Assisted Living

4/27/2015 | By Terri L. Jones

If you’re planning a move to a retirement community soon, you may be worrying about all the changes you have ahead of you. But if you’re a woman, you’re probably finding yourself preoccupied by one thing in particular: How will you get your hair done?

Most senior living communities know that looking good has a direct correlation to feeling good for both their female and male residents. That’s why many communities have brought salon and barber shop services on-site, giving seniors easy access to a wash and set or a shave along with a big boost to their self-esteem.

But these bastions of beauty are hardly your run-of-the-mill salons on the corner. In honor of National Hairstylists Appreciation Day on April 30, here are some of the key differences you’ll find amid the scissors and the shampoo at these beauty and barber shops:

Peace. Mainstream salons are generally abuzz with voices, music and activity. But most onsite retirement community salons deliberately try to keep the noise level down so you can relax while you’re being pampered. Plus, you won’t have to listen to pop music while you’re having your hair done. Instead these beauty and barber shops generally play background music that’s more familiar to you, like Barbra Streisand or Johnny Mathis, so you can hum along while they’re snipping your hair or painting your toenails.

Expertise. The stylists who work in these shops have experience working with seniors; therefore, they know the cuts and styles you’re looking for (in other words, they’re not going to give you Molly Cyrus’ hairdo unless you want it!) and the products that will keep your hair its healthiest. These salons also have special equipment and tools to better serve their senior clients. For example, they might have brushes that are easier on your sensitive scalp, or if you’re in a wheelchair, a specially designed cape could enable you to remain upright during a shampoo.

Finesse. There are many differences between serving an older clientele and a mixed group, and sometimes those differences require that the salon change the rules a bit. Because many of their customers are experiencing some memory loss, the salon staff will generally remind them of their appointments, and if the customer still forgets, the beauty/barber shop typically won’t charge a no-show fee like a traditional salon.

Plus, many stylists say that their older clients appreciate them more. In turn, that leads to happier stylists, and often, closer relationships between stylists and clients.

Perks. Knowing that your loved ones are key to your happiness, these businesses find ways to involve them. One salon offers “duet services” where you can enjoy a mani or a pedi side by side with your daughter, granddaughter, friend or even your husband. Some beauty and barber shops offer gift cards online to make it easy for your friends and family to surprise you with an hour or two of pampering and then deliver the gift cards right to your door!

Note: All of the services described above aren’t offered at all onsite community salons. When touring a community, be sure to check out the beauty/barber shop and don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure it will meet your needs.

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over 10 years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones