Monday, 7 October 2013

Boomer Living - Where's the Pot of Gold?

I have been gnawing on the whole retirement thing for a few years. Where, when, how? Today I listened to an interview with a Canadian author, Lindsay Green (and bought her book - thank you Kindle - The Perfect Home for a Long Life) and found myself stopped cold hearing her say out loud what many of my peers whisper to each other - most of us over the age of 65 are more afraid of living in a nursing home than dying.

Over the past year, I have spent many weekends dashing around the world (albeit, only in my mind!) and trying to find a cheap, warm place to spend my retirement.  I usually end up back at home wondering if we can make it work in our own little house.  I have actually downsized and upsized twice in the last 10 years and can say without a doubt that anticipating another move is short lived excitement at best.  Temporary insanity based only on the "idea" of getting to decorate a new space, or simplifying my life with less, or just moving to a new, exotic locale where it would feel like a permanent vacation sets in and for a few hours I immerse myself in the search for nirvana.  Right about the time when I think I have discovered that it would be cheap to grab a long-term rental in Spain or safe to go to Osoyoos, BC, I head upstairs for a quick cup of tea, look at the familiarity of my little urban space and say, "Na", and go back to square one - where is that perfect retirement abode - my self-defined pot of gold?

Weighing the wealth and health aspects in a little heavily (you have to admit they are shiny and tangible!), I sometimes forget the value of a community.  My oldest daughter commented recently (when I was sharing another idea of moving away to retire more cheaply in a warmer climate - I think it was in the Okanagan that particular day) and said an interesting thing:  "But Mom, who would be there to take you to your Doctor appointments and make sure you had groceries."  Once I got over the offensive vision that popped into my head - you know that one of the old you, hobbling with cane or walker in place, depending on a younger, more mobile daughter or care giver supporting your elbow, or worse yet, wiping the drool from your chin when visiting you in the nursing home - I chastised her for putting me into a nursing home too quickly (at which she just smiled - her only defense that works with me in my moods!) and then I moved on to a more palatable subject.

I did, however, carry her comment and my vision into my next foray into retirement planning.  Assuming that Raouf and I age at the same speed, who indeed would take me to my appointments?  I remember how often my sister accompanied our mom to her medical appointments or shopping trips and frequently she raved on about her friends and their escapades and realized that, of all the things my mom valued the most in her final years, I believe the highest one was that connection - knowing that there was someone close by who cared about her - not just cared for her.

Since I keep landing back on home turf, I realize I have flirted with the idea of aging in place more often than not - maybe renting out space that I really don't need so I can finance the travelling I really do need (....want) and staying close to family and friends.  Aging in place has definite appeal even though the weather is not one of the plus points.  I also recognize that wealth and health are important aspects of retirement but, possibly, even more important, is a community of caring, loving people - family and familiar friends. According to Lindsay Green, you can pay someone to care for you but you can't pay someone to care about you.  It has made me re-think my planning.

Since I come from a family with strong genes leaning toward longevity, the flirtation has to come to an end and the relationship with retirement needs to take on a more serious form.  I have just over 1050 days before I plan on retiring - time to plan, re-invent, sculpt, define, discover and DECIDE!

So, my first step is to invite you to weigh in on your own experience - what did you think was important that really was (or wasn't} and how did you decide where you would live?  You are my community - that pot of gold may look different for all of us but - rainbow or not - we are all on the same ark floating in the same direction!  I would love to hear about your plans, your final destination  (if you have already arrived) or are you still on the journey?  Whether you are still running after rainbows or are fortunate enough to be sailing into your chosen sunset - your voice is important!

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