Conscious Aging: Approaching the Retirement Community Decision Part II

What if your main goal is building in a social life with like-minded people and having a menu of activities without having to go too far to enjoy them? Are CCRC’s a good option then?

Part of the impetus for my looking at a retirement community was that it’s honestly hard to meet new people, especially when I’m no longer working and especially in a young city like Seattle. What does a CCRC offer as a counterweight to that?

Friend and regular reader Eileen, who has also done some looking into retirement communities along with her husband, points out that people who live in them tend to hang out with others near their age group: 60’s with others who are in their 60’s, 70’s with 70’s, 80’s with 80’s, 90’s with 90’s. That way, you don’t feel as if you’re in a ghetto of all old people — especially if you remain active in the larger community.

I’ve noticed two things in friends of mine who have chosen CCRC’s: they tend to do things with others who live in the facility, and they tend to focus on the activities offered there. It’s a bit “path of least resistance”. I’m thinking of a mid-winter Seattle evening when it’s apt to be dark early and maybe raining. If I want to go to the symphony, I don my raincoat, perhaps meet up with a friend, call an Uber — downtown parking is terrible and expensive — and go. If the rain is really coming down and the wind whipping around the corner of my building, I have been known to say, “do I really want to go out tonight?” If I were in a CCRC and a talented musical group was giving an evening performance there, might I give up on the symphony and opt for the easier-to-access even if lesser quality in-house option instead?

I’m also wondering about having a social group that is almost entirely my age or older. I’ve always had friends from a broad age range, and that’s true in Seattle too, even if the number of people in my social circle is smaller. I’m also wondering about path of least resistance thinking again. If it’s hard to meet new people living in the larger community, might I give up on it entirely if I lived around other people my age and could readily do things with them?

The biggest challenge, I suspect, is the one pointed out by son Matt: we tend to gradually adopt the patterns and pace of the people around us. Both Matt and Sara work at tech companies where the pace is rapid, messages are concise and clipped, meetings are brief, and outcomes expected. Both of them, even in their leisure lives, move at a certain pace. When I’m walking with Sara, I’ve learned to pick up my speed to keep up with her. If I live among people who are slower moving, many much slower moving than I, will that slowed down version become my pace too?

On this score, whether a CCRC is a plus in building and maintaining an active social life as we age, I’d say it’s no better than 50-50. Some plusses, but a lot of big minuses too.

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