A NEW LEASE ON LIFE
Jun 3, 2011, 12:19 p.m.
by Maureen Kellen-Taylor, Ph.D.
Somewhere in our 60s or 70s we are moved to reappraise our lives. This may be precipitated by retirement, by losing friends or by realizing that our children are wrapped up in their own lives. Our houses, that were perfect for us while working, entertaining and raising our families, now seem empty and echo with memories of the past. We know that change is upon us and downsizing seems like a good idea. But downsizing to what?
When considering downsizing and moving, it is important to plan ahead and choose the best situation for you – one that will provide the quality of life that not only serves you in the present, but will also help to maintain independence and enjoyment that is so important for everyone.
In this article I hope to briefly describe what is available for people who hope to live a healthy, active and successful lifestyle into their old age.
Successful aging is a popular new concept which is affecting the whole process of how we age. Understanding what composes successful aging, and what to look for in a living situation that supports it, is important in making the decisions of how and where you will want to spend the rest of your life.
What is successful aging? Very simply, it means remaining actively engaged in life on physical, mental, spiritual and relational levels. It is the process of biologically aging while retaining a sense of purpose and confidence that you can continue to master new skills, enjoy meeting new people and embrace new interests. Social networks are very important in making this happen. Where you live can enhance or detract from your efforts to age successfully. Choosing the best situation means finding a place that will not only support the quality of life that serves you in the present, but will also help you to maintain that quality of life and all the activities which contribute to it as the years go by.
In order to make an informed choice, it is useful to assess the challenges you currently face, or may face in the future, and learn about the things available to help you meet those challenges. When it comes to housing, it is extremely important to know what to look for, what is available, and what you will need in order to thrive.
FINDING THE RIGHT PLACE FOR YOU
What are the choices available to you? In Southern California the wide range of housing options include the following:
Shared housing, where a group of unrelated and independent individuals choose to live communally and share housework, chores and companionship. A few of these groups are for seniors only. Shared housing includes intentional communities (www.ic.org), co-housing (www.cohousing.org), and ecovillages (www.ecovillager.org).
Multifamily housing, which often consists of apartments or condominiums that offer independent living for both families and seniors. These facilities provide all the pluses and minuses of coexistence with multiple generations. The U.S. Department of Housing Web site broadly describes these options at www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/hsgabout.cfm
Senior apartment complexes, for those over 55 or 60 that range widely in the amenities they provide. While some of these facilities still adhere to outdated policies on aging, more and more are abandoning the old ways and embracing the active community and “lifestyle” concept.