Retirement Homes Aren’t Just for Retirees

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A resident on his laptop in the lounge

Something to Look Forward To

Marilen Hartnett isn’t your typical senior living community resident. While most of the older adults living at The Horizon Club in Florida spend the daytime hours relaxing and enjoying retirement, Marilen heads to her office to do what she’s loved doing for 50 years: work. The full-time paralegal knew when she moved into the independent living community in 2014 at age 64 that she wouldn’t be retiring anytime soon. The death of her mother and a broken hip, though, made staying at home a lonely challenge. Moving into The Horizon Club offered a fresh start, one where she could keep working and not have to worry about chores and cooking at the end of a long work day. She hasn’t looked back since.

Marilen“Life is so much easier,” says Marilen while sitting outside waiting to watch another stunning Deerfield Beach sunset. “If you want an easier life in semi-retirement, this is the place. I’ve never regretted it at all.”

Every day, Marilen says, there’s something in the evening to enjoy. Trips to the movies, live music, interesting lectures, relaxing in the spa… “there’s just so much to do here,” she says. Having her pick of fun and diverse activities in the evening also makes her that much more excited to start her day. “You don’t miss anything except the activities during the day, and it gives you something to look forward to when you get home,” she says.

The best part? All the parts of life she doesn’t look forward to—chores, cleaning, cooking, running errands, etc.—are taken care of. She says she’s often tired at the end of the work day and it’s a relief to come home and not have to do it all herself. If she’s having any issues, whether it’s a broken AC or feeling under the weather, she adds that there’s comfort in knowing she doesn’t have to go somewhere or search online for hours for a solution. Help is just one call away, or she’ll just bring it up during her daily check-up call from a Five Star staff member. “It leaves you so much more free time to take advantage of all the freedom and choices you have here,” she says.

No matter your age, when moving into a new community, there’s always that fear that you won’t fit in. Marilen wasn’t sure at first if she’d completely feel included when she joined the Horizon Club community, but those worries quickly went away once she was warmly welcomed by her fellow residents. Even though she’s one of the few still working, she says that being out during the day hasn’t made it difficult to make friends. Since she doesn’t have to cook if she doesn’t want to, she often dines with her fellow residents in the evening to socialize.

“I never sit alone,” she says. “It’s great to know that I can keep my outside friends while making fascinating new friends on the inside.”

Senior Living Community Camaraderie: Turning Off-Hours to Happy Hours

AmbroseTo Ambrose Siers, a resident of Meadowmere, an independent living community in Oak Creek, WI, the friends he’s made since moving in with his wife Laverle last March have become a “loving community that’s more like a family.” The 87-year-old Ambrose is no stranger to the Meadowmere community. He’s been offering religious services at Meadowmere as the pastoral minister for the nearby St. James Catholic Church there for over a decade and has become a beloved member of the community since. It was only natural that the pair would eventually move into their own Meadowmere apartment when the time came. It doesn’t hurt that his commute to the people he serves is now just a walk around the neighborhood.

“The choice was perfect for us,” says Ambrose. “There’s great camaraderie here and I feel that my job is to keep engendering and nourishing that spirit.”

Ambrose is a self-proclaimed “people person” and says one of the biggest things that appealed to him about independent living is choosing how sociable to be each day and making your own schedule. After writing and sending out his daily spiritual reflection, you’ll likely find him either making pastoral visits to residents, dabbling in his newfound hobby of watercolor painting, or enjoying a cocktail during his favorite part of the day: happy hour in the afternoon. For someone who’s still working, he says, knowing friends and fun await make all those meetings and emails so much more bearable.

“No matter how work was that day, it’s a great feeling knowing that at the end of the day you’re coming home to a loving community where you can relax with no pressures,” he says.

The Perfect Work/Life Balance

Though hundreds of miles apart, Marilen and Ambrose echo that moving into an independent living community was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. They’re not the only ones. A growing number of older adults who want to work past the typical retirement years are finding that joining a senior living community offers a support system far better than what they have at home. Whether it’s the wide variety of planned activities available during their off-hours, the worry-free lifestyle, or the many new friends they’ve made since moving in, the pair aren’t just living out their golden years while still working, they’re thriving. They emphasize that moving into an independent living community isn’t retiring, but starting a new chapter of your life where you can fully enjoy doing the things you love and age in place with like-minded people who will make you feel right at home after a day at the office. No more working for the weekend. For Marilen and Ambrose, every evening offers something to look forward to. Work/life balance doesn’t get any better than that.

Want to learn more about independent living at Five Star? Find a senior living community near you.

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