What I Learned Co-Managing a Retirement Community

In the very early stages of adulthood, I co-managed an independent-living retirement facility. It was like living and working in Melrose Place (if you exchanged the young, beautiful actors with decrepit senior citizens that shit themselves and complain that either the lobby is too cold or the portions at dinner are too large). And this wasn’t an 8-hour-a-day gig, either. As co-manager, I had my own one-bedroom apartment within the three-story, 125-apartment facility, right next door to a short, curmudgeonly woman who complained my pictures were hung too high on my wall. But this chapter of my life wasn’t wasted as these elderly patrons of this magical place taught me a few things, whether I wanted to learn them or not.  For example:

1. You Never Outgrow Sex

Let me get this one out of the way first. It’s unsettling, but it’s true. Old people like to “do it.” Even your grandparents. In the Viagra era, seniors are porking as if they’re vacationing at a Hedonism II resort. I watched many old women scurry out of their neighbor’s apartment behind their walkers, hair disheveled, clothes frumpy, and their panties dangling from their hand. Thankfully, none of the debauchery during my short tenure resulted in an embarrassing call for an ambulance.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not judging because chances are pretty high that if I live that long, I’ll be one of those wrinkled whores.

Moments later, Hazel put on the Missy Elliot, and the orgy got started.
Moments later, Hazel put on the Missy Elliot, and the orgy got started.


2. You Can’t Always Rely on Your Looks

If you don’t have any interesting skills, may I suggest you develop one now. Cute, hot, and/or sexy may get you the attention you want now, but time is a nasty, abusive bitch. Through observation, I learned that the happier elders are the ones that never had looks to begin with (or never relied on them). These cheerful seniors loved to show off how they could still press their hands against the floor without bending their knees or made excitable noises when pushed in a wheelchair. The former narcissists, however, stayed in their apartment, moping about life in the past and what they could never get back.  And there is no amount of cosmetic surgery that will help you. Think on that, pretty boys.

"I used to model for International Male and Undergear."
“I used to model for International Male and Undergear.”


3. If You Have Nothing Better to Do, You Will Complain. Always.

One of my job responsibilities was to keep the old folks busy. I assumed the purpose of this duty was to exercise their failing minds and bodies, but when I experienced a lull in activity, I learned its honest purpose: to shut them the Hell up. When Gray Hairs didn’t have anything to distract them from thinking about dying or why their family never visited, they griped about the most innocuous shit. “The chairs in the parlor aren’t in the right spot.” “Someone left a coffee cup on the table in the dining room.” “There’s a place on the carpet in the west corridor of the third floor that is swept in a different direction.” “So-and-so shouldn’t be dressed like that in the lobby.” “It’s too cold.” “It’s too hot.” This is why I can no longer work in the service industry: they have already exhausted my lifetime supply of “be nice” vouchers.


4. You Can Lose Your Will to Live

I could always tell which new residents would die shortly after moving in. These types were never enthusiastic about moving to a retirement community in the first place. They were forced into the decision by their children. Once settled in, they just gave up. Nothing made them happy, nothing inspired them, and nothing motivated them. In a matter of months, they would pass away from natural causes. This occurred too often to be coincidence. I even knew a lady that passed away from natural causes only one week after her husband of fifty years died because she couldn’t live without him. So if you cherish your elderly relative, keep them in a stable environment as long as possible because in a retirement community, you check in, but you never check out.


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20 thoughts on “What I Learned Co-Managing a Retirement Community”

  1. In defense of non-cranky old people:

    The cranky ones are the biggest talkers, and the complainers are the ones who are going to talk the most and bug the most people. The nice ones are more likely to be quiet and melt into the background.

  2. My uncle lives in a home, but despite his walker and oxygen tank, he’s still picking fights and conning the other residents. He only hits on the nurses because he likes them younger than himself, so in his case, sixty is never the new sexy.

  3. I want to grow old right mow. It sounds like it has a shitload going for it.

  4. Well, let’s see:

    In February I celebrated my 68th birthday.

    A little over a year ago I bought a co-op in a “Mitchell Lama” building (affordable NY City housing for middle-income people). There are people of ALL ages living in this building, from little kids to the cane, walker and scooter set, some of whom look like they would be living in a retirement home if they weren’t in our building.

    I’m still working full-time because I haven’t yet made any real money with my writing and I like to pay the bills and eat real food.

    I play computer games.

    I know that my body is getting older every year, but I don’t care because I’m keeping my mind as young as possible.

    I have my moments, like everyone else, but I try hard not to get grumpy with people. It’s more fun to make them laugh.

    I have some friends who are older than I am and others who are much younger.

    Moving into a retirement home is not something that I look forward to. I hope I never have to do it. If I do, though, I hope I’ll be a nice old lady and not an obnoxious one.

    1. From what I’m reading, you wouldn’t fit in at the retirement community I worked in at all. You’re too cool for them.

  5. Oh, yes – Hotel California. I know a few of those old curmudgeons. Sadly, I think they live with a lot of regret and they think they’re too old to rectify matters. They really do get mean, though, don’t they?

    1. Next time one tries to complain, distract them with a coupon book to a buffet or ask them “so how is your knitting project going?” (you may have no prior knowledge of their knitting project, but I assure you that most of them have one). This will keep them occupied until you are able to head for the hills.

    1. Just don’t lose your will to live! Or is that one of the three? Do you not complain? I can’t believe that you do not complain. Everybody complains. I don’t want to ask about your sex drive. That would be highly inappropriate. Maybe you used to rely on your stunning looks! That’s it, isn’t it?

  6. I once worked as an assistant janitor in a facility that was twenty stories high. When I first met the lead janitor he said “Welcome to the towering Inferno.” Dark humor is everywhere.

    1. It wasn’t a retirement community was it? I would hate to think of that many old people living in one building. What a nightmare!

  7. Great points! I’m going to start developing some skills STAT! Can’t rely on my gorgeous good looks forever!

    And I’d love to chat with the observant senior who noticed: “There’s a place on the carpet in the west corridor of the third floor that is swept in a different direction.” We need to get that person a detective show immediately!

    1. It also made me realize that I can’t always count on the pretty to get me what I want (I’m really going to miss those days).

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