The older I get the “less old” I feel. Thoughts of living in a nursing home or even an assisted living facility are not in my game plan, which means I am drawn to articles that open the door to other possibilities.
I worked with seniors long before I became one, and it always distressed me when they would quietly whisper that they didn’t want to be a burden to anyone. It seemed to me to be a mind game that many older people buy into. I noticed that it had little to do with how much care they actually needed. I didn’t like hearing it then and I like hearing it now even less. We are going to live too long to settle into that kind of thinking, so let’s figure out a way to be one of the new “non-traditional” seniors. That phrase has a nice ring, don’t you think?
The Wall Street Journal featured an article by Kelly Greene this weekend (March 17-18, 2012) about innovated housing choices for non-traditional seniors. In many cases, even luxurious spa resorts, cost less or at least no more than traditional living arrangements. The article examined living abroad, lengthy cruises, backyard bungalows, spa living and more.
What do you think? It will take a little more thought and creativity but with family support and your willing participation, you should be able to live quite socially and quite comfortably elsewhere. Granted it will take a little more planning than just writing a monthly check to an institution, but don’t you think you are worth it? Let yourself dream a little. With a good advocate, typically an adult child, you can do just about anything your way.
These concepts are new, but I agree with the author that they are here to stay. People are living longer and they are all going to have to think creatively in order to stretch retirement dollars. This is where creativity comes in. Even people developing medical problems (and aren’t we all at this point) don’t want to live out their days in a one room apartment. Some of the alternatives discussed in this article were living abroad; setting up housekeeping in a small cottage in a family yard, having a condo near a family member, cohousing, spa (resort) living or even taking multiple trips with a cruise line.
Americans have been retiring abroad since it was first discovered that living elsewhere costs considerably less than staying at home. You may not like living that far away from your family, but many seniors live in facilities that are thousands of miles away from their nearest relative anyway. The world is smaller today and anything is possible. Besides, they may visit more often if you live on a beach in Costa Rica. However, if you have a warm fuzzy relationship with your adult children you might consider living down the street or even in their backyard. All sorts of cottages have been developed to house older adults (or an adult child) who prefer to live nearby but in separate living quarters. The article mentioned MedCottages and this concept sounded great. I had read about using sensors to monitor home activities but not in a capsule home of your own. I plan to research this idea a little further. Apparently, small accessible cottages have been designed and outfitted in such a manner that the person living there can be monitored (on-line if you wish) with regard to health and mobility issues.
The author also mentioned cohousing for anyone interested in being independent but living communally. I would say off hand that a permanent cruise sounded a little far fetched, but I have met quite a few older people who do indeed do cruise after cruise after cruise. They love it! They are able to fulfill their dreams of traveling while enjoying unbelievable amenities. Some people enjoy the camaraderie of living in a resort part time or even full time. At any rate, the article was an eye opener and certain presents a number of options to think about.