I visited a senior community for their annual housing compliance inspection. A multi story building in the downtown area housing with about a hundred residents. In contrast with other elderly housing, senior communities are more active than one may think. The residents are people 55+ from diverse backgrounds. I Walked into the lobby to the front desk and there sat Clara, the receptionist. A snappy lady in her seventies. She led me to the manager’s office and was offered with the customary coffee cup as a courtesy. Inside of office I could hear the buzz of the lobby, old folks gathering and talking, going on about their business, the beginning into another day in retirement. As I do my walks around the building many people confused me for the water guy, the pest control guy, the post man or the delivery guy from God knows where and make requests or demands about this and that. Some think I am a social worker eager to tell me how rotten and cruel the management is or to inquiry how they can get more benefits, etc. Sometimes seniors wait with anticipation because they got the word out about “the inspector” visiting and they want to know who this fellow is. When they see me and greet me I could hear they whisper between themselves “Oh he is so young” or “Did you see? the inspector is a kid” which I cannot help to smile inside.
Senior communities are typically one bedroom apartments. They are small but with all they needed to live comfortably. Condition depends on their housekeeping. Some looking and smelling good, bright and free of clutter others well not so good with many deficiencies, infestations, distinctive odors, etc. Going in and out of units is entering into a story and leaving without knowing how will end. Each unit is unique in a way, each resident has a story and it unfolds in front of me as the manager opens the door and I enter. I am transported into their lives, their likes, and their way of living. I can tell who’s procured by their family; the picture on the wall, their mementos, their history. I can sense who might be ill, who doesn’t have anyone to look for him or her, who’s alone and who might have give up on life and wait for its end grudged. Yes, I can see and sense all this and in a matter of minutes I am out of their lives into another one and I may never know what it would be of this person again.
One thing always struck me is that seniors who were more active, upbeat and healthy live in apartments that are bright, clean and pleasant. It appears that these individuals live a better life because of their attitudes, the way they lead their lives and how they keep their place of living. It also appears to me that the residents who live in an unkempt place, dark, dirty and cluttered tend to be grumpy, ill prone and lonely. Granted there are exceptions of people living their way as they please with no other regards and they get scot free but I believe it is a matter of choice of how they want to spend their senior days in this earth. Attitude is the message I want to convey. Lead my life with the right attitude and when the time comes to depart this life I will leave with satisfaction knowing that I lived a life of full engagement and also that I will be remembered by others not forgotten.