Part 8: Reflections after Five Years
What My New Life Holds
Was it a wise decision in 2008 to move to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC)? In retrospect should I have done something different? Do I recommend this move to others? Is it perfect?
My move has been right for me and I recommend it! Of course it isn’t perfect. In my opinion, getting old isn’t so great. I wish I were still out there skiing Snowmass Mountain, walking the Ditch Trail and playing tennis with my buddies twice a week.
I’m leading a very different life now. In fact if I am really being honest with myself, my life is very different from five years ago when my husband and I first moved into our cottage. Different because I have lost my husband, moved from my cottage to the Lodge and closed my psychotherapy practice. However, my heath remains very good: my body is sturdy and my mind still works pretty well. Weekly I attend on-site exercise classes that include two fitness classes, a yoga class and a Zumba class. On the days I do not exercise, I walk two miles on a delightful trail adjacent to the Lodge. While I no longer see psychotherapy clients, my professional writing assignments have increased and that is a source of great satisfaction for me. I wish I had more. Do my readers have any writing suggestions?
The number of social and fun things I do has increased during the time I have lived here, since I now have more play time. The choices are many and anyone here who complains that there is nothing to do has a real problem. If I choose, I can sign up to be driven to all sorts of outings in the Metro Denver community; if I were a foodie I could get on our Lodge bus and have lunch or dinner at different restaurants each week. There are opportunities to attend theater, from Broadway shows to excellent community theater. The same is true with concerts, dance and art exhibits. There are a number of resident-presented classes and lectures, as well as resident-run clubs and groups available to sign up for. I attend a monthly writers’ group and a monthly book club.
The Lifestyle Director and her resident committee are always coming up with something new. They like to plan parties, such as an Oscar Awards party, and a few weeks later, they organized a St. Patrick’s Day party and asked us all to dress in green. It was quite a sight! Easter and Mother’s Day involved wonderful brunches that we could invite our families to join. Cinco de Mayo was celebrated May 5th with a cocktail party. This month there was a Father’s Day buffet with food choices selected for men in mind, and we can anticipate lots of fun activities for the Fourth of July.
How My Home has Changed
Our CCRC is one of nine properties owned by a for-profit corporation. Residents have a large advisory management responsibility. I spent four years as a member and then as Chair of the Resident Advisory Committee. My tenure recently ended and has freed up a lot of my time.
It has been a unique experience for me and my friends, who moved in when this CCRC was new, to watch how our home has developed. Currently we have over three hundred residents and are almost full. I learned early on how important it was to choose a Last Stop located close to an adult child. Many of our original group moved here from far and wide to be close to their children.
More recently, many of the newer residents have moved here from close by. As the housing market improved, they were able to sell their homes and move to a place that they watched being built. Their needs are different from those of us who moved from far away because they can, and usually do, continue their previous community connections. This is nice for them. Some of us, myself included, get a bit of cabin fever without some community outlet. I have solved this by playing duplicate bridge at a local bridge club two days a week. Besides stimulating my mind and being fun, it exposes me to different people. Some residents find this at their church and participate in activities there.
For two years, when I first moved, I volunteered at the local elementary school one morning a week. At first I was reluctant, given my age, but I realized this was silly thinking. I was warmly welcomed in classrooms of third and fourth graders and the teachers were delighted to be assisted by someone who understood kids. As my psychotherapy practice grew, I did not have the time to continue volunteering. I eagerly encourage my friends to volunteer at a school since teachers are so overburdened and we seniors are deeply welcomed.
I have no idea what the future holds for me. I look at my fellow residents who are aging well and marvel at some of the folks in their nineties who are managing their lives vigorously and independently. There are others, some considerably younger than me, who have lost the zest they arrived with and I wonder how much longer they can manage in independent living. I would welcome life as it is now for a long time, but if I fail I hope a bolt of lightening hits and ends me.
Yes, it has been a good five years and I look forward to continuing this good life.
Written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist specializing in child development. Margery currently lives in a continuing care retirement community outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her senior living experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”