What makes a life worth living well into our later years?
The answer to that question—as unique for each of us as our fingerprints—is regarded as the secret to happiness. And in our senior years, each of us can find the answer by looking inside ourselves to identify our passion and then choosing a senior housing community that will enable that passion to flourish.
Rossmoor, an active-senior-adult community in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Walnut Creek, CA, is a good example of just such a place. It offers an affordable yet high quality of life where seniors can engage and focus in ways that help them achieve happiness through what psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has defined as “flow.”
Flow is a feeling that athletes often describe as being “in the zone.” I feel it when I am working with a passionate entrepreneur or a bright student. My father found it hanging out with his buddies in the Sons in Retirement or sinking a chip shot from off the green. My mother found it scoring a good seat for bingo, acing a serve, or tossing her walker aside while bounding up the casino steps.
Over the last 100 years, life expectancy has gone from an average age of 47 to well into the 70s, according to Dr. Joe Coughlin, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab. Seniors, or people over 65, are now the fastest growing demographic, a phenomenon Coughlin refers to as a “Longevity Miracle.”
“You’ve now gained 30-40 years of life,” Coughlin said. “And you’re just sitting there? The challenge is, what are we going to be able to do with those longer years?”
Keys to Quality of Life
- A safe, clean, natural environment encourages older adults to get out and about.
- Access to affordable, reliable transportation, along with safe streets and sidewalks, facilitates active lifestyles.
- Family and community connections ensure “psychological safety” as we age.
- Social participation and engagement are key elements of a happy and healthy living environment.
- Accessible buildings and a variety of activities appealing to a wide array of interests foster healthy community interaction.
- Of course, access to affordable health care is of utmost importance.
- Finally, the respect shown to older people in the community is something to consider. Are older people actively represented in the local government? Does the average citizen in the community respect older people? Are there ways for economically disadvantaged seniors to enjoy access to public facilities and volunteer services?
Given that 40% of baby boomers have less than $40,000 in savings, we have to look for cost-effective housing. Rossmoor has home-buying options starting at around $100,000, and some residents choose to lease. At the highest end of the spectrum are single-family homes and garden condominiums selling for more than $1 million.
The Rossmoor Community
As one in three boomers are now moving to a new home in retirement, finding a place that will facilitate flow is key. When we retire, we need to remind ourselves (or even rediscover) who we are. In many ways it is like going to college again. If we are lucky, we have a passion for something that we discover or rekindle.
I have discovered a passion for flowers and flower arranging that lifts my spirits and makes hours pass unnoticed. I had always been interested in flowers, but I didn’t realize how fun they could be until my 60s! Your passion may be something you don’t even know about yet!
My father’s passion for golf taught me that golf is a lifetime of joy, challenge and camaraderie. Golf is perfect for finding flow. Rossmoor boasts two challenging, highly rated golf courses.
Seniors are finding that exercise lifts the spirits and improves their health. Rossmoor’s modern fitness center is the perfect place to kindle a passion for exercise with free weights, exercise machines, exercise and aerobics classes, three pools, and staff trained to assist with special needs.
Those with passion for fine dining and entertainment will be thrilled with Rossmoor’s Creekside Grill, where they can listen to live music and enjoy the delicious American cuisines of Executive Chef Jose Luis Campos. The food is excellent and reasonable, with a wide variety of both healthy and sinful options.
Rossmoor’s three pools provide a range of options for those of us with a passion for the water: The Hillside Pool is a full-size all-purpose exercise pool, heated to 83 degrees Fahrenheit; The Dollar Pool or “social pool” is kept at 88 degrees; and The Del Valle Pool is indoors and includes pools heated to 83 and 88 degrees, with a large 102-degree spa.
Whatever your passion, you’re sure to find like-minded folks in one of Rossmoor’s more than 200 clubs and organizations whose members participate in myriad activities ranging from hiking, lawn bowling, table tennis, bocce, tennis and triathlon to hosting meetings, dances, lectures, parties and excursions.