What Stage Of Life Are You In?
“The period between age 50 and elderly is best described as three overlapping periods, not defined by age.” – Dr. George Schofield, professor and author of How Do I Get There From Here?
While we tend to think of our lives as defined by age, that can be misleading – just as defining every young person as a teenager is misleading when there is a wide range of maturity between 13 and 19. In fact, a recent study found that people generally decide to move into an older adult community in their 80s. But that generalization is too broad.
In his book How Do I Get There From Here? Dr. George Schofield argues that, “It’s an uninformed and inaccurate assumption to think about the period between age 50 and elderly as one single period. It’s as naïve as assuming all boomers are alike, needing and wanting the same things at the same time. It is naïve because it sets us up to be surprised and less adaptable when change —voluntary and involuntary —arrives. I also think the period between age 50 and elderly is best described as three overlapping periods, not defined by age. They are defined by life situation, and different people arrive at them at different ages and from different circumstances.”
You can read an excerpt from the book here.
He describes the overlapping stages as New Freedom, which begins at around 50 when the children have left. New Horizons, which begins after New Freedom, but is not defined by age, and lastly the New Simplicity stage of life.
United’s Cheryl Crich, director of quality enhancement and innovation, agrees that the stage of life is more important than age. “Making a decision to move into an older adult community should be more about lifestyle and moving ahead in life. Living an enriched life in your later years should be the goal. ” she said. “Those who want to maximize their independence and who want a high quality of life can use such a move as a choice that takes advantage of the person’s good health and the desire to be free from the upkeep and demands of maintaining the family home.”
While the 80s may be a typical time when people think about moving, the real motivation may be a decline in health. For those who are independent and in good health, it’s all about moving away from caring for the family home, cooking and cleaning. A move might also be based on a desire for more social engagement.
“We often find that residents who used to attend the Calgary Philharmonic, for example, now find the time to attend again, or they can pursue other interests such as painting, sculpting or writing that took a back seat when raising a family,” said Cheryl. “These things aren’t dependent on age, but rather the stage a person is at when they decide to move into one of our communities.”
The best time to research an older adult community either for yourself or a parent is when you don’t need one. Time is on your side, and the pros and cons can be weighed without the stress of a time constraint. Searching when your health takes a turn not only limits your choices, but decisions can easily be made in haste without a thorough consideration for the results.
“We’ve seen families who have waited until there has been a significant health crisis,” said Cheryl. “It’s laudable to want to keep a parent at home, especially if they continue to be independent. But it’s unfortunate when a family comes to us only after the person’s health has extensively deteriorated. What a difference it would have made in their lives if they had started their search earlier.”
Where do you start? Have a look at our article, six questions to ask yourself when looking for an older adult community.
And after you’ve made a decision, how our welcome team smooths the transition.
“Quality of life should be the deciding factor, not age,” said Cheryl. “When an older adult needs constant support, can no longer go out and becomes lonely, depressed and withdrawn, it might become obvious to the family that quality of life is deteriorating, and that’s where a move to a United community can make a real difference. Living in an active, supportive community might be able to avert a health crisis by engaging in a high quality lifestyle. The key is to focus on maintaining an independent lifestyle rather than waiting.”
Read about Ross and Ellenore Campbell, who made the decision to move early.
“People are living longer, and it’s important that we retain a high quality of life in our later years,” said Cheryl. “Don’t wait until health pushes a parent out of their home. If you are thinking about moving, act now, rather than waiting. Talk to us while there is still plenty of time to ensure you or your parent finds the right community and lifestyle to stay active, engaged and to enjoy the best each day can offer.”
Later life is a journey with a number of surprises along the way. As Dr. Schofield so aptly puts it, “There will always be straightaways and surprise curves on our life’s roadway, sometimes a hairpin turn and sometimes a switchback and sometimes a road so straight and clear that it’s obvious why no speed limit is required. Like it or not, we’re all in a transition. We’re all pioneers.”
Photos and video by Sherana Productions
Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help!
To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.