I don’t know how many of us would like to live full-time in Disney World, but most of us have some very fond memories of maybe the early days with the Mickey Mouse Club or a trip to one of their theme parks. But there is something new from the Imagineers of Disney, and it’s a senior residence designed for those 55 and older. The first of these “Storyliving Communities” is being built in California where they are preparing a community that in their terms “is a little more magical.” This is not a pitch for this megacorporation’s next big way to engage the market with a bit of fantasy. It’s my way of saying that as your older loved ones approach retirement and move into it, encourage them to “reimagine” the next phase of their lives. If you go to your search engine and type in “how to retire,” you will get a ton of advice on how to save, what are the financial vehicles and how much is considered enough to last…and of course, some tips on planning for long term care, etc.
But what about how to get to retirement and then find a life that can be fulfilling? Allow me to offer some suggestions for those nearing retirement to anticipate as well as for those already retired to perhaps do some rethinking and tweaking of their plans. Consider:
- Mind your diet so that you preserve your health and your quality of life.
- Plan and then refine a daily plan that keeps you busy – at your pace.
- It’s not a light switch…you can ease into retirement gradually.
- Exercise your mind as well as your body.
- Mind: take on a language, join a book club, embrace puzzles.
- Body: your personal record may be behind you, but set goals.
- Make new friends, join a club, volunteer for a good cause.
- Get to know your health care provider better…before an emergency.
- There are two ways to stop working – screaming or smiling.
- Don’t obsess…get professional help to let go, if need be.
- Keep your work friends…they’re still friends with whom you can share.
- Don’t make a bucket list…make a pamper yourself list.
- As we all look at relaxing travel restrictions…relax your own restrictions and get away.
- Invest in your community – lots of needs can reward your effort with lots of thanks.
It’s really easy to get caught up in what we can’t do as we once did, but don’t fall into that trap. If you need an excuse to do more walking, get a dog who will take you farther and show their appreciation in return. Try some new recipes, plant some new flora, see a new part of the world…and learn just enough of their language to immerse.
Charlotte Bishop is a Caregiver Coach, an Aging Life Care Advisor, a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.