Retirement Communities: The Myth of Slowing Down
For many of you, retirement communities may bring a few associations immediately to mind. Some may think of quiet days, seated card games, or long rests, with retirement perceived as a required slowing down of life.
So, it might be surprising to find out that retirement is only as slow as you want it to be. Between volunteering, hobbies, relationships, added family time, and travel, your calendar can fill up as much as you do or don’t want it to.
Retirement: How Do You Want to Spend Your Time?
Have you ever had a list of activities, goals, or places that you’ve always wanted to try, but had too full a schedule of family and work commitments? Turns out, with family members living independently and no employment expectations and requirements, retirement is a great time to take out that list and solidify your plans. And Era Living retirement communities offer not just freedom from all of the work of home upkeep, but many fun, interesting, and invigorating ways to spend that energy and time
For example, back in November of 2018, we dispelled the myth that retirement in senior living communities means losing your favorite hobbies. On the contrary, the opportunities for personal growth and creativity can be even more accessible, since they may be as nearby as the community lobby. Gardening and book clubs, cooking classes, and walking groups are easy to join and try out. Volunteer activities offer a social outlet and community connection. And with access to courses with nationally recognized experts and authors and fine arts classes taught by MFA-level instructors, the learning never has to stop. Not only can you find ways to continue your own hobbies in your new home, but there’s a plethora of new ones to try.
Your Interests, Your Schedule
At Era Living’s eight retirement communities, educational, cultural, and health improvement opportunities run the gamut. Discussion groups offer the setting for meaningful conversations and sharing of ideas about men’s and women’s issues, current events, and local or national concerns. Lectures and courses covering a variety of topics are accessible through Era Living’s partnership with the University of Washington and the Osher Institute. Interested in arts and society? Sophisticated art classes, professionally curated art displays, and museum tours offer advanced, fine-arts-level exposure and learning. And there are always outings to sporting events and historical and architectural attractions. Finally, the evidence-informed exercise programs, including tai chi, yoga, and Enhance® Fitness classes, all complement and strengthen older bodies—helping maintain health and energy for as much activity as you want.
But retirement looks different for different people. Some prefer to have as few time requirements as possible, going somewhere only when they decide they want to. Others crave commitments to structure their days and expand their social circles.
In creating your retirement schedule, it can help to consider a few factors. After adding obligations like healthcare appointments and family events, you can decide how you feel when your calendar is loosely or fully packed. How social do you want to be? How much downtime do you need each day, or each week? Do you have any goals for the year? Whatever you’d like to do (or not do), retirement offers more flexibility to prioritize your time based on what you want to get out of it.
And in retirement, you also have the time to discover abilities and interests you didn’t know you had, whether they be creative, social, or intellectual. In Make Today Count, leadership coach John Maxwell writes that when you accomplish something you didn’t know was possible, it changes the way you see yourself and the world. With more free time and a variety of new opportunities, there are more chances to try something you’ve always been curious about—chances to change your perspective.
But You Can Slow Down Too, If That’s What You Need
That’s not to say that slowing down in retirement is entirely mythical. But even when it’s true, it presents an opportunity to learn about yourself. Decreased activity in retirement can be in response to health needs, or it can mean simply enjoying the lack of fewer obligations. But it can also help you realize how being active—or inactive—makes you feel, and it gives you the opportunity to make changes.
On NextAvenue.org, the author of “Downshifting from a Life in Overdrive” notices her decreased energy for the demanding job she once loved, and wonders if this is a result of impending retirement, or if she’s moving toward retirement because she is slowing down. She decides, though, that in not rushing through the days, we can allow for the chance for new things to arise.
Come see for yourself what active and relaxed retirement looks like at Era Living! Not only are our residents active, social, and vibrant, but they are leading full lives full of volunteer work, social visits, exercise, and exploration.