Squeezing the Most out of Retirement

Post by Christy Stevens

Baby Boomers have always expected to squeeze as much out of their lives as they possibly could. Why should that stop as they transition to retirement age? And what really is considered “being retired” anymore?

The expectation of working until 65 and then retiring with a pension is disappearing for many Americans. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2022 an estimated 13.2 million workers over the age of 65 will log office hours.

And for many Baby Boomers, that’s just how they want it. It doesn’t matter if slowing down is an option, many Boomers simply don’t want to stop working. They start new companies, volunteer at local schools and community centers and embark on new travel adventures. Retirement to them isn’t about pulling back, it’s about expanding the possibilities of what life still holds.

Experience is the new youth. 60 is the new 40. And an active adult doesn’t need to be told that they’re active. They know it.

A new Denver community discovered this paradigm shift and is celebrating the refreshing tilt in thinking. It’s challenging the idea of what a 55+ community should be and asking for its target market to tell them how they should respond. Instead of following the typical path to creating a 55+ community, Skyestone representatives set about turning the concept on its ear, listening to real Colorado residents about the needs and desires of their lives and their communities.

What the community has found so far is today’s retiree wants:

–  A future that makes financial sense

–  A lifestyle and community that offers intimacy and meaningful relationships

–  A vibrant lifestyle that grows, not diminishes, with age

Which is why Skyestone is aiming to be different from other communities – it’s been designed that way.

The result is a boutique experience, more neighborhood than subdivision, that offers hiking instead of golf courses and community gardens in place of contract bridge.

“With Skyestone, the concept is simple: Deliver an experience that can’t be duplicated because it’s designed specifically for the people who will live there,” said Kathy Curtis, community manager of Skyestone. “When you approach a community this way, no ordinary marketing campaign will do.”

Which is why Skyestone is asking Baby Boomers to be the face of the neighborhood, with the winners featured in the community’s marketing campaign.

The Broomfield, Colorado community launched a six-week campaign to find people who lead interesting and fulfilling lives and best exemplify what it means to live a life greater than their age. The “Greater Than My Age™” contest kicked off May 15 and runs through June 30, 2013.

Once selected, the winners will be featured prominently in the active adult community’s marketing campaign, including a photo shoot that captures them doing what they love. They will be featured for their authentic lives and zest for living, with their love of life splashed across Skyestone’s print advertisements, web campaigns and more. They will also figure largely in the grand opening events for the community, currently slated for October.

But more importantly, they will signal to other Baby Boomers that it’s okay to keep going, to keep striving for more.

“Baby Boomers want more from life, more from their experiences,” Curtis said. “We want to put an authentic face on what we believe is a new kind of community for them.”

To nominate an inspiring person, please visit http://www.facebook.com/skyestonedenver.

Researching and Selecting a Senior Living Facility: Key Considerations

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Finding the right senior living home for an aging parent or loved one is a daunting task, particularly if mom or dad is reluctant to move. There are many reasons why an aging parent may be hesitant to accept the idea of a move to senior living:

  • They feel they are too young for senior living.
  • The idea of downsizing is too overwhelming.
  • They’re not ready to give up their independence.

Each of these potential roadblocks should be addressed in the search by finding a facility that meets not only your parent’s care needs, but his emotional and social needs as well. Fortunately, there are a variety of types of senior living communities designed to accommodate seniors and retirees at the different stages of life.

  • Independent living: Residents have private apartments and are in charge of their own schedules and care.
  • Retirement communities: Geared towards the 55-plus age bracket, retirement communities offer independent apartments or free-standing homes. Residents have access to amenities on the campus, such as fitness centers and swimming pools, and maintain complete control over their medical and social needs.
  • Care homes: Ideal for seniors requiring some assistance with care, but who aren’t ready for institutional living.
  • Assisted living: Staff are on hand 24-7 to provide assistance with personal care needs, and while activities are typically offered, residents may choose whether to participate and can also maintain an outside social life.
  • Nursing homes: The highest level of senior living, nursing homes offer 24-7 medical care and are designed for seniors who need more than assistance with activities of daily living.
  • Memory care faciltiies: Designed for seniors with memory impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease, memory care facilities operate much like an assisted living facility with specialized activities designed for cognitive benefit.

So where to begin?

With the many options available, knowing where to start is often the most challenging step. Answering a few key questions can help you determine which type of care is best for your loved one, so you can narrow your search to the senior living communities that are the best fit.

  1. How much care does your loved one need? Is he able to perform activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, etc.) without assistance? Does your loved one require constant supervision or have advanced medical needs?
  2. How will you pay for senior housing? Does your loved one have Medicare or Medicaid? Not every facility accepts these sources of payment, so this will be important in making your decision.
  3. How active is your loved one’s social life? Will she prefer to go on frequent outings and participate in facility activities?

