Live your golden years at a Holiday Inn? For at least one potential retiree, that may be a great and affordable way to spend your nest egg. But not everyone agrees.
A man's post describing a plan to spend his retirement years in Holiday Inns went viral this month, but experts say seniors can't find solace in the satirical plan.
The Facebook post touting the idea strikes a chord with some seniors because of its simplicity: "No nursing home for us. We'll be checking into a Holiday Inn!" the poster, Terry Robison, writes.
"With the average cost for a nursing home care costing $188.00 per day, there is a better way when we get old and too feeble," the 64-year-old resident of a Houston suburb wrote. "I've already checked on reservations at the Holiday Inn. For a combined long term stay discount and senior discount, it's $59.23 per night. Breakfast is included, and some have happy hours in the afternoon."
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But the idea touts misconceptions about elderly people's needs, senior living experts told USA TODAY, even as many seniors today cannot afford assisted care facilities.
"This is all just based on the idea that you have nothing else to do but check in and out of a Holiday Inn and take an airport shuttle," said Caroline Cicero, an associate professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California. "And that's just not based in reality."
Seniors need a sense of purpose, Cicero said, and many spend their time working, volunteering, taking care of grand children or doing art. Hotel living is especially impractical, Cicero said, for physically disabled seniors who need help with daily activities such as bathing and getting dressed.
Before social media, Cicero said people have shared a hotel retirement plan in chain emails since at least a decade ago. Robison said he edited a chain email he received over a year ago to create his Feb. 7 post. Surprised that over 100,000 people shared the idea, Robison said he meant to describe hotel living as a cheaper alternative to an independent living center geared toward mentally and physically fit seniors, not a nursing home.
While rates at Holiday Inns and assisted living facilities vary throughout the nation, Robison said he came up with $59.23 versus $188 a night from a Houston hotel and what friends pay for facilities. But he admits he isn't sure if he will follow through with the idea.
"I would not rule it out completely," Robison told USA TODAY.
Robison said he wrote the post with a dash of humor and that he hopes people appreciate it.
"Maybe it did open it up to a certain degree for debate so if it did that I'm happy for that," he said. "And if it was a way for people to vent, that's good . . . Because they shared it, I think they enjoyed it."
If someone budgets carefully, it may be possible to save a bit of money living in motels instead of a luxury senior home, said Sue Johansen, VP of Partner Services for A Place for Mom, a Seattle-based senior care referral service. But unlike senior living communities, Johansen said hotels do not help people develop long-term companionship or engage in mentally-stimulating activities. Hotel staff also aren't trained to notice warning signs in a senior's health.
While it may sound "sexy," she said none of her clients have ever seriously proposed choosing hotels or cruise ships instead of a senior living center.
"You start to look at not only the associated costs, but what life would really be like isolated in a hotel somewhere and I think it loses a lot of its appeal," Johansen said.
For independent living, Johansen said she's seen offers for $85 per day or $1,995 per month for the first year. Nursing homes can cost $200 per day, Cicero said, while continuing care facilities — where people start at the independent level and add more services as needed — require an entrance fee plus monthly charges. Entrance fees can range from $100,000 to $1 million, according to AARP, with monthly costs from $3,000 to $5,000.
"Most people in reality can't afford that, certainly if you aren't a homeowner," Cicero said. "It's based on the idea that you sell your home and then have this chunk of money to slap down on a continuing care."
When seniors can't afford to move into assisted living, Johansen said reports of falls and emergencies rise. If a senior falls and breaks a hip, Cicero said they can need nursing home care for the rest of their life. Although the Facebook post states a hotel will "upgrade you to a suite" after a senior breaks a hip, Cicero said many hotel rooms are not accessible for people using wheelchairs or walkers anyways.
As of Wednesday, Robison said Holiday Inn has not contacted him about the post. The owner of Holiday Inn, InterContinental Hotels Group, gave another reason to visit its hotels in a statement.
"While we’re not certain how Mr. Robison arrived at his current budget calculations, we look forward to welcoming him when he reaches his “golden age,'" an IHG spokesperson said. "He did miss one big benefit in his long list of reasons to stay with us – kids eat for free at Holiday Inn."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Maybe it's not so golden: Seniors might not want a Holiday Inn retirement life, experts say