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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Weathering the Winter in the City

I’ve been listening with interest to the recent radio ads running for the “Weather the Winter” marketing initiative at Friendship Village in Schaumburg. The Village is described on its website as:

“…a Continuing Care Retirement Community near Chicago, IL for adults aged 62 and older offering a range of services and amenities in a vibrant community of neighbors and friends. Our accommodations include independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory support for Alzheimer’s and dementia care, so it’s no surprise that we’re Chicagoland’s leading retirement community.”

In one of the ads, two friends are talking on the phone. One lives at the Village and enthusiastically invites her friend to come visit. The friend, though, is stranded in her home, alone, needing to shovel her sidewalk after a blizzard. She then describes how she’ll be spending her non-shoveling time: alone, with “just me and the TV.”

The image that comes into my head about the sad woman is that she lives alone in a house in the suburbs, probably not far from Schaumburg; is single, divorced, or widowed; has no children or grandchildren, nor nearby neighbors to help or spend time with her; and is dependent on a car to get around, as there is likely no good public transportation available out where she lives.

And so the most obvious response to this dilemma—older woman alone shoveling snow then cuddling up to a TV by herself—is to come “Weather the Winter” in a retirement community that she just may want to end up living in beyond the Winter.

Here’s how the FV website describes what awaits her during her 90-day stay:

Warm up to
Friendship Village!

Welcome to Weather the Winter, the easiest way to get familiar with Friendship Village. It’s a no-obligation, low-cost 90-day trial. Simply fill out the form and we’ll do the rest. A sales counselor will contact you to set up an appointment. All you have to do is pack a bag and relax in a beautifully furnished apartment home.

One simple monthly service fee covers everything:

Access to five dining venues, the fitness and aquatic center, scheduled transportation, housekeeping and more.

All utilities except telephone and flexible meal plan included.

Security and safety from the winter elements is guaranteed.

Sign up for Weather the Winter between now and March 31st and change the way your winter looks.

Now while perhaps a good marketing strategy, this initiative highlights what “aging in place” in the suburbs may look like for a sizeable portion of my fellow agers.

And it’s a pretty bleak picture, especially from the vantage point of an older, also single, city dweller, surrounded as I am by a multitude of communities to be a part of—libraries, cultural institutions, parks and preserves, circles of friends, music venues, etc., etc.—that ease the stress of Chicago’s fierce winters and are often a train or bus ride or short walk away.

Oh, and the best part is that these communities are rich in diversity and difference: Not everyone in them looks just like me, which only adds to the pleasure of belonging to them.

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