Many images may come to mind when I say the word “flexibility”. Perhaps you envision a yoga class which seem to be quite popular these days. Or perhaps it brings to mind someone you know that really “goes with the flow” and is flexible when faced with an obstacle in life. Maybe you think of a double-jointed friend or a contortionist you may have seen at the circus as a child. All of these are great examples of flexibility but that is not the type of flexibility I had in mind for todays discussion. Today I’d like to talk about the flexibility that you deserve as a senior citizen. If you are a senior and you are considering a move to senior living community, you will encounter all types of options. Unfortunately, most senior communities out there do not offer you the kind of flexibility that you deserve. Let us take a look at two fictitious ladies; Mary and Sarah, each of them have already moved into an independent living apartment. One community provides the flexibility you may be looking for while, the other, not so much. Mary is living at The Cottages, a senior living community offering market rate, independent living apartments. She was very impressed by the community from the first time she toured. One of the things that attracted Mary to The Cottages was the fact that she received three meals each day as part of her monthly rate. She realized that the kitchen facilities in her apartment were limited but she didn’t anticipate needing to cook if she received all her meals in the community dining room. As it turns out, Mary misses her full kitchen and the ability to make herself a snack or a meal. She did not anticipate that the schedule for meals would be so inflexible. Mary has missed her salad at dinner on several occasions as she arrived at dinner a few minutes late. She was also forced to pay for several meals that she did not eat due to eating out with family. Mary misses the flexibility she had living in her own home. She also worries that she may have to move again if her financial resources run out or if she eventually needs assisted living. Sarah is also living in an independent living apartment in a senior community. She almost moved into The Cottages. The three meals each day were very appealing but Sarah loves to cook for herself on occasion and bake cookies for her grandchildren. Sarah is glad she decided to move into The Park Danforth where her apartment comes with full-size kitchen appliances. Also, the dining experience at The Park Danforth is much more like a restaurant and less like a wedding reception. She can arrive for dinner anytime between 4- 6pm and receive a full meal including all the courses. Sarah does not have to worry about arriving to her evening meal “on time”. Sometimes Sarah prefers to have lunch in The Bistro where her meals are made to order. She loves the homemade soups and the daily flatbread special. She also takes advantage of the to-go meals when she feels like eating in the comfort of her own apartment. In addition, the amount of meals Sarah receives is completely up to her. She can choose to have no meal plan and buy her meals ala carte if she wants to. Sarah initially started on a 30 meal per month plan and reduced that to 15 meals each month when she discovered how many meals she was preparing for herself. Sarah was also concerned about her future at a private-pay only community such as The Cottages. She has plenty of money and remains very independent but this may not always be the case. She has started to take advantage of the Personal Support Home Care program at The Park Danforth which provides housekeeping and laundry service. Sarah knows that if she ever needs assisted living, Clark’s Terrace, The Park Danforth’s assisted living program will be available to her as will the federally subsidized apartments if she qualifies financially. Sarah cannot put a price tag on the peace of mind that the The Park Danforth’s options and flexibility provides her. Unlike Mary, Sarah is getting the flexibility she deserves.