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••• The International Writers Magazine - 23 Years on-line - Modern Living

Urban Cities and Seniors: Why Retirement Homes Aren't the Only Option
• Indiana Lee
Choose Life in the City as you get older

urban living
Photo by H. Emre: Pexels

Retirement communities can be great options for seniors, but they’re not the only option.

In our society, it has become commonplace to put our elderly in elder care homes and facilities once they reach a certain age and we can no longer care for them ourselves. Though there are some amazing facilities out there that go above and beyond to make sure our loved ones are in good hands and have all the amenities they could ever need, these places can get quite expensive.

Not everyone has the money to pay for top-quality senior care, and even if they do, a retirement home might not be the best option. Some seniors don’t even have a family that can help them pay for a retirement home, and many of them would prefer to continue living on their own.

So what is the alternative?

Urban cities. In many ways, Urban Citiess And many municipalities and local governments are even planning to make their cities more age-friendly to benefit the well-being of older populations. 

Disadvantages of Retirement Homes

If someone is elderly and genuinely needs professionally supervised care, it’s understandable that a retirement or nursing home might be the best option. There is nothing wrong with choosing to live in one of these senior care homes or placing a loved one in one if you cannot give them the professional care they need.

However, if a retirement home is not entirely necessary, there are some disadvantages to consider that can help you see why an alternative like urban city living might be a better option:

  1. High cost: Almost any kind of senior living is expensive. Nursing homes, retirement homes, assisted living, etc. — none of these places are considered very affordable.
  2. Isolation: Living in a retirement home can feel isolating, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Not only do these places often cut seniors off from the outside world, but they can also feel less comforting than living in a house or apartment. Furthermore, switching to a retirement home is a big change, and not all of them are nice, nor do they all have a good variety of amenities. It can be very depressing for some seniors to go from having their own home to living in an elderly care home.
  3. Loss of freedom: Some retirement homes and nursing homes have strict policies, such as hours when you must stay in your room, strict eating times, and even limitations on when you can receive visitors. As such, it can result in a loss of freedom and independence that can wear down on a person’s mental and even physical well-being.

Luckily, there are alternatives.

Urban Cities as an Alternative to Retirement Homes

Though it has taken some time, many countries and governments are starting to recognize the need for cities to take better care of their aging populations. Our society tends to dismiss people as they get older, but just because you reach a certain age does not mean your life is over, nor does it mean that you are less deserving of having your needs met.

As such, many are starting to realize the benefits of urban cities as an alternative to retirement homes. Cities such as London and Tokyo, for example, while great for younger generations, have a lot to offer older adults. They do, in fact, have high elderly populations.

So, what exactly are the benefits of urban city living versus retirement home living?

Public Transportation

Many people do not like driving as they get older, and some seniors are even required to stop driving as it becomes harder for them to safely operate a vehicle on their own. If they live in an urban, well-developed area, however, this isn’t an issue thanks to public transportation.

Many cities are significantly improving their public transport options, which means seniors can more easily get around if they live alone or without having to rely on family. This makes it easier for them to still get out and live their life without being confined.


Even if transportation is not available, urban cities are much more walkable. Meaning seniors can simply walk to many of the things they need, such as grocery stores, the doctor, and other retail businesses.

There are lots of cities all around the world where seniors enjoy the freedom and independence of being able to easily walk around and access just about anything they might need. Valletta, a charming city in the Mediterranean, is a prime example of a very walkable city and has a lot to offer older populations. 

More Housing Options

While living in a well-developed urban city can be expensive, it is often not nearly as costly as living in a retirement home. High-quality retirement communities can cost thousands and thousands of dollars, whereas living in a city with just as many great amenities can cost a fraction of that price. And cities also offer a wider variety of housing options to suit various budgets and needs, such as apartments, condos, townhomes, and even regular houses.

Easier Access to Healthier Food

A major issue for older adults is living in a food desert where they don’t have easy access to healthy foods. Many suburban areas, for example, do not have markets or stores with a wide selection of healthy foods. Unfortunately, living in a food desert can result in nutrient deficiencies and even mental health issues, which are already concerns for aging adults.

Urban cities, however, are well known for having a wider variety of healthy food options. There are often many grocery stores, specialty health food stores, and even farmer’s markets that provide seniors with access to a bigger selection of nutritious foods to keep them healthy and strong.

Encourages Physical Activity

Our energy levels tend to go down as we age. While this is normal, significant drops in energy can be a result of a lack of movement and physical activity. And it’s common for people to be less active as they get older.

But in the city, there are lots of activities to do and sights to see that can help keep seniors active and engaged. Not only do urban cities encourage more walking, but there is also access to a plethora of health and wellness businesses and fitness studios.

Yoga studios, for example, are very common in urban areas, and yoga is very beneficial for older adults as it helps keep their muscles strong and improves mobility. 

More Connected and Social

Not only do urban cities keep the body physically active, but they also keep the mind active and engaged, which can also help boost energy and mood levels. Living in a retirement home can feel isolating and can even restrict social interactions, but living in a city means seniors have more freedom to get out and stay connected with friends and family.

They also will have more social interactions on a daily basis just by getting out and walking around the city. This is important as it keeps the mind active, which keeps cognitive functions like memory strong. It also helps improve mental health and overall well-being.

Final Thoughts

While urban cities are not for everyone, they should not be dismissed as a potential alternative to retirement home living. Urban city development has come a long way, and in many ways, some of these cities can offer more amenities than a high-end retirement home can. And not only does urban city living come with lots of amenities, but it also helps seniors stay active and social, which can greatly improve their quality of life and happiness in the long run.

 Indiana Lee © Indiana Lee 10.03.22
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