AGING IN PLACE 201
My travels over the last few weeks have brought into perspective a deeper understanding of how people are actually trying to age in place. When I first thought about starting this website and choosing to create a social network format , my thought was it is all about the connections. Through our lives we make connections acquaintances, join groups and hopefully make close friends. It is those strong tough connections to those who have shared a lot of our lives that matter but we must also make new connections as we age.
As I am rethinking my values clarification survey for those who are in the “should I stay or Should I go” category of decision making, I realize it is hard to quantify those connections. You can judge an area by traffic congestion, medical resources or cultural advantages but how do you judge the possible number and strength of your social connections to others.
Being inside an actual 55+ community made me realize two things. It really is temporary but people do not realize it. In my initial CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist ) classes some contractors had brought his up and it did not make sense. The abundance of space, the pristine surroundings the multitudinous activities are all lovely but how enduring is it?
The exclusiveness of gated communities have always bothered me. Being told what colors you can paint your house, how many days your guests can stay etc . Seeing people there patrol their own community ( sometimes just for loose alligators!) made me wonder if you do not fit in how excluded do you feel. Yet the little town center with miniature everything theater restaurant , clubs, crafts has a charm to it. Not walking to but golf carting to. But then 40% of the people are snow birds and leave come Spring. It was like viewing an beautifully but sterile painting of something that is not quite real..
When talking to a couple on our the cruise about the Villages in Florida they surprised me by saying the major retirement CCRC and Assisted Living companies were building new units in the center of the regular housing and that people were almost prematurely selling their single family homes “to secure a spot”. So how permanent is that?
Swing to the other side of our trip and watching older relatives (15 years plus our age) manage their own sweet modest home in a community they have lived in for at least the last 10 years many years since giving up snow birding back to the cold north, brought out a whole different reaction.
The real part is those phone calls to and from family, friends and neighbors both near and far who still call to hear the good bad and the nitty-gritty of how you are doing. Giving advice- taking advice and hanging in there for the long haul. Sincere connections are the heart beat of aging in place. Where do you think you can best maintain them?