All my friends are talking about refresh. “Should we do it?” “I’m alone—should I do it?” “Maybe I’ll wait. It’s a lot of work. Will they help me?”
Refresh is offered at my CCRC after seven years of residence. In August our senior living community had its seventh birthday so the first joiners are now entitled to a free refresh. Refresh means new carpet and a repaint of the unit, as well as some mechanical cleaning. Closets have to be emptied and ornaments removed. I think the work crew will take artwork off the walls, if there is not too much, and some of my friends worry about how their art will be treated. A contractor does some stuff like blow out plumbing pipes. I am not so sure about all of that mechanical stuff, but I’ve seen some impressive machines outside the refresh apartments. What makes refresh a concern for residents is that they must completely move out of their apartment for one to seven days.
I’m not a part of the refresh. Yes, I have lived here for seven years; Bob and I moved here in October 2008. However. I moved from my cottage to a lodge apartment which was newly painted and carpeted in October 2012, so I won’t be eligible for a refresh until 2019. Many of my good friends joined when the community opened so like it or not, at dinner and other times, I find myself listening to all the anxiety and humor that refresh stirs up.
What's involved in a senior living community refresh
Here are the details about the refresh. Residents must move out of their apartment and pack up all their clothes and decorative things and get them out of the way, which usually means out of the apartment. Currently I am storing a friend’s antique violin and a beautiful old grandfather clock. Surprisingly, the clock looks great with my Southwest furnishings. One woman decided not to refresh her second bathroom so she is storing her bric-a-brac in the bathtub.
Management has an apartment available for the refreshers to live in while the work is going on. If cottage residents have finished basements, which are not being refreshed, they can live there if they choose. One couple did that during their refresh and they said it went well. The couple had a small fridge downstairs and kept enough food on hand for breakfast and ate the rest of their meals in the CCRC dining room. The refreshers even cleaned and painted their two-car garage.
Rather than staying in a loaner apartment, I've been told some people schedule travel during their refresh. To me that sounds pretty easy. I also hear talk about staying with family and all the baggage that often goes with that.
The refresh crew does one apartment at a time. There is some jockeying around for the right time for all those eligible. Last night at dinner, the three women I dined with were discussing their plans. Two women were hiring someone to help them, and one was being charged $400 and the other $500. They wondered why the price difference. The other woman who was planning to be out of town during the refresh was worried she might arrive home in the evening to an unmade bed. Of course these are real concerns, but when you’re not involved like me, they sound pretty silly.
I assume as time goes on refresh will become routine. From now on there will always be someone who has reached or passed the seven-year point. Even me.
A rethinking of cleanliness
With all this refresh talk, I’ve been thinking of cleanliness. This is probably the first time in most of our lives that we women have had minimal housekeeping responsibilities. Weekly our apartments are lightly cleaned, as well as our bed linens changed. If one chooses, bed linens and towels are washed in the Lodge laundry and returned the following week. I wash my own linens using the washer/dryer in my apartment and I have them ready for my maid to put on my bed. I have never made my king-sized bed since we purchased it over seven years ago. My Tuesday housekeeper spends an hour and 10 minutes in my two-bedroom/two-bath apartment doing light housekeeping.
I haven’t given any thought to heavy housekeeping until all this refresh talk began. What condition is my bed pad in? I haven’t seen it in three years. What about under my bed. Who cleans there? Once a year a window crew cleans the outside of my windows. I have lightly Windexed the inside but no one has done inside cleaning with gusto. My apartment looks clean and feels clean. Maybe seven years is too long to wait for a ‘deep cleaning.’ I’m going to have to think about this. For a fee I can order as much cleaning as I like and certainly send my bed pad to the Lodge laundry.
Anyway, back to the refresh my friends are facing. One of my widow friends is going to Arizona to visit her 93-year-old sister but is hesitant about buying a round-trip ticket. What if they are not finished when she gets back? She doesn’t feel that she should stay with her sister too long. I have invited her to stay with me. My second bedroom is my office with a pullout sofa bed and she would be welcome.
Another friend was the first refresher and everyone followed her adventure very carefully and critically. She arranged her refresh to be done in August while she was traveling in Ireland. All went well and she returned to a ‘like new’ apartment. All her feedback was positive, so lots of hesitant people signed on.
Just another new adventure in this life called senior living.
This post was written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist who lives in a CCRC outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”