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Why is sheltered accommodation in quiet (dead!) places??? - Carers UK Forum

Why is sheltered accommodation in quiet (dead!) places???

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
Something has struck me quite forcibly now that I am trying to find some suitable sheltered accommodation for my elderly (89) and increasingly frail MIL.

She lives 400 miles away from me, and wants to move closer, which is fine (except that what her flat will fetch 'up north' is NOT what is required to buy similar down here in the expensive SE!!!).

But as I've started to look for some kind of, ideally, sheltered accommodation, in my local area(s), what has struck me is this - yes, these blocks of retirement flats are very nice and comfortable inside, with things like lifts, and adapted bathrooms etc etc, and no gas heating (!) (because of potential explosions!)....BUT, they all seem to be located in quiet, tucked away positions.

This is all very well, and of course it's nice to have gardens and nice scenery around, BUT it does seem to me that there is a basic misunderstanding going on here. Not only is there the possible suspicion that what 'we' (ie, the non-elderly) are trying to do is to 'hide' our old folks, tuck them away out of sight and mind etc etc, but also we are failing to understand and appreciate that actually quite a lot of old people don't actually WANT to be 'tucked away'. If they want peace and quiet they are going to get that when they are in the local graveyards!

What my MIL would love - and I'm sure she isn't alone in this - is to be able to SEE life going on around her, even if she can't actually take part in it very actively any more. Ironically, what she would ideally like would be a nice cosy comfy flat that overlooks the high street! She could sit by the window and look out and see people coming and going and shopping and so on, children and parents and commuters etc etc. Yes, she finds it difficult physically to go shopping now or wander up and down the high street, but watching it is the next best thing.

It also, I firmly believe now, keeps their minds more active. It's the 'vegging' staring at the walls, at the 'peace and quiet of the gardens' that accelerates the mental decay and rot. And yes, whilst I'm sure that occupational therapy and group singing or whatever goes on in homes etc is good for some, it's clear that a lot of older folk don't actually want to be stuck with no one other than other old folk - they like to think they are still, however tenuously, part of the 'real world' outside - even if that just means watching people coming and going along the high street.

I'm sure that's why in Mediterranean cultures, for example, we see so many old people sitting outside cafes, playing backgammon or just watching the world go by. They are not 'tucked away' in peaceful, quiet 'waiting rooms for the graveyard'..... (of course, it's lovely and warm in those countries, which makes a huge difference!)

Anyway, just my thoughts. Don't know if others think similar or not.

And now, back to trying to find her somewhere that replicates the flat she's in, but closer than a six hour car journey (which I've just done, twice! - 800 miles in 24 hours, phew!)

Don't know where you are in the South East Jenny, but here in my area (Sutton) we have lots of blocks of retirement apartments that are only a very short walk from the main High Street and right on main bus routes to places like Epsom, Croydon and Kingston. Epsom and Kingston are also well served with accessible developments.

Prices range from £90,000 to around £200,000 for a one or two bedroomed apartment with communal gardens and communal social areas. I only know because when I was looking for a new flat last year I did think about a retirement apartment (I'm 66 by the way) and did view a couple.

We also have a fair number of residential/nursing homes that are located in the centre of things, although not necessarily on the High Street.
I wonder if its a question of the price of the land?
Is your area very expensive, so that the buildings are placed in areas which are cheaper to keep the cost down? The flip side of this is that maybe they are out of the way in areas that people wouldnt normally choose to live.
Interesting thoughts jenny.

personally, I don't think its "societies" way of hiding the elderly away.

More a practical issue. The builders and management companies buy the cheapest land available, hopefully a site with good road access for the build.Especially if crane needed for the build etc.

profit orientated. Rather than a deliberate plot.

Hope you find somewhere suitable for her and that the move goes smoothly.
Hear hear Jenny. My husband and I have said this for years!
I'm sorry you're having a problem finding a suitable sheltered housing complex foy your MIL Jenny. I've been very lucky in that I live in such a complex and in truth couldn't be anywhere better. It's sheltered housing built on two levels and although we have a communal central garden area to sit in, yet all our flats face roadside. From mine I see children going to school, people going to local shops, people going to the local pub, just across road from me. Flats on the other sides have similar outlooks. I do hope you are able to find something suitable. I feel I have the best of both worlds, the privacy of my own flat when I want, and also being able to take part in whatever social activity is happening in our common room, which is most afternoons. We make a point of making our social groups open to the community in this area so interact and learn what's happening in the sourounding area. Good luck in finding somewhere Jenny. Maureen
Yes, it probbaly does boil down to cost, alas.(And yes, costs are venomously high in my part of the world, near the M40)

But it isn't just a question of 'accessibility' - yes, fine when we are 'young old' and still mobile etc, to be 'near' shops and bus stops etc, but my point is that when we are 'old old' and simply can't get about much, or at all, on our own, we want to WATCH life going on. That's why I say that a flat overlooking the high street - or anywhere, really, where there is a lot of 'coming and going' by people, is what is needed.

My MIL also likes watching birds etc, so a bird feeder is a great asset out side the window. It's having things 'going on' rather than just being 'dead' that is so vital I believe.

Maybe retirement flats that overlook a school playground would be a good idea!

I know what my MIL would love best would be a flat overlooking a busy esplanade or promenade by a beach - she could people watch and see the sea as well, and even sunset too with luck. Ah well, dream on, alas...
Maureen, sounds like you've definitely got the best of both worlds. Well done! Image Jenny
Dad`s sheltered housing complex looks like lego houses shaken up and dropped in threes from a great height. Narrow path access, steps to the garden area and carpark and lots of grass in between which should have been level access car parking. The view is Tesco. Build in the 1960`s and no thought went into it at all. The houses further up the hill have even steeper steps to gain access!

Luckily I am friendly with the farmer next door and park on his access road and walk to dad on level ground.xx
I'm with you here: I visit a lot of these places for my work.
My own very frail parents live in an owner occupied house at the end of a cul-de sac with very little streetlife, but they do look out at the back to a school with large grounds and some lovely big trees , plus the kids playing. Town centres can be bleak, noisy places with vandalism and arguments outside pubs, pretty country villages are dead or full of commuters, and seaside towns are mostly Gods Waiting rooms, with abandoned promenades and fierce storms.
I'm afraid there is no 'ideal' out there, society is changing as the motor car, huge shopping centres, fast food and vast Wimpey housing Estates turn Britain into a very alien planet for the old.