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What are You Looking for in a Retirement Community?

I’m not so sure what I want is out there.

Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about what I'll be looking for in an older living situation. Like many, my hope is to enjoy living in my own home with caregiver support when and if I may need it, but what might I want from an assisted living facility and/or retirement community? Does it exist?

I would be looking for a living situation that allows me to remain very socially involved, with educational opportunities, a place that offers car or bus service to the movies, ski resorts, shopping and so forth. I would want to be smack in the middle of a complex that offered all these services and maybe more, like restaurants on site or in the complex — something akin to Patriot Place with my apartment within walking distance.

How about a pharmacist in-house — one that can educate and review meds with you, and makes sure any medication you are taking is correct. A real concierge service, with planned day, week and/or weekend travel, information on (and transportation to) gyms and dance studios/lessons (not just an in-house rehab room to visit).

Technology is all the rage, but most boomers consider this stuff part of their daily living already. We have been using and working it for years now so having this available is not going to be considered a plus in terms of living— in fact, it’s expected. 

I think we will be looking for much more. What do you think?

Take some time to mull over the cultural differences in our generation as compared to our parents. Boomers are more informed, and we have traditionally advocated for ourselves. We already know about iPhones and the Internet — the mere fact that it’s available in an assisted living/retirement community scenario is not going to push us to throw our hat into the ring.

Are facilities ready for us? Are you willing to pay $3000 to $6000 a month to live in a place because they offer wireless service? I don’t think so.

We are an aging population that wants to live while we age. We will still want to be involved in the things we care about and we are definitely well-informed. We will not buy into the over-medication solutions as an answer for everything, nor will we be looking for a cookie-cutter community that offers no real living opportunities. There’ll be no confusing us with our parents.  Our generation wants to live, not get old. We want to stay either at home or go to a facility where we can continue to keep enjoying all that life has to offer.

As a Boomer myself, I would be looking to first stay at home but if that option fails I’d like to find myself a living life center.

Is a resort-like setting the answer for us? 

This is what I don’t want. I visited a beautiful Florida community where friends of my parents moved when they were 55-65 years old. It’s stunning, with a great clubhouse, golf-course and 2 pools. Now, 25-30 years later, it is full with 80 year olds. No transportation services to anywhere, no educational opportunities, no connection to the real world — the place is now a paradise prison.

The paradise prison won’t work for me.

Baby Boomers are a unique group; we are bound by a common history and a strong dose of nostalgia. Did you know that nostalgia increases perceptions of social support, and that this sense of social connectedness feeds the soul? Nostalgia is similar to optimism in maintaining good health.

We Boomers are also passionate about sustainable agriculture, protecting the environment and using renewable energy. Many were opposed to the Vietnam War, investing time and energy to shape public opinion through demonstrating and pamphlet passing. We chose to live outside the boundaries and took inordinate risks. We sought and continue to seek paths of self-improvement, always looking for new ways to express ourselves and our values. What does all this say about how and where we might want to live as we age?

In closing, I ask you to please feel free to pen your thoughts on where you would like to be living and aging here.

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