Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to Cope with Death and Grief

As we age, we all face the fact that there is a finish line looming up ahead.  At some point, we will need to not only accept our own impending death, but also the deaths of those we love.  As much as we don't like to think about these events, it can be helpful to have a better understanding of how to cope with death when the situation arises.

Recognize the Five Stages of Grief

In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross interviewed hundreds of dying patients, and used the results to write a book called "On Death and Dying." (available from Amazon).  In her landmark book, she listed what she considered the five stages of grief that most people will experience.  She learned that, while everyone will experience at least some of the stages, not everyone will experience all of them.  She also noticed that some people may spend a long time alternating between just two or three of the stages.  It may also take certain people much longer to reach the final stage of acceptance than others.

Whether you are facing your own death, or coping with the death of a loved one, it is important to understand and recognize the different stages of grief that we might be experiencing.  The stages are:

Denial -- refusing to admit that anything is wrong.

Anger -- raging against God, doctors or anything that may have contributed to the health problem.

Bargaining -- begging your Higher Power for more time; promising to change future behavior.

Depression -- feeling helpless, hopeless and despondent. 

Acceptance -- willingness to prepare for the inevitable, including finalizing plans, writing letters to those who will be left behind, talking about your good memories, etc.

Accepting the Inevitability of Death

Death is something we will all have to face at one time or another ... whether it is our own death, or that of a loved one.  Most of us will experience at least some of these stages of grief.  It is helpful to understand what we are going through, and realize that we will eventually pass through these different stages and reach acceptance, no matter how hard that may be to believe.

Once we reach the stage of acceptance, we can begin to take constructive action.  If you are the person who has been told you have a terminal disease, you may want to read my article called:

Redesigning Death - Bringing Joy to Your Final Days

This article offers a number of tips on how you can change the mood surrounding your death, so that you can make things easier for yourself and your loved ones.

If the death is that of a loved one, it can sometimes be even more difficult to reach the stage of acceptance.  The article on Redesigning Death is also a good way to open up the conversation about how to celebrate that person's life, rather than focus on their death ... as hard as that may be to think about.

If someone you care about is experiencing the death of someone they love, be patient with them and recognize that it may take some time to go through the various stages of grief.  There is no way to hurry the process.  The best things you can do for your friend is to be there for them, listen, and let them take their time processing the situation.

If you are interested in more articles of interest to Baby Boomers, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page for links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog: http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo courtesy of morguefile. com

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Keeping Romance Alive After 60

Last night my husband took me on a date to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  He wouldn't tell me why we were going to a cemetery on a date, or what we were doing there until we pulled into the gates and found a parking spot near the graves.  He wanted the evening he had carefully planned to be a surprise!

We were there to see the actor, Val Kilmer perform in a one man show called "Citizen Twain,"  a play about humorist Mark Twain. Val Kilmer wrote, directed, produced and was the sole performer in the play ... although he was accompanied at times by four live musicians.  He was performing his play at the cemetery because, as he pointed out, Mark Twain is dead!  The Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California also has a nice, private upstairs theater that seats about 220 - 250 people.  Val Kilmer strolled up and down the aisles and mingled with the audience as he performed, so nearly everyone was able to see well and feel close in these intimate surroundings.

The Element of Surprise can Enhance Your Marriage

My husband and I had never been to such a unique performance, and definitely had never been to a play at a cemetery.  Even though we are both in our 60's, this was a first for both of us ... which is exactly what my husband wanted.  Although we have been married over 40 years, he still likes to surprise me with special dates that are unique and interesting. 

On another occasion, he took me to a mystery dinner theater, where the wait staff were all members of the cast.  After the lights were momentarily dimmed, we watched in mock horror as one member of the cast was found "dead" on the dining room floor.  All of our waiters and waitresses were suspects.  Slowly, the dinner guests unraveled the mystery.  It was delightful.

