Continuing to follow my star which led me 90 days ago to a retirement community at a great location in an aging building.
Previously, the “Success is Keeping Your Eyes Open” post cataloged the surprising and frightening experience.
Now, after 90 days here are additional observations. I break them down into observations at 60 days not especially comforting and those at 90 days demonstrating a glimmer, if not a flame, of hope as I/we strive to remain nimble.
If you wish to bypass my continuing rant and cut to the chase where I suggest a possibly brighter future here for our Baby Boomer generation, simply roll your eyes down to item number 12 and continue by reading my 90 Day Observations.
60 Day Observations:
- Many semi-active seniors in their 80s who are mobile and in reasonably good health anecdotally report they are relatively “happy and having a good time” although they describe many others as less coherent and less independent than themselves. Another seemingly-prevalent opinion captured by one resident: “People who come here are old and either crazy or incapable.” and “This place is awful…but you won’t find anything better.”
- Those who are mobility-challenged are less forgiving of shortcomings that include only one of two elevators working for weeks, even months, on end and false fire alarms sounding periodically with sporadic messages to evacuate sounding on random floors. Of greater concern is two announced fire drills wherein the alarms never even sounded and management was unaware of the deficiency before or afterward.
- The latest twist on surprises was a loss of cold water into the units after plumbers worked for days to restore hot water. Not knowing a problem existed, I hopped into the shower and sudsed up! YIKES! At least, you might quip, it is fortunate that I didn’t get scorched to death. The problem was momentarily rectified with loud overnight drilling which, once again, took place without prior notice. Naturally, many reported an inability to sleep that night. Not all of us are hard of hearing.
- Continuing with the water saga: There was the day I awoke to another surprise while arriving in the bathroom for my morning routine: brush, wash, toilet needs. No running water whatsoever! After being directed by maintenance, I found an obscure sign by the fire escape reading “No water 9-5 for the next three days.” Heard drilling outside loud enough to wake the dead…which some of us are not. Where was the text, email or phone message about not having any water today for the next three days?! Gads!
- But, fear not, if you are one of the half-dozen members of the “Happy Hearts, Happy Life Craft Group” the entire campus received a bulletin under “Important Updates” reinforced by a notice posted inside the only working elevator for a 15- story building that “The location of your next meeting has been changed. Apologies.”
- An intrusion that took the cake: Knock on my door at 9 a.m with 4 guys in emergency panic mode. Seems a leak my bathroom caused ceiling to leak into unit below. They needed to come in immediately to identify/fix the issue. Four guys and one hour later a it was determined that a bit of caulking was all that was needed.
- Not one to tolerate the ongoing annoyances, I met with the facility’s executive director and engaged him in a “mano a mano” problem-solving session on communication.
- While I ponder my options as one of the fortunate few who rent month-to-month, my immediate solution is to escape the campus. Am often foiled as I am faced with a parade of plumbers and dry wallers who need access to my unit to do immediate restoration work. The other day I was on my way to a museum tour when there was another of a series of knocks on my door. The guy said he needed to patch the hole in the wall above my kitchen sink immediately. (The hole has been staring me in the face since I arrived several weeks ago.) He came in and said “Lucky I have the right paint. I’ll be right back. Two hours later no sign of him. Chased him down on another floor. His response: “Ha! I got reassigned. Coming right back.”
- Faced yet another encounter with three guys who said their mission was to pull the old pipe protruding from behind my bathroom toilet after which another guy or guys would be by to patch and paint. OK, so I really didn’t need to take the walk I’d planned because who wants to leave an apartment open when a cast of outside vendors has access to the few remaining possessions in your 300-sqare foot studio? Good thing I’ve been brushing up on my Spanish so I could ask the team why my bathroom is flooded with water… and was it “limpia or sucio” (clean or dirty). You don’t want to hear their answer.
- So now I’m wondering if my toilet will continue to work, especially since the food that comes with rent that I thought earlier was delicious is now making me fat and gassy. Have visions of myself flushing the toilet, flooding my bathroom, and wandering around in the dead of night looking for a necessary room.
- Now we have to worry about staff with master keys who are able to access our units without permission. And it seems one staff member not only entered but left with a resident’s valuables. Good thing, being a minimalist I no longer have any possessions worth taking. Actually, I’ve reached the stage where I have to pay someone to take my things away.
- Conclusion after 60 days: This is a scary place with attention being misdirected to “fun experiences” rather than to good communication or operational and safety protocols.
90 Day Observations: Looking for the Brighter Side
- While unannounced intrusions continue, management seems to have taken heed of my strongly delivered request to please call or text ahead of any request to enter. In fact, it is now standard procedure with other residents as well. Success! Hope this lasts.
- Efforts seem to be continuing to improve communication with our emerging, more technologically advanced and vocal Baby Boomer generation which does not look around fire escapes for postings of important updates.
- Am not convinced that management is attending to critical safety issues, specifically regarding fire evacuation, but am comforted to know that we have a residents’ safety committee. I can only hope their vision and hearing are good enough to see things needing attention. Otherwise, at some point governmental inspections should address such obvious shortcomings that management may overlook.
- After three months of servicing a 15-story building with a painfully slow single elevator, the second elevator seems to be working again. Working, yes, but making creaking sounds while the floor sinks and wobbles each time a person enters. It has been difficult to say the least with an abundance of mobility-challenged residents waiting endlessly and squeezing like sardines into just one lift. The stairs are not up to snuff being dingy, dirty and poorly-lit. Fingers crossed the elevators are safe and continue to function.
- Management seems to be responsive to my suggestions to work harder to attract and retain Baby Boomers. In fact, at my request a Baby Boomers Focus Group will be scheduled next month. As I shared with management, it is my hope that this process will facilitate the creation of a livelier, more compatible lifestyle for this/our age group.
- Residents’ Council leadership seems willing and eager to hear my voice. It’s very possible this important advocacy group is overdue for a makeover.
- Bottom line: Patience has never been my strong suit in enduring unnecessary discomfort. I’ll try to give this a whirl for awhile longer realizing the benefits of a month-to-month commitment. However, if I can’t find or develop my tribe here or see what I believe to be essential improvements soon, I am grateful to be in a position to continue to follow my star and move on to a more compatible environment. Could well be that this community is not for me and/or that the entire industry can’t change fast enough to attract our vocal generation. On the other hand, life is full of surprises. Counting on my lucky star to keep me nimble enough to deal with them. More later….