Monday, 3 December 2018

The Retirement Cruiser

As our regulars know, I often write about different and innovative retirement living options. I'm always interested in what's current and where things seem to be going when it comes to seniors housing. The other day I read about a man who has taken something that until now, I considered a 'chain email' concept, and turned it into his reality. I'm certain many of our readers have received that email that talks about how its cheaper to live on a cruise ship than in a retirement home .... it shows up in my inbox at least once a year .... well, there is a fellow who decided to make a cruise ship home more than a dozen years ago. He is mentally alert, fairly healthy, in his 90's, widowed and almost fully blind. He has a home in Florida which he uses to store his belongings but rarely goes there. He spends his days cruising around and staying on the ship with staff who know him well and cater to all of his needs. The article didn't indicate the cost involved or how the cruise company agreed to this arrangement (or if there is a 'out-clause' if his needs exceed what they are able to do) but it did get me thinking about the viability of such an arrangement.
Clearly, it only works because he is independent. Like most retirement homes, he gets his meals, housekeeping services and entertainment. He mostly interacts with staff who attend to him as required. But beyond them, he has no lasting relationships. His kids visit when he docks in their city's port but he doesn't have an opportunity to socialize with people of his age and stage. If he gets too sick to be looked after by the crew, he will have to be relocated. I do wonder how that scenario would play out.
As someone who loves cruising, I understand the desire to vacation on a cruise ship. However, after a week on board, maximum 10 days, I am anxious for land, and home. I cannot understand, wanting to retire full-time on a boat, cut off from everyone but the crew. From a practical perspective, or maybe its a social work perspective, I see red flags everywhere in a situation like this and I remain convinced that a retirement home is a far better setting for someone in their 90's who needs a bit of assistance. And as a family member, I would not want an elderly loved one, at sea for years. I wonder what led him to make this choice and why he considers it preferable to living in a retirement setting with the potential for more amenities and care and in close proximity to his friends and family. I suspect there is more to this story than the brief interview I read and am left with more questions than answers to this retirement option.
As our readers know, there are many different housing opportunities for seniors  - and many new and innovative ones coming soon - but I hope living on a cruise ship is one that will not become popular anytime soon. I think, in retirement, one needs to consider several things when making decisions around relocation including proximity to health care and hospitals, family and friends and amenities and care required, now and in the future. And I know that there are many retirement settings that can provide a much better quality of life than living on a ship. In fact, there are many people I have talked to who have described a retirement home as a 'cruise ship on land'.
So, if you are an avid cruiser and are considering this option when you get that chain email in your inbox, before really considering it, check out a retirement home; go for a visit, try a meal, stay for a week and see if you like it. Consider your proximity to family and friends, the care you will get now and what you can get in the future if your needs change. I hope you will look at the many options out there in your community and beyond before making a cruise ship your permanent retirement destination..........

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