My husband has also surprised me with concert tickets, tickets to musicals, and dinners at unusual restaurants.  He doesn't plan a major surprise every month; only, perhaps, once or twice a year.  However, when he does, it is always a delight.

Find Ways to Bring Fun into Your Marriage

There are other ways that a couple can enjoy fun activities together.  Perhaps you like to travel, go camping, sailing or walking on the beach.  Do you share a love of great food, animals, or artwork?

When elderly couples are interviewed and asked the reason for their long marriages, they nearly always say that it is important to have a sense of humor.  More than anything, it is important to find activities that make you laugh together.

Laughter seems to be closely entwined with romance.  Having fun should be a focus of every couple.

Snuggle Frequently

Of course, it is also romantic to hug, kiss, snuggle and engage in all the forms of physical contact that the two of you enjoy.  Couples who never touch frequently grow apart. 

Sometimes, in our busy lives, we can fall into a routine that makes us feel like we are living with a roommate rather than a romantic partner.  Every couple should take the time to, at the very least, kiss and hug as often as possible.

Do Not Forget Romantic Occasions

Few things can damage that romantic feeling more than a forgotten anniversary, birthday, Valentine's Day or special occasion.  While those days may not seem like a big deal to you, they can be very important to your partner. 

You don't have to make a big deal out of every holiday.  However, it is important to acknowledge them as an opportunity to show your love and appreciation for your partner ... even if it is only with a homemade card or drugstore box of candy.

Marriages Should Not Become Dull and Stagnant

My point is that marriage and other relationships do not have to become stale and stagnant after a couple has been together a long time.  You can still find ways to keep your romance alive and feeling new.  It is never too late to come up with a romantic surprise of your own!

For additional ideas about enjoying life after sixty, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page for links to hundreds of additional articles on changing family relationships, where to retire, financial planning and more.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.com

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Finding Niche Retirement Communities

Most large retirement communities are designed to appeal to a large number of people with diverse interests.  For example, Laguna Woods Village, the retirement community where I live, has horseback riding (as shown in this photo I took a few days ago from the back of horse).  It also has golf, tennis, parties and much more. 

However, what if you could choose a niche retirement community that is designed to attract a specific group of people ... people who are more like you and share your specific interests and hobbies?  Today, this is one of the exciting new trends in retirement communities.

What is a Niche or Affinity Retirement Community?

These new retirement communities are catered specifically to people who have common interests or traits.  For example, retirement communities that target intellectuals are being built near many universities.  There are communities for Asian Americans, and at least one for Baby Boomers who enjoy recreational vehicles.  There are communities specifically for the gay and lesbian community, as well as communities for people who are interested in art and music. Sometimes these niche communities are referred to as affinity communities.

How do you find these communities? 

How to Find a Niche Retirement Community

Here are a few companies that either currently meet these specialized needs or are planning new affinity communities in the coming years

Aegis Living:  for Asian-Americans

Oakmont Senior Living: for Gays and Lesbians, and Korean-Americans

RainbowVision community: Gays and Lesbians

Escapees CARE: assisted living for RVers

PANDAbare: building a nudist assisted living facility

Burbank Senior Artists Colony: for actors, artists, and writers

Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame: university-based retirement near one of our nation's premier Catholic universities.

Retirement with an Equestrian Facility: Laguna Woods Village in California is the only one I have run across.  The photo above shows one of its trail rides.  People have moved to this community from states like Montana and Colorado in order to retire someplace where they can bring their horses with them.

Should You Move into a Niche Retirement Community?

Niche retirement communities are not for everyone.  Sometimes people long for more diversity, and a broader range of activities.  In other cases, some of the niche retirement communities may be exceptionally expensive.  However, if you have a specific need, you may want to look for niche communities in the area where you want to retire. 

If you know of a niche retirement community that you believe might interest others, please feel free to mention it in the comments section below.  My readers will appreciate your thoughtful suggestions.

