Last year, Pat O’Donnell of Overland Park, Kansas, wrote for BoomerCafé about downsizing and moving with his wife to a new home in a retirement community for people our age. He likes it just fine, and has discovered what it takes to fit right in.
Well, it’s been seven months since we moved into our new apartment, and we are learning a few things. As a public service to those considering a move like this, I offer the following partially truthful observations.
For starters, suppose you enter and leave your apartment from an inside hallway and it has a shelf outside your door. In that case, you will need to decorate it with appropriate items based on the time of year or the nearest holiday. If you do not have a shelf, the door will do. Neglecting this may send a message that you are not the most friendly of neighbors. I have often wondered how much storage some of my neighbors require for their shelf decoration supplies.
Second, prepare yourself for tables with jigsaw puzzles at every turn. And yes, it is preferred that you find a piece or two to help complete the 1,000-piece puzzle, but be careful not to damage the work in progress. Not a good way to make new friends. Or keep old ones.
Do you like dogs? How about little dogs that yip instead of bark? And, when you go outside, be careful where you step because not everyone here can bend over far enough to clean up after their pets. One of my new neighbors uses what she calls a “pee pad,” so her “baby” does not need to brave the elements.
Seriously, the best part is making new friends. Have I mentioned how fast the glass recycling bin fills up? Some of my new neighbors gather for “socials” just before 4:00 p.m. We probably should dedicate one container exclusively to cork recycling.
Safety is paramount in this community of nearly 800 seniors. We have very loud fire alarm horns that go off on many occasions. Usually, when I want a nap. Makes me wonder if that is why we have an audiologist in the on-site clinic. We have a little “tab” on our door, which the security team closes every night at about midnight. They return the next day around noon to see if the “tab” has moved because your door has been opened. If it is still in the same position as last night, they enter to check on your well-being.
Our new community has more clubs than you can imagine. They have a club for people named Carol and let’s not forget the book club, golf club, garden club, pinochle, and every other card game club one can think of. If you have any tech-savvy, there’s the Wii Bowling Club. In addition to clubs, several support groups are available to those in need.
You quickly learn that some well-aged citizens have their favorite table in the dining room. Whoa-be-unto those who sit at someone else’s favorite table without permission. Eating with others is an excellent way to make friends. It is also a great way to identify those you wish to avoid in the future.
Retirement communities like ours are being developed around the country and offer active lifestyles for baby boomers. They come with additional amenities to keep us healthy, safe, and happy.
My advice if you’re ready is, check into one near you. Just don’t sit at the wrong table.