Conscious Aging: Selectively Adding Back

Paring down is something most of us do as we age. When I moved from a home in Rochester to a 1200 square foot condo in Seattle, I did the major winnowing — and I got rid of a lot. When you have to pay to move stuff across the country, you really think about how important each item is to your ongoing life. When I moved from 1200 square feet to 900 square feet, I pared down more. My apartment with the great view of Mt. Rainier and Puget Sound had next to no kitchen — clearly not designed for people who intended to cook even simple meals. I didn’t even have a toaster, because my very limited counter space didn’t allow.

I’ve been using the heck out of my new toaster, which sits easily accessible on the counter of my wonderful kitchen in the home I’m renting from Sara.

As part of a periodic financial review, I’ve been looking at retirement communities here in Seattle so that I understand the different financial models and options. Basically I don’t like any of the financial models, most of which involved putting down a huge chunk of capital in return for lifetime security — a promise only good until the next big earthquake or until the management company goes bust or until the economy tanks and the financial projections for solvency no longer work and only changes to the contract will ensure staying in business. In some places you can put less down and get nothing back, which seems equally bad for me and entirely to the benefit of the retirement community.

A few places have no big upfront pay, but a much higher monthly fee — and in Seattle, most of those places are too far out geographically for me to be interested. My adult kids lead busy and hectic lives, and they are not going to drive to the hinterlands to visit me if there are better options.

I won’t go off on an extended rant about these business models — although I could. Suffice to say that if and when a retirement community is in my near future, we’re talking something more like 650 square feet.

I’m trying hard not to add things back in — and yet. I have no mixing bowls, having gotten rid of those on a previous move. Sara and Ben are going to made guacamole for my birthday barbecue, and they’ll do it here. I’m happy to get the ingredients, but I’m tired of saying “And by the way, bring your own bowl to prepare the guac.” At Easter brunch, which I enjoyed hosting, we had nothing in which to cook an amount of bacon sufficient to feed all the guests. My one frying pan of decent size was otherwise in use.

In Rochester we kept a full bar. Here, I have wine on hand, and Scotch — the latter only Matt and I drink. I asked the kids what I might get to augment my offerings for the birthday barbecue, something short of stocking a full bar. Sangria? Gin and tonic? Nah. My kids drink Dark & Stormy, a concoction made of rum and ginger beer. Ben and Sara are bringing the supplies, which they will leave here. I think they’re calling dibs on who picks the rum. 🙂

The short point of this rather long post is that I’m selectively adding back: mixing bowls, a griddle, and some more drink options. Oh, and inexpensive glasses for mimosas and bubbly, both of which my kids like.

Trying not to go wild with my purchases, which is tempting when I have a kitchen full of lovely cabinets and everything I’m talking about makes perfect sense and will be put to good use. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Conscious Aging: Selectively Adding Back

  1. Glad you are enjoying your house.

    I’m not in favor of the retirement communities or assisted living if there’s a way to keep a person in their own home. Getting full time live in help can be less expensive and enable the person to stay in their home. Elderly do much better in their own environment.

    My mother will soon be 92. She lives alone once my Dad died. She drove and did her own shopping until she was 90. After 2 falls it was clear she wasn’t safe living alone. She lived at my home for 2 months and was depressed and miserable. We adapted her 102 year old home , including installing a chair life to get to the 2nd floor bedrooms. We put handrails in the bathrooms and grab bars by the doors. We got a 24-7 live in. My mom calls her her “assistant “. She functions like a “Lady’s Maid” as in Downton Abbey My Mom is happy in her own home and it’s more economical than a nursing or senior home. She still goes to church on Sunday and we use her house as the place for family parties eg St Patrick’s Day and Easter. I’m sure retirement communities work for some but I have found staying in ones own home works for lots of older people.

  2. for Katie: I so admire your mother, and also the way that you see to her needs. I’m sure your siblings pitch in, but you appear to carry the bulk of it. I agree that retirement communities are not optimal. Even the very high end ones strike me as something akin to junior high in their social dynamics. I’m aware that because I live alone, there are health or other circumstances that might make living here not feasible. I hope that day doesn’t come — but being a planner, I want to know what the options are.

  3. I have visited some of the senior communities that offer lots of activities. My friend has one in Florida where she spends the winter. There’s huge pools, movies, evening events, shows and even emergency pull cord in the bathroom. It offers lots of socialization. However as you age if you need extra help it is an option to Hire a live-in assistant.

  4. for Katie: Agree that considering all options is wise. My mother moved into an assisted living place, and she found it depressing that people died rather often.

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