Friday, December 28, 2007

Choosing a Retirement Community

Many senior adults like me think about retirement long before we apply for our social security retirement income. We go on vacation with an eye on retirement communities and resorts wondering what it might be like to actually live there for good. Downsizing to a condominium, patio home or a 55 and over apartment can be a logical move for most seniors.

Before making that big commitment some factors are worth looking into:

  • Geographic location: Is the climate suitable, especially for your health? Persons with asthma, arthritis, or other medical conditions may want to make sure the climate is conducive to their health. Will you like it in the off season when it is too cold or too hot, too dry or too wet? Is it close to loved ones? Many of us may choose to be close to grandchildren and close family members or be within driving distance.
  • Real estate professionals: Once you decide on a geographic location for a retirement community, it is valuable to hire a good real estate agent and have access to legal counsel. Good real estate professionals have knowledge of the area, comparable costs of homes, and other information not readily available to the buyer. A lawyer can read through the contract and give important legal advice. A house inspector is invaluable in looking below the surface and preventing costly surprises after the purchase.
  • Evaluating a retirement community: Is it close to grocery stores, health care providers, shopping centers, and recreational activities? What is the age mix and ambiance of the community? Is it compatible with your lifestyle? How secure is the home, condominium, or apartment building and the community in general? Talking to potential neighbors can be very informative.
  • Before making the purchase: It is important to understand some planned retirement community requirements. Condominiums and planned communities are often governed by homeowner (HOA) or property owner association (POA) rules and regulations. These are legal entities, often non-profit and organized for the purpose of maintaining the retirement community standards. These are often governed by conditions, covenants and restrictions (CCR) These associations may collect dues for maintenance of community infrastructure. Remember that association dues will continue long after the mortgage is paid for. Check the association debts, reserve fund, how often dues are raised and special assessments levied. What do amenities cover? Check covenants and restrictions and make sure you can live with them. ( Examples include restrictions on fences, outside paint colors, pet areas, placement of satellite dish, yard decorations, etc.)
Chosen well, a retirement community can be very practical, fun and enhancing to one's later life.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Venus, a Movie of Love, Friendship, and Being Old

Venus, a movie released in December 2006, is a wonderful poignant vehicle for Peter O'Toole, who once again engages us with an unforgettable performance. Portraying Maurice, an aging, has been actor relegated to bit parts ( such as corpses), O'Toole generates a charming character.Once a ladies man and not too responsible husband, he now spends his days in coffee shops with similarly aging has been actor friend, Ian ( Leslie Phillips.) Into their lives come Venus (Jodie Whitaker), Ian's niece from the country, sent to the city to look after Ian while looking for a modeling job. She quickly disrupts Ian's and Maurice's lives with her narcissistic, self-absorbed , flirtatious lifestyle. She becomes a catalyst for Maurice' coming alive once again as he relentlessly pursues his growing infatuation. Sadly, she tantalizes him with simple pleasures such as allowing him to touch her bare shoulders for which he is immensely grateful. He, in turn, showers her with presents , pays for her tattoo, and takes her to movies sets and museums.

We are reminded how love is alive at any age. Love and sex remain a vital part of many older adult couples. The August 2007 volume of the New England Journal of Medicine contains the University of Chicago's National Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) which shows that there is only slight decline in sexual activity from age 50 to 70 and that older adults can and do participate in sexual activity well into their 80's. Dr. Stacy Tesser Lindauer reports that health rather than age is a bigger factor in sexual function.

The need for touch is a universal need at any age. Little wonder that there is that bond between grandchildren and grandparents, children having no qualms about hugging nana or poppa or touching their faces. Children do not see age as a barrier.

The movie moves us to think through very difficult issues of aging and the universal fear of facing the end of our lives alone. It looks at friendships, among men and peers, between Maurice and his ex-wife ( played by Vanessa Redgrave.) The actors' masterful performance, subtly draws us to look into our own future and the inevitability of growing old. O'Toole is perfect in the role, ( maybe as good as inLawrence of Arabia.) And Whitaker holds her own as the characters take us to their transformation. Even as Venus selfishly takes advantage of Maurice' infatuation, we see Maurice, an old man come alive at the end of his days and Venus evolve into a more caring woman.

This is a thought provoking movie. Watch the movie for Peter O'Toole. Watch the movie for yourself.


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