Armed with this information, you should now have an idea of what type of senior living community is best for your loved one. At this point, you can contact facilities in your loved one’s area (or desired area, if she plans to move to be closer to family). It’s important to engage the admissions representative on the phone and ask plenty of questions before setting up a tour of the facility. Asking questions such as accepted payment sources, care provided, and activities offered will help you narrow your list.

If your loved one is able to get around easily, you should take him on facility tours with you. It’s wise to tour at least four to five facilities to form a basis for comparison. When you schedule a tour, arrive armed with a detailed list of questions to help uncover information that may not be obvious. The following checklists are a good starting point:

Sometimes, families just know when they’ve found the right senior living home for an aging loved one because it just feels right. In other cases, it may come down to choosing between two or three facilities that each meet your loved one’s needs. Making a list of pros and cons for comparison can help with this last stage in the process. But remember, at the end of the day, it’s about your loved one being healthy, happy and comfortable – so keep both physical and emotional/social needs in mind throughout the process.

SeniorHomes.com is a free resource for people looking for a for a loved one or themselves. We provide rich information about the options available in someone’s local market as well as great content to help them through their decisions. 

Excitement in Retirement

So after scrimping and doing without for so long, with years of putting others needs first as you provided for your family and countless re-evaluations of when and if you can retire, you have finally crossed the threshold. You are retired – let the golden years begin! It has been a hard road and you can consider yourself lucky as I am reading yet another headline saying 27% of those over 55 are postponing retirement. In fact some wonder if they will ever be able to retire.

We all want to retire at some point – what that retirement will look like exactly is subject to interpretation as many will continue to work in some capacity whether they need to or because they want to.  But deep down I think we all believe that retirement is an American way of life just like owning a home or getting an education. Hmm – those are not such a given anymore either – these times they are a changing. At least it USED TO BE assumed that retirement awaited us all when age 65 rolled around so for the sake of this post let’s assume that things are as they used to be and you are among the retired masses.

Your calendar is open, you list is made, the day awaits – where to start? At your “ripe old age”, do you even remember how to have fun? And as we have been warned, the first six months of retirement are easy – the honeymoon period when we can finally do what we want to do when we want to do it. The new freedom is intoxicating but be aware the hangover. One morning you may awake and find yourself wondering what you will do with the rest of your retirement years and there are a lot of them!

Excitement in Retired Life

I believe we do in fact know how to have fun but we have insulated ourselves to survive an often unfriendly world. In retirement, this insulation can get in the way of us stepping out and really enjoying ourselves. Better safe than sorry is no way to enter a retirement that may be 20 or 30 or more years. What can we do to regain that free feeling we experienced during the honeymoon period? Where can senior citizens find excitement in retirement?

Watch hockey! Growing up I had never seen or had any interest in seeing a hockey game. Then a friend took me to a live Sharks game back in 1993.  Although I did not understand the nuances, the incredible energy of the screaming fans quickly raised my excitement level and I was hollering along with the rest of the faithful. When I came home that night, I lay awake for hours until I finally calmed down enough to sleep. I have been a fan ever since and the fact that my son and daughter are equally fanatical just adds to the experience for us all. I am sure other sports have similar impact on people but for me it is hockey. And with the San Jose SHARKS just one round away from the Stanly Cup Finals, now is the time to witness playoff hockey which is as good as is gets!

Take that trip and take a chance – my wife has traveled extensively over the years and is comfortable in pretty much any situation. Her past adventures include hiking alone through Guatemala for three months. So when we travel these days, I follow her lead. While in Paris she wanted to visit Montmartre, renowned for its Sacre Cour church and as a hangout for local artists. However to get there we had to wend our way through a less-than-desirable neighborhood asking directions if we dared from the always helpful French locals (!) Following her lead and holding her hand firmly we made the journey and arrived safely, and it was the highpoint of a very exciting vacation trip. You never know what some out-of-the-way neighborhood may have to offer until you walk its streets. Moral of the story – take a chance, step outside of your comfort zone a bit and experience the real world outside of movies and TV specials.

Buy and manage a hotel on a Caribbean island – the sun, the sand, freedom from crowds and incessant advertising, a steel-drum playing in the background with a fruity rum drink in your hand, a tropical island may be just the ticket. Put your entrepreneurial skills to work and watch the rest of the world go by. Actually before you attempt such an endeavor I recommend you read Herman Wouk’s Don’t stop the Carnival. Even if you decide against the tropical move, the book is a wonderful read!

Become a blogger – there is an amazing array of personalities in the blogosphere with interests spanning everything from retirement to reptiles. As you write and read other blogs, you will meet folks with similar interests and passions. You can share your thoughts in your posts as well as interact with others via their blog and websites. It is easy and rewarding and who knows where it may lead.

Retirement is only the beginning. Don’t be afraid to live. Don’t be crazy dangerous but also don’t be overly cautious. Live the life you have dreamed and if you are so inclined, share your adventures with the rest of us. We just might find the inspiration we need to step outside of our own safety zone and live an exciting retirement life.