Let Joy Guide Your Choices in 55+ Housing
When you let joy guide your choices in 55+ and senior housing, it is possible not only to ‘get through’ the downsizing or move to a retirement home, but to thrive.
We’ve all seen or experienced the challenges of ‘giving up’ a home of 40 or 50 years … the emotional pathways of ‘downsizing’ to an apartment, introverts feeling ‘forced’ to socialize in a communal setting. I propose that we start to feel, talk and act differently in preparing for this stage of life.
It’s easy to worry and natural to feel a sense of loss in transitioning out of a longtime home; without doubt, it’s important to recognize and honor these feelings.
Sidestep one-size-fits all housing
Yet it is possible to also acknowledge the gains: The ease of not having to maintain an older home, the convenience of living near a favorite recreational pursuit; perhaps, the relaxation of not having to cook dinner every night. But I’m not talking about semantics or silver linings.
I’m talking about real, tangible, structural adaptations.
As an architect, I help people create, modify or develop housing that allows them to focus on what they most enjoy.
Sadly, I also meet people after they’ve made what they later realize were the wrong choices for themselves or their loved ones.
So, by ‘act differently,’ I mean let’s get away from one-size-fits-all housing. Maybe you need a larger dining area rather than that extra bedroom. If you love being with your friends, perhaps consider staying close rather than moving to the lake. Maybe it’s even possible to adapt your current home so that you can age in place.
Answer these 5 questions about retirement living
Here are five things to consider as you plan your 55+ or retirement lifestyle:
- How important to you are your community connections?
- You may be drawn to a new home in the Hill Country; is that more significant than being able to meet your friends without driving over an hour each way?
- Many clients adapt their homes to age in place because being a part of their community is so important for them and they realize this before leaving it.
- For those building a new home or developing senior housing, doing so within the community makes it possible for those who value that community to thrive and even enjoy life more than ever.
- Does your life center around family fun? If you love to cook and to host gatherings, yet plan to downsize into a cottage, there are ways you can open up that space to ensure that this joyful part of your life continues in your retirement lifestyle.
- What are your top three personal values? Don’t lose sight of these as you consider an exciting new house or community. Your values show up in how you spend your time. For example:
- Some couples love to travel or play golf and prefer a low-maintenance new home.
- Others have their grandchildren in their home every day; for them it is important to look at the flow of family rooms and convertible spaces.
- Still others have a hobby like woodworking or gardening; even housing developers can differentiate their projects from the competition by featuring access to nature, community gardens or a shared workshop or studio space. Another bonus – continuing to enjoy familiar interests helps introverts to socialize in a more relaxed way.
- What if your life holds new adventures? Some retirees decide to start a new business, completely unrelated to the corporate career they just left behind; others remarry.Consider whether your environment adequately supports this exciting next chapter. For instance: does your home accommodate a growing, blended family? Is there sufficient space to operate that business from home, or does the neighborhood have a co-working space that you can utilize?
- What does ‘coming home’ mean to you? Before you say ‘walking into my old house,’ ask yourself what exactly … sitting in a familiar chair while you watch the game? Having your flower pots outside the kitchen window? When the whole world is ‘going’ – faster and faster, it seems – how can you create an oasis, perhaps even more enjoyable than the home you are transitioning out of?
Come home to a retirement lifestyle that suits you
Often, the word ‘joy’ is paired with another that has as many meanings as there are people in the world. And that word is ‘comfort.’ Think about what it means to you. Today, there are more possibilities than ever before to achieve it.