Well the obvious one is that I can’t wait to retire, but since I have quite a few years before that happens I thought I would share some of my observations.
I went to visit my parents (both in their early 60’s) who have recently relocated from cold, snowy, dreary Buffalo NY, to what I call a “happy place.” After much research on their part they chose to move to “The Villages” in Florida. For those of you who are not familiar, this place has everything and has over 70,000 residents. Its absolutely beautiful and I got to swim outside on Christmas day for the first time ever, but that’s beside the point.
Here is what I think:
1. Sunshine makes a difference – I say this because I thought my parents have actually lost weight since I have seen them last. Why? Because they walk the dog around the neighborhood instead of letting him out the back door into a fenced yard like they used to. And because the weather is nice they walk to their mailbox. (Which round trip is 1.6 miles which I didn’t realize until after I agreed to go, I was huffing and puffing..) Not to mention that the days are longer and dreary gloomy winter days lead to depression, or at least (especially in the case of places where the snow is big) you are not trapped in your house.
2. You are only as bored as you want to be – I saw so many activities and clubs and golf and swimming and tennis and shopping and working and exercising going on it was unbelievable. If you can’t find something to do then you only have yourself to blame. There is even a rollerblading club and the instructor is 85.
3. No Falling – Well, you can still fall (anywhere) but when your home has no stairs and there is no ice to slip on outside you are less likely to fall. Do you know how many people I help because the fall and the broken hip set off a chain of events?
4. Never underestimate the benifits of socialization – They have already made a bunch of new friends so while they may miss family and old friends, (as if we aren’t going to visit there as opposed to Buffalo as much as possible) they certainly are not lacking for people to talk to. Even when you are swimming in the pool, the people you don’t know will talk to you. Plus, if you get involved in a club, you are going to find other like minded people who share the same interests. And now mom & dad don’t have to depend on each other for someone to talk to. Loneliness = Depression. I really see that up here when people are isolated in their homes and friends have left.
5. Attitude is everything – My parents are so excited to be down there and it shows. They were acting like teenagers. Really. I can hardly get them on the phone because they are doing something
I also had the opportunity to visit with someone I worked with over 10 years ago when I worked at Nordstrom. She and her husband moved down there 3 years ago. When I walked in her door, I thought she looked younger than she did when I last worked with her! Not to mention I found out that she got very sick about a year ago – very sick – but here she was all recovered and better than ever. Now I would never tell you her age, but needless to say I know a few people in Chicago who are younger on paper but certainly not in looks or spirit.
I am so very happy that they have made this decision and I know it will add years to there lives and since they are my favorite people, I am very happy about that.
(I am going to go check some flights for Feb right now…. its going to be cold here…)