When people contemplate retirement, it can be both a joyous and stressful time in life. While part of you might be dreaming about having all the time in the world to travel and explore your true interests, you also might be nervous about what you would do if you don’t have to get up for work in the morning.
The roller-coaster stock market can make even those most prepared for retirement nervous about finances, of course, and what might happen if you or your spouse gets sick. This causes a lot of people to put off retirement decisions for as long as possible, and in some cases, this choice can lead to regret.
For example, my father-in-law, who I’ll call Joe for the sake of this blog, loved his job. He has long defined himself by his work, and he has looked at his salary as a measure of his achievement and self-worth. Joe and his wife, Jane, started thinking about retirement a number of years ago, when they both reached their early 60’s. They purchased a piece of land near the water, and began to contemplate building their dream house.
But Joe kept putting off the decisions necessary to move forward with the project, and about 5 years later, Jane got sick and developed cortico-basal degeneration, and slowly began to become less mobile and developed dementia common with this disease. Even in the early stages, Jane would just look at Joe, roll her eyes, and say “I am never going to see that house.” Jane passed away after years of a slow, painful decline that took a toll on them both. Joe finally retired a year and a half after Jane passed away.
By waiting so long to retire, even though they were financially secure, Joe missed the years of joy and travel he could have had with his devoted wife. Instead, he has a piece of empty land, and the empty dreams that never came to be because he simply waited too long for the “perfect time” to arrive. Now Joe’s trying to figure out what to do with their home and the empty piece of land, and is trying to construct a new life that’s much different from his original plan.
What my husband and I have learned from Joe’s experience is that we don’t want to wait until retirement to travel and enjoy ourselves. We’ve learned that while good planning leads to having more choices as we get older, we never know for sure what’s around the corner, and we don’t want to have the same regrets, or the lonely look we see in Joe’s eyes during the holidays, when we all miss Jane and her infectious laugh.
What we have also learned is that we want to make sure we retire differently than our parents, and make choices that will lead to an enriching and engaging retirement. And we know that being caught up in the day to day of our lives will mean that we may not recognize “the perfect time” when it comes.
Over the past few years, we’ve met a lot of people who live at Kendal at Longwood and Crosslands. The people we’ve met are incredible, and they’ve chosen to move to a continuing care retirement community in their early 70’s, before they have had any serious health concerns. They know that as we age, we tend to slow down, but being around other people with a similar outlook helps keep you young and engaged. For these folks, aging is a natural part of life, and not something to fear, and that’s an attitude I want to adopt as well.
Some of the people at Kendal-Crosslands communities still work. Some sit on various boards of corporations and non-profits in the area. Many volunteer their time and give back to the community, and others are devoted to life-long learning opportunities. Retirement at Kendal-Crosslands is not about giving up anything, it’s about resizing your life and choosing to become part of a community that helps you become more rather than less after retirement. The people we know acknowledge aging and retirement, but it doesn’t get in the way of a good time!
A couple who recently moved to the community said to me, “We know that it’s likely that one of us will go first, and the best gift we could give to each other is to live someplace where we know people, have a support network, and know the remaining spouse will be well cared for.” That’s the type of retirement planning I know I want to do- make an intentional choice that allows each of us to take care of the other, without worrying about relying on friends, family and neighbors to fill in when we begin to struggle with some tasks as we age.
Kendal-Crosslands Communities are designed for you to live an active and vibrant retirement, and often we hear a lot of residents wonder why they waited so long to make the move. Even residents in the community know there never seems to be a perfect or right time- there’s always some reason to put off making a decision, but when they made the choice, there was never any regret.
If you are starting to think about retirement, retirement choices, and whether a continuing care retirement community or Life Plan community is a great choice for you, give us a call and come see what makes Kendal-Crosslands different from other retirement communities. Once you meet our residents, you’ll understand immediately what makes us special.
Whitney Hoffman is part of the digital marketing team working with Kendal-Crosslands communities, and lives in Chadds Ford with her husband Matt and two college-aged sons. She is a regular contributor to the News Blog for Kendal-Crosslands Communities.