Deciding Your Accomodation Life In Retirement

What a subject this has become. In the past there were fewer challenges to consider than what we find today.

To start with most of us love our home and what that means to us. Lying in a hospital bed you may even recall the desperation almost, in wanting to go home. What made it bearable was knowing that the day would come when you would go home. That certainty gives hope and that hope aids the recovery process.

Being at home, you are master or mistress of all you survey, surrounded by an environment that you love.

So, either due to financial, security or frailty issues you decide to sell up and move to a retirement village or old age home. All the marketing literature is so rosy and convincing and on the face of it fabulous.

Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware. There have reportedly been many, many matters in the past years which have given rise to being food for thought. You see, even the most circumspect amongst us can slip up and not read all the small print, or if we do, don’t believe it will be an issue. Surely not, we say to ourselves.

Let me share a case of someone who I knew very well. This frail, elderly lady was living on her own. The family home was empty as her husband had passed away and her children had flown the nest. Crime was on the increase and the upkeep on such an establishment was impossible to maintain. Her husband’s pension had been cut in half when he passed.

The old lady did not want to live with her children so she opted to go to an old age home which had a frail care and independent living cottages and flats. Run by a religious order of the same denomination it was comforting, and possibly the reason why some aspects of the agreement were not given more attention.

The first few years were awesome although costs were escalating higher than the published rate of inflation. Then the unexpected (but for most of us inevitable) happened. The old lady experienced health problems and on release from hospital spent a time in the frail care at the village.

As it turned out it was not a great experience, rough handling and jewellery being stolen. Worse than that, a little clause in the agreement – the one that was overlooked, was invoked. She was not allowed back into her cottage as the management in their sole discretion, deemed she was not able to look after herself. She either had to remain in frail care at double the cost or leave the establishment. She was not allowed back in to the cottage with her own private care givers at half the cost. Management was completely unapproachable. Fortunately, her family took her out and she went to live with her daughter in Cape Town.

More recently with Covid 19 there have been reported cases (to me) at other establishments where the inmates (tenants now almost akin to prisoners) were severely restricted in their movements. No visitors were permitted for months under the cloak of the pandemic. Some were not allowed day shift caregivers and others not at all. Mayhem rained. Somehow, ironically, the in-house frail cares in any event became infected with Covid 19.

However, it must be noted that not every establishment was so draconian as there are some jolly reasonable ones. Nevertheless, it is worth investigating this type of scenario very carefully when considering buying into any scheme.

It must be pointed out that there are equally as many horror stories of home care so be sure that you are comfortable with who you use.

If it is financially and practically viable (in most cases it is) it is often much better (my personal opinion) to stay in your own home or cottage with independence and care from properly trained staff. No one is going to rock your boat.

Frail cares can be quite sterile and bleak compared to one’s own home – especially if one is compos mentis.

The best thing to do is investigate carefully and actually visit these places for an extended period simply asking yourself –

  • could I be happy here, day in and day out for the rest of my life?
  • Will the management now and in the future, restrict my lifestyle solely at their discretion?


“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”

Larry King


With that in mind you are welcome to drop me a line with your thoughts and experiences