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….

Tech and the Senior Girl

My mother never wants anyone to know her EXACT age, let’s just say she is qualified to get Senior Citizen discounts, she gave birth to me in 1953 and she was 27 years old at the time.  As they say, you do the math.  My mother retired after 22 years of owning her own staffing agency only 3 years ago. For someone her age, she is pretty tech-savvy and definitely tech-curious. She loves Facebook, email, and playing games on the computer. She joined LinkedIn, loves to sign up on websites and post comments and she wants to learn how to Twitter. About a year ago I opened up an iTunes account for her and handed over my old iPod. She has taken it on several cruises and plays it in the kitchen through the speaker device I gave her. Recently, I got an iPhone and she was really fascinated by all the stuff it can do-most particularly talking to “Siri”. My middle daughter decided she may be ready to graduate to an iPod Touch so she re-gifted “Memaw” her old one. We presented a brief tutorial, handed her a stylus to make the typing a bit easier and now she is off and running. The device has opened up another world for her to explore and learn and the fact that she is mastering a new technology has been a boon to her self-esteem.

My mother’s experience is nothing new to researchers who investigate aging and technology as well as the learning process unique to older adults.  The notion behind older adult learning theory is that immediate relevance and problem-solving are the biggest motivators for acquiring knowledge in an unfamiliar area.  It took a while but many senior citizens finally gave in and joined Facebook because communicating with their grandchildren was a very relevant priority in their lives. In fact, some of those grandkids had more patience than their parents and took the time to show their grandparents how to set up a profile page.  Who would have thought that helping Granny post her “status” would replace baking chocolate chip cookies as an inter-generational bonding activity? My favorite adult child teaching their parents how to navigate the tech world is Tech Savvy Daughter. Her family outgrew the need for her computer skills so now she kindly helps the rest of us! More senior centers and other areas where older adults gather have also gotten on board in terms of providing both computers and computer education programs. Companies like SeniorNet and Senior Surf are two that come to mind.

The need to problem-solve is an additional motivator for learning in later years. Knowing how to search the Internet for information in such areas as healthcare, travel arrangements and particularly Medicare questions is so important for seniors who want to remain independent. The issue of retaining independence as we age will certainly be enhanced by rapid technological advances in home monitoring and health devices. Products like Apple Interactive Care, Life Alert (“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”) and Philips Medication Dispensing Service have provided seniors living alone and their children at least some peace of mind.

But luckily (at least for now), my mother is very content using her iPod for pure entertainment. Rockin’ out to Frank Sinatra while she slings Angry Birds at those annoying little pigs.