‘Journey Noir: Are you ready for the retirement village?’

Jul 24, 2021
Julie is considering retirement village living in her next stage. Source: Getty Images

We are all on a journey, as our days flow by. I realise my journey has arrived at ageing. I have started browsing advertisements for retirement villages. If I need to relocate, as a single woman in my 60s, do I choose to lease a unit in suburbia, or in a retirement village?

My journey ponders on the benefits of a retirement village for little old me. Maybe such units are overpriced, so I compare them to an ordinary unit. Maybe ongoing, considering health, I shall need a residence where there is a nursing home facility attached.

Basically, a retirement village can offer any golden oldie a range of accommodation choices, services, facilities, and lifestyle features. Most have 24-hour emergency assistance, some contain leisure centres such as a swimming pool or a golf course. In a retirement village unit, retirees can maintain their independent lifestyle, but there are expenditures and fees.

I pause, this reminds me of my late-mum’s journey noir in a retirement village. She went there as a younger widow, and never quite fitted in with her retirement community. Mum liked reading books while drinking coffee. Her retirement village maintained an activities program with a director. This lass looked like a young teenager, in culottes. She was so enthusiastic, bouncing around the greys, being so gung-ho about ‘Let’s join in’.

This lively young lady threatened to have my mother assessed for geriatric depression if she did not participate and socialise. Hence, mum went on bus trips, did courses, and attended happy hour barbecues in Melbourne’s drizzle. Sometimes I was her plus one. Her co-residents, all needing an audiologist, swapped, ‘Good for the garden!’ repartee.

Mother plastered a rictus grin on her face every time. Her muttered comments about the ghetto of old people were quite rude. Silence was my best option, I quickly drove off home. Yes, journey noir of ageing has appeared. I keep browsing, wondering if I shall ever be ready for this.

Mum enrolled in courses in her retirement village. Being very artistic, she quickly became interested in calligraphy. Beautiful. But her lecturer had a stroke, and ended up a frail lady in an electric wheelchair in the nursing home section. The activities lass asked Mum to take over, but being a non-participating type of old gal, Mother refused. That was the end of the retirement village calligraphy. Mum closed her front door and opened her library book, quite content.

In Mum’s retirement village, the main drag through the two-bedroom look-alike units was titled Grieves Drive. Apt, very apt. Any afternoon, an ambulance might venture along Grieves Drive, curtains twitched. Medical emergency. Then this closely followed by the slow hearse, as the worst case scenario. A journey noir, as the hearse took another grey away.

The remaining greys felt the cold hand of the Grim Reaper, waiting. They turned away, asking, “Any more tea in the pot?”

They read of the bereavement in the weekly village newsletter, some might have attended the funeral.

The retirement village unit got new curtains, the carpets were steam-cleaned, and soon new neighbours prepared to step up to the plate for their journey noir of ageing.

In my journey of aging, I decide to do nothing today. This is my journey, to seek a silver lining, and carpe diem.

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