Joan’s Journey: ‘Comfort Zones’ Important for Successful Senior Living

Welcome, Joan’s Journeyers. In our last two blogs (read them here and here), we took an up-front and personal look at illness, dying and death at senior living. Prospective residents need to consciously explore their feelings in order to know their comfort zones. The bottom line for families is to discuss this topic among themselves, and with marketers and administrators of senior living communities.Comfort Zones are Vital in Senior Living

Along my search for senior living, I walked down a long hallway and a quite elderly woman in a wheelchair, pushed by an aide, was heading in my direction. The woman’s face was deformed as though she had a stroke. I felt pained as I glanced at her. To my great surprise, she smiled a big, beautiful smile—as she looked directly at me. She then said as she passed, “Your shirt is such a lovely shade of violet. It goes beautifully with your hair.”

Instantly, this bright, observant woman no longer looked deformed. Her kind eyes and thoughtful comment touched my heart. This woman, despite the adversities she faces, reached out to me, a stranger in her residence, to make me feel comfortable. And she succeeded.

I chose to live in a senior community that does not differentiate by function or medical condition. All financially qualified seniors who meet the admissions criteria are welcome. Fortunately for me, I worked for 11 years in a children’s hospital and am comfortable around walkers, wheel chairs, oxygen tanks and caregivers. For others, this type of community may be beyond their comfort zones.

Comfort zones vary among individuals. Categories of senior communities range from:

  1. Completely independent folks at 55+years;
  2. Physically challenged individuals;
  3. Mentally and\or cognitively challenged individuals; and
  4. Those in need of hospice care.

Some communities separate these functions, while others combine conditions. The key to successful senior living is to know residence categories before a decision is made, and know where one’s comfort zones lie.

In the next Joan’s Journey, we move from inside the senior residence to senior living as part of its neighborhood, city, state and country. We explore the two-way street of visitors who come to senior communities and external community participation.

Thanks to the many Journeyers who posted comments discussing their experiences and thoughts regarding illness, dying and death in senior communities. In the Comments Box below, and I invite you to continue to share your experiences. Until our next  blog in mid-November,, enjoy the journey day-by-day.

Joan London, a former Houston Chronicle correspondent and noted magazine writer/editor, specializes in freelance writing/editing of issues relating to seniors. London moved to a senior community in Southern California, where she has enhanced her quality of life and is close to her children and grandchildren. Read about her entire journey here.

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