Mean Big Girls…Does it ever change?
The other day I was privy to a conversation recap, where one senior lady was lamenting to another how she felt “left out” of some of the activities at the Retirement Residence, her current home. Apparently, there was a small female clique that orchestrated many of the social activities, that were more exclusionary than inclusionary, leaving some of the others at the fringe.Apparently “Membership” in this group related largely to the size of the suite chosen (bachelor room; forget it), and the perceived value of their apparel. The cost of this place was astronomical.
Just when I thought this was an isolated event...
In another circumstance, a colleague was lamenting as her widowed mom had to leave the retirement home she was residing in, for a more affordable option. Contact from the gals at the home disappeared faster than free food samples at the big box stores.
Seriously, it gets better...
This behaviour is not exclusive to younger seniors as I have most definitely bumped into the same issues in Long-Term care homes. In one situation, an elder was reduced to tears because of teasing by her lady tablemates, about her walker… I kid you not.
I always thought these exclusion techniques existed in high school, and maybe continued just after graduation, but I guess that is not the case. More and more woman who have been affected by separation, divorce, death, and other socially changing circumstances where couples were the norm, are having trouble reintegrating into a female social circle. This also includes those who spent a great deal of their lives child rearing, or working long hours, at the exclusion of social activities.
As women, instead of building gates into social circles we are creating fences.
What’s up with this social phenomenon, and how will it impact retirement home amenities for those ladies who are financially independent and adhere to this social hierarchy?
As the boomers age, and an upper crust of people with disposable money are rising, many have placed greater priorities than previous generations on fitness, self-care, and fashion. This is certainly going to change the face of those Retirement Residences and keeping up with appearances…
Here’s what I see in the forecast for those upwardly mobile gals with more dollars than days:
- Retirement Homes will need more amenities for fitness: gyms with state of the art equipment, yoga classes, showers, and hot tubs
- In house hair salons will offer full service: nails, waxing, and updated stylists and colourists
- Menu choices that include diet management, for those who are more weight conscious, and don't forget protein bars at the snack counter
- Better, and more variety in transportation to golf courses, wineries etc.
- Flexibility to change the decor in suites, colour palettes, window coverings, flooring etc.
- Larger closet space and storage
Think I'm out there on another planet? Nope, the culture of retirement homes are rapidly changing.
Now just because you are female and can afford these amenities, does not automatically place you in the category of a Mean Girl.But, currently there are great divides between amenities, and costs in Retirement Residences creating a real social dynamic. Those homes for the "well to do" are only going to get fancier, more costly, and more exclusionary.
So how will this impact mean girls?
The social strata will certainly be more pronounced than it is today, and a gap greater than the Grand Canyon will represent the divide between amenities, options, and services. You will most definitely get what you pay for, and if the money runs out, prepare for the consequences of relocating.
Interesting how sometimes folks don’t grow out of the old social norms from youth, or did they just grow into them, relating to economic success and social influencers both good and bad?
I guess there will always be mean girls at any age, regardless of their place of origin. If you or someone you love is feeling abandoned, start looking for social activities that show no discrimination: joining a book club, pursuing adult learning classes, attending community organized events, volunteering etc. These are possible ways to meet new female friends.
Being lonely is not an option.
In the meantime, while touring that prospective retirement home, try a trial stay, without commitment, to see if these are the folks you wish to be your new neighbours. The investment may be worth it in the long-term.
As for the mean girls, alas I do believe they will always exist, but hopefully the membership will become so exclusive, no one will want to join anymore.
Author of quote unknown