Senior Housing and Active Adults
Define Active Adult
My sister just finished a triathlon. Meanwhile, I spent a few hours in the garden while my adult son was out fishing on the lake. Define active adult.
We know staying active is good for our mental and physical well-being. But what does staying active mean to you? What do you expect from an active day or an active life?
Folks at the MIT AgeLab are working hard to understand the way our bodies age and how we can best help ourselves and each other stay active for a healthy life. It makes me feel assured that the smarties at MIT are working on it for me.
They are not the only ones trying to prepare us for retirement and our aging bodies. Thousands of builders and housing developers across the country are preparing for the housing needs of the baby boomers and the generations to follow them into old age. Some specialize in home modifications for aging-in-place and others will attract you to their retirement communities.
If a “55-plus community” sounds exactly like what you want, make sure visit before you buy. It does make a lot of sense to move into a community designed for your aging body and social needs. Nobody wants to be isolated. And how convenient for you, if the place you live also provides your physical and mental health needs like activities and clubs and groups to join.
One-Size Doesn’t Fit All
A newly retired 55-year-old couple has different activity needs than an 80-year-old widower. You might be committed to aging-in-place; this is a growing and powerful trend today.
On the other hand, many look forward to joining a retirement community. Yet, many housing developments and retirement communities lump us all together. Sara Kyle specializes in senior living engagement, and she cautions us not to over-simplify the senior’s needs and interests. Her company LE3solutions helps senior living communities provide customized content to their residents. Because throwing up a few condos and adding weekly Yoga classes with a Monday night book group and Sunday church services might not be right for every retiree.
So, what is an Active Adult and how can we make sure that we are not signing up for a one-size fits all living community? Chuck Sudo provides some interesting statistics in his article for Senior Housing News “What is an Active Adult: Developers Must Gain Clarity on Consumer Profiles”.
Joseph Coughlin, “Unicorns, Active Adults & Other Mythological Creatures In The Longevity Economy’s Real Estate Sector”, offers some examples of what activities might appeal to one retiree but not another:
- Part-time work
- Memberships like Rotary and Lion’s Club
- College Classes
The attitudes and experiences of individuals in the Boomer generation versus the Gen X’ers can be vastly different. A retirement community geared towards a Boomer retiree may not appeal at all to a Gen X’er. So why would you assume their idea of Active Adult would be the same?
Role of DME
Durable Medical Equipment is an important element of any retirement community, but also any retirement strategy. If you want to be an active adult, and most of us would say “YES” to that, then you will need DME at some point along your journey. After all, retirement is now often 1/3 of your life span! Good news, but we need to pay attention, so we get the most out of it.
Planning can be important. For example, talk to your doctor now – if you have circulatory issues. You might want to begin using compression therapy to move that all important blood through your limbs.
Arthritis is another condition that can affect anyone. Even those among us who have been physically active for years, can suffer from osteoarthritis in those well-used joints. Again, talk to your doctor about compression therapy or even some hot and cold treatment to ease joint pain.
If staying active means avoiding injury, then be sure you are realistic about your mobility needs. The MIT AgeLab has a great tool – AGNES – for understanding the normal aging process on mobility skills like range of motion. Maybe long walks are not an option for you anymore because you get fatigued. Consider a mobility scooter with an 8-mile range to help you get around when you want to be out for the day.
The DME industry is always innovating. We strive to stay abreast of the latest products so you don’t have to. Brands like Nova and Handicare and Pride continue to upgrade products to help you live well in your home or retirement space.
Partner with your local DME company. Get to know the products and services they offer. Talk to your doctor about your ideal situation to stay active in retirement. Bring your family into the conversation so they can understand what your goals are. Research shows that people who are physically active and socially connected live longer, healthier, and happier lives. But we did not need research to tell us that.