If you are looking for articles on more retirement communities, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of other articles on topics of interest to retirees.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo by author

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Retirement Community Amenities - Which are Best For You?

When you think about retirement communities, what kinds of amenities would you like to have?  You may be surprised to discover that you have a wide variety of choices in nearly every region of the country.

Within just five miles of my home, there are many different types of retirement communities, and they each have a diverse menu of amenities and services that they offer.

Active Adult Communities for 55+ Senior Citizens

One of the most popular types of places for people over the age of 55 to live is an active adult community.  This may consist of single family homes, townhouses, or condominiums.  The residents all live independently in their own residences and participate in their choice of activities.  

For example, our community of Laguna Woods Village offers golf, horseback riding, tennis, five swimming pools, two gyms with trainers, art studios, a live theater, dance classes, bridge, parties, and over 200 clubs.  Some residents have chosen to live in our area because it is one of the few retirement communities in the United States that contains its own equestrian center and riding trails.  We often attract retirees from Colorado and Montana who bring along their horses and board them at the stables.

However, our community does not offer skilled nursing care, memory care or any of the amenities that you might need as you get older; nor does it provide residents with meals or similar services.  In addition, the homeowners dues are unusually high because of the number of activities that are provided at no charge or for a very low fee.

Senior Apartment Communities

There is one highrise senior apartment community, called the Towers, within the gates of Laguna Woods Village that does provide some additional services ... dinner every night and weekly maid service.  The average age in this building is approximately age 88.  However, even this facility within our gated community does not include nursing care.  It is an independent living senior apartment complex.  You can find senior apartments throughout the United States.  In addition to luxury ones, many cities have low income housing for seniors that would generally fall into this category.

Another senior adult apartment complex in our area is just a few feet outside the gated community of Laguna Woods Village.  It is called San Sebastian.  This building is very new and modern.  It has gorgeous apartments, beautiful pools, frequent parties, and a gym.  The building is very secure.  Although the facilities are very appealing, the residents cannot use the golf course, tennis courts or other amenities inside the gates of Laguna Woods Village, just a few feet from their door. 

What the Towers and San Sebastian have in common is that they are both apartment complexes that are designed specifically for senior citizens.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

There are also a large number of other types of senior residences in the area surrounding our community.  They are called Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs.  

The ones in our neighborhood have names like Freedom Village, The Wellington, The Regency and Whispering Fountains.  They provide the residents with a private room or senior apartment, three meals a day, and full use of their facilities. Most of them provide private bus service to shuttle the residents around to shopping centers, doctors appointments, the theater and other activities.  They hold parties and have exercise classes, putting greens, hot tubs, and bridge groups. Many of them also have different levels of care ... independent living residential apartments, assisted living (for those just needing a little help), skilled nursing facilities, physical therapy,  memory care facilities, etc. 

The price you pay for a CCRC depends on the level of care you need.  I have known people who have a chronic illness or other future health concerns who wanted to move to these types of facilities while they were still active and capable of taking care of themselves.  It was reassuring for them to know that they would never have to move again if they became weak or incapacitated.

Which Type of Retirement Community Amenities are Right for You?

What type of facility do you want or need?  Before you buy into a retirement community, give a lot of thought to your future needs.  If you are comfortable with the idea of living in one place now, and moving into a residential facility with a higher level of care later, then you may want to select an active adult resort type community like Laguna Woods Village.  If you have a serious illness or feel your health slipping away, you might want to select a place that will care for you for the rest of your life.

Neither choice is better than the other.  Only you can decide which types of amenities will best suit your needs.  However, these are some of the issues you will want to consider before you make up your mind about where you want to live.  Once you do decide, relax and enjoy your new living situation.  All of these retirement communities have plenty of activities to keep you busy and entertained!

If you are interested in learning more about where to live after retirement, financial planning, medical issues that can arise, changing family relationships and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

photo taken by author while horseback riding in Laguna Woods Village, California