What Lies Ahead?

Outdoor exercise facility for seniors

Ten years ago, when I retired at age 59, I had lots of plans. I wanted to travel! Since I was a girl, I have longed for different places and for opportunities to live my life independently. I was healthy, active and financially secure. During the first five years, I travelled and I fulfilled my lifelong dream of living in Paris. I visited and revisited my favourite spots, made friends in different places and contributed to projects that supported literacy in Mexico. Retirement and my 60's were a good time for me.

For the last 5 years, I have travelled a bit less and I have resumed my teaching career on a part-time basis. Covid has temporarily (?) put an end to travel and I'm not sure what solo travel in one's 70's might look like. While I had lots of plans for the last decade, I see challenges for the decade ahead.

flowers in our parking lot garden

As I stay home more, I look to my neighbourhood for beauty, inspiration and recreation. I'm still working the parking lot gardens. Did you know that there is a gardening term for them? Hellstrips...People toss garbage in them and drive over them. I'm trying to create low-cost, drought resistant areas throughout our complex. The Greenthumbs garden volunteers have mostly died or gone to live in a facility, so the work is undertaken by only a few. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon cutting back overgrown plants, weeding and adding some modest perennials to the gardens. 

mural on the side of our community centre

During the last decade, some family members have died and others have become frail or had their health severely compromised. Some of this has been due to age but some of it has just been misfortune. In anticipation of my next decade of life, I have begun a programme of physical preparation.

Mobility is one of the greatest challenges in the senior years. I am working with my trainer to maintain mobility and to improve posture. Those aging muscles need to be worked regularly. Fortunately, I live across the street from the community centre. It is a 14 minute walk!

A community centre is a community! I know the names of the fitness attendants and of the other seniors who work out at 8:30 in the morning. Next week, we are going to work with Nordic poles. With Covid precautions, we all wear masks, distance and sanitize equipment. Older adults trying their best to live healthy lives in a challenging time.

Have you heard of NORC's? Naturally occurring retirement communities? I listened to a CBC Radio discussion and realized that this was a likely blueprint for my next decade. I live in a large residential complex (411 units) where at least 40% of the residents are over age 50. With two swimming pools, a small community library, and large clubhouse, we have plenty of opportunities to socialize (in non-pandemic times).There is a park with a pitch and put golf course and a community centre across the street and two churches within walking distance. I am perfectly situated for aging in place. 





Comments

  1. I had not heard of NORCs but they sound like a good place to age. Socialization is so important as we get older - more important even than good health and finances. I admire your commitment to keeping those community gardens going! Enjoy the beautiful sunshine this long weekend.

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    1. I learned that the term was first used in the 1980's by an urban planner in the United States. In some cases, a grant is provided to support activities or to pay a convenor. My mother has become extremely isolated since my father and most of her friends have died. Although everyone is not a "joiner", everyone needs a support community as they grow old.

      While I was researching this, I discovered a co-op radio show (hosted by a former colleague) about OASIS , a NORC in a rental apartment building in Kingston, Ontario.

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