Can’t Find My Way Home

Lately, researchers and aging experts have begun predicting where and how Baby Boomers are going to spend the rest of their lives. Some say we will seek out  a “niche” retirement community, while others say we want to age-in-place in our own home retrofitted to accommodate current (or future) ailments.  Then there are those who suggest that we might sell the old homestead, buy an RV and see the USA. Another possibility being batted around is that, due to the recession, increased longevity and poor retirement planning, a good many Boomers may be forced to move in with their adult children.

Moving in with my kids (shudder) will hopefully be a last resort and I believe I am correct in assuming they feel the same. So, maybe it would be useful to get a head start and examine other housing options on the menu.

Retirement Communities

Not to be confused with nursing homes! Baby Boomers have a negative attitude about “homes for the aged” and apparently fear being put in one.  Hopefully, the Boomer generation’s desire to avoid entering the old-fashioned version of skilled nursing facilities will serve to propel the industry towards positive change. Some of these “homes” are rushing to update their style and the services offered to residents. One improvement taking place is the consideration of an older person’s wish to return to their own home after hospitalization. The result is a kind of rehabilitation halfway house located on the hospital’s campus. Also, most assisted living facilities are implementing culture changes such as a more inviting, homelike decor, less institutionalized attitudes, and allowing residents the ability to determine their own daily schedules.

These are welcome upgrades to nursing homes but let’s concentrate on healthy aging.


The Center for Disease Control has defined aging-in-place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” The spark from this idea has been lighting up architectural firms, disability product companies, home health care agencies and technology start-ups all around the world. Aging Boomers can choose to pay off their home, remodel a bit and live out the rest of their healthy lives in the neighborhood they have grown to love. A whole new area in the residential remodeling industry has been created where having a CAPS (certified aging in place specialist) designation can give companies a competitive edge in helping a home-owner retrofit their home for physical age-related changes and future ailments. Using residential universal design ideas, a Baby Boomer can slowly make changes to living areas, such as kitchen and bath, that will accommodate and aid health limitations and still retain a certain design aesthetic. Once the house is set up for the eventualities of aging, the homeowner can still deal with incapacitating illness by employing medical home care helpers.

Check out these great ideas and products:

Other Retirement Living Ideas

  • Retirement Recreational Vehicle Parks: Lots of parks cater to the 55+ crowd and one even provides special CARE (continuing assistance for retired escapees) Rainbow’s End RV Park Livingston, TX.
  • Cruise Ship Living: Writer Brian Jaeger lists 6 Reasons to Consider Retirement on a Cruise. Among them are socialization, food, and service. He reasons that the cost can be significantly less than some high-end retirement communities. But if you have cashed out with plenty of retirement dough, you might want to own a piece of The World Residences at Sea.
  • Living with your kids:  Crack open a bottle of Boone’s Farm and put some records on the stereo because Mom and Pop are moving in!!

Here’s hoping we all find our way home….

Be True to Your School: Alumni Travel

During the first week of my freshman year at University of Missouri-Columbia, my roommate and I (prophetically) painted the title to Cat Stevens song “On the Road to Find Out” in Day-Glo paint on our dorm room window. I only logged one year there before I dropped out and became a flight attendant for Braniff International Airways. I traded the four year college experience for a chance to discover the world. Though my career actually became traveling, my Braniff buddies and I were always looking for an opportunity to cobble together a few days off and take a trip somewhere. You would think we would want to stay home for a bit, but we were young, adventurous and there were so many interesting places to visit. Our tight budgets required modest accommodations. Staying in a Rome hostel or sleeping on the train while exploring England were the norm. We would loosely compile a list of things we wanted to see and do when we got to wherever we were going, but usually plans were ditched in exchange for spontaneity. My world view was forever changed by those impromptu travels.

Traveling with children can also alter your world view-dramatically. When you hit the child-rearing stage of life, the term “vacation” is revised to mean “kid-friendly”. Disneyland, camping, skiing, lakes, beach trips etc. become part of your job description as parents. Spontaneity during a vacation with kids translates into  “Ok, Johnny is throwing up in the back seat so it looks like I’ll be staying in the car while you guys go see the Grand Canyon.”  You learn to pack the following on family vacations; patience, love of drive-thru fast food, and Dramamine. Memories (good and sometimes not so good) are made on these getaways. However, the biggest bonus is watching your child step out of their comfort zone by engaging with different landscapes, people, and cultures. Consequently, their world view is changed.

