrote that he’d “rather be dead than linger on in an old folk’s home.” It’s a sad thought, but we recognize it’s a thought many people share. Mr. Goldman’s account of how his parents declined while in an “old folk’s home” was heartbreaking. I can’t fault him for feeling disillusioned. But what Mr. Goldman and those who continue to view senior living communities as places where “old folks” go to die don’t understand is that senior living often helps people thrive.
We see many residents come into a Brookdale Senior Living community underweight, lonely and depressed. They simply weren’t getting the care and support they needed at home, because caregiving is hard. We often witness amazing turnarounds, and watch residents regain energy, dignity and a sense of independence. They get the nutritional support they need and make new friendships while their loved ones enjoy a sense of relief that their parents are being taken care of. I saw my own mother benefit from moving into a senior living community. It’s a move that allowed me to become my mother’s daughter again rather than feel like I was being her caregiver. You can read my personal story here.
But don’t just take my word for it. I encourage you to talk with just a few residents who’ve seen dreams come true and continue to live fulfilling lives. Perhaps you could chat with Robert McClintock, a WWII veteran who sang the National Anthem at a Tampa Bay Lighting game just days before his 100th birthday. You might also enjoy getting to know Ann O’Farrell, a writer who draws inspiration from fellow residents. Maybe you’d be reassured that you don’t have to “linger on” in senior living community when you read about Walter White, who at 93 is still a long-distance runner. Or, read the letter we received from the daughter of a new resident who reconnected with a friend she hadn’t seen in decades after moving into a senior living community. We’ve heard countless stories of residents finding love again. In fact, more than 770 Brookdale residents have fallen in love in a community. We highlighted a few of their love stories for Valentine’s Day. These are just a few stories. I’ve heard many, many more. I encourage you to read more of our residents’ stories in our newsbeat section.
I invite anyone who thinks they’d “rather die than move into an old folk’s home” to visit a Brookdale community. Talk to our residents and associates. Spend some time with us and see how you can live a purposeful life surrounded by compassionate people who treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve. I know you’ll choose life.