As I have finally begun the post-post-postpartum stage of life, I find myself a bit jealous of the collegiate career I passed up. Not only for the knowledge I would have acquired back then, but because I have no true alumni connection. I do realize that saves me from being badgered during dinner by annual phon-a-thons-which can be a  good thing. But when my husband and our kids (who all went 4 years to college) receive alumni magazines in the mail, I read them cover to cover. Isn’t that weird? Besides noting the enduring camaraderie  among the alums who send in updates, I also read about the interesting tour packages offered by alumni associations. Most are educationally focused and some (like Northwestern University) may provide a faculty member to host the trip and offer enrichment lectures. Groups of old college friends sometimes go together and send in accounts of the wonderfully planned excursions these trips entailed. I examine the destinations and itineraries and make a mental note that one day my husband and I should sign up and go. The irony is certainly not lost on me that I have come full circle from my younger days. Now, I am MORE than willing to trade spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants travel for educationally-focused, college-associated, air/meals/hotel accommodations-included travel. I just want to show up and enjoy the fruits of travel research done by somebody else!

So, in light of this future fantasy of mine, I checked with a few colleges travel operators to see if you really HAVE to be an alumni to join the tour. Guess what? Your money is good without a diploma!! That being said, I absolutely believe in supporting the annual fund-raising efforts of colleges and universities. Even giving $5 to your graduating class when they call can help with their participation statistics. And remember just how much you enjoyed your 4 years of Higher Education. So, like the Beach Boys encourage us in their song–”Be True to Your School.

Here are some of my favorite vicarious Alma Maters and links to their travel sites:

 University of North Texas

University of Texas-Austin

University of Missouri-Columbia

Cornell University

University of Colorado-Boulder

University of Pennsylvania

Louisiana State University


New term for Senior Citizen needed: Baby Boomers may apply

Shortly after the nation’s first Baby Boomer applied for Social Security, I believe the need for a new term in our vocabulary became apparent. Based on what I read and my own informal cocktail party polls, the descriptor “senior citizen” is not very desirable when you’re talkin’ ’bout my generation (great black/white 1967 video of The Who!). I mentioned in a previous post about speaking to numerous directors of lifelong learning programs throughout the country. They described how difficult it is to attract Baby Boomer students. One issue is that most Baby Boomers find the idea of attending classes located in a Senior Center as very unattractive. The general message that Boomers don’t view themselves as an “old person” has been loud and clear.  The director of a facility in the Mid-West told me the board of directors decided to change the look of their recreation center to have the appearance and feel of a ski lodge– even though this state doesn’t even have ski-able mountains.

Another outdated signifier in the Boomer world is the word Grandma (maybe grandpa too, but I only know about female celebrities). If Blythe Danner and Goldie Hawn don’t want to be called grandma then maybe I don’t either. The term conjures up a photo I have of my grandma at just about the age I am now-but she looks so much older. She is grey-haired with no makeup, wearing a “housedress” and orthopedic shoes as she stands beside her stovetop………cooking. Much as I adored my grandma and have fond memories of time spent in that kitchen, I cannot relate to anything in either her appearance or her lifestyle (uh…cooking).

But is the “hope I die before I get old”  (again ladies and gentlemen-The Who) mantra just giving fuel to those who market to Baby Boomers? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Figuring out what aging Boomers want and then passing information on to companies to produce those tangibles can be a good thing in terms of enhancing our quality of life. My grandma’s generation became almost invisible as they aged. The expectation was that older adults did things like sit quietly in a rocking chair, knit, play pinochle or tell stories about “the old country”.  Boomers are different. We will not go gentle into that good night. This generation is so fortunate to have choices about how we conduct our older adult life. Maybe we use anti-aging products, choose to have a second career, take Viagra or give up the house buy an RV and hit the road. None of these options seems to connote a typical “senior citizen”.

Before I knew about Susanna Starr‘s book entitled “Fifty and Beyond: New Beginnings in Health and Well-Being“, I thought the acronym for Fifty And Beyond (FAB) might be a nice shorthand term for aging Baby Boomers. After the British Invasion of 1962, “fab” (British slang for fabulous) crept into our vernacular as well. I think I first heard Patty (or Cathy?) call something “simply fab” on the The Patty Duke Show. Anyway, my programmer and I liked it enough to name the search feature on Snabbo–”Fab Finder”.

“Fab” is just one idea for updating “senior citizen”. Send me yours and I will post them on the Snabbo Home Page as our Featured Group. You can contact me through joining the Snabbo community (now there’s a thought),  send an email to marketing at snabbo dot com or direct message me on Twitter @snabbo.

Below is a bit of dialogue from one of my favorite scenes in the movie “Parenthood”.  For more click here.

Julie: [door slams as Tod leaves after having a fight with Julie] If he thinks I’m having his baby now, he’s crazy!
Helen: [shocked] Baby?
George Bowman: Your daughter’s having a baby?
Helen: [even more shocked] A baby?
George Bowman: You’re going to be a grandma?
Helen: [laughs incredulously] No, no, no, no. I’m too young to be a grandmother. Grandmothers are old. They bake, and they sew, and they tell you stories about the Depression.
Helen: I was at Woodstock, for Christ’s sake! I peed in a field! I hung on to The Who’s helicopter as it flew away!
[gestures wildly]
George Bowman: I was at Woodstock.
Helen: [shouts] Oh yeah? I thought you looked familiar!

Grandma & Me