A Unique Generation: 70+: Living "it up" in a retirement community [NOOK Book]


The purpose of this book is to celebrate a unique generation, ther multitude of 70+ seniors of the 21st century, who lead purposeful, rewarding and independent lives in specially designed retirement communities.

The authors, in their early 80's, "live it up" each and every day in their chosen community. With humor, wistfulness, seriousness and common sense, they introduce some of their neighbors and provide a bird's eye view of active life after retirement. With its congenial...

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A Unique Generation: 70+: Living

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The purpose of this book is to celebrate a unique generation, ther multitude of 70+ seniors of the 21st century, who lead purposeful, rewarding and independent lives in specially designed retirement communities.

The authors, in their early 80's, "live it up" each and every day in their chosen community. With humor, wistfulness, seriousness and common sense, they introduce some of their neighbors and provide a bird's eye view of active life after retirement. With its congenial anecdotes and pithy insights, this volume can give enjoyment to readers of all ages, but will be of most interest to the 70+ folks and their families, who have been wondering how mom and dad will spend their later years. It will answer questions, such as why, when, where and how to choose a community, and give an overview of varied activities in the residents' daily lives. Topics include extending one's perspective, a typical day, pet care, exercise, semi-retirement, coping with illness, forming relationships, and many others.

The whimsical illustrations, created by resident, Shirley Walters, depict everyday retirement activities.

We invite you to visit our community by leafing at random through the pages of this book. Enjoy! Renate Donovan and Patricia Haensly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781463401870
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 6/23/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

Read an Excerpt

A Unique Generation: 70+

Living "it up" in a retirement community
By Renate Donovan Patricia Haensly


Copyright © 2011 Renate Donovan and Patricia Haensly
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4634-0189-4

Chapter One

Why a Retirement Community?

As we started to write this book, we thought of including everyone, those of us who are in our 70's and beyond. But the numbers are tremendous, too big for the scope of this book. The authors have chosen this life style and we think it will interest our readers, especially those who don't know what to expect. This includes fear of leaving our homes, fear of the unknown, fear of how we'll fit in, and just being afraid of change. Moving to a retirement community can be a difficult decision. Many will never make this choice. However, it can be the beginning of something big. It can change your life, give you a new reason for living, a challenge for the future.

We have talked to a number of members of the "unique generation," who have decided to become part of a particular retirement community. We have also discussed how each of us arrived at this decision. We call ourselves "super-seniors." Come with us as we tell our stories, so that you can learn more about us. You might find some surprises.

Betsy is an attractive, perky 75-year old widow. Her view reflects the way many of us look at life in a retirement community. Please note, we do not call our new living arrangement a "retirement home." We are a community, a neighborhood of citizens in their 70's and beyond. Here is Betsy:

"I have just passed my 75th birthday and have moved into a retirement community. Why did I come here? To be near my children? Yes! To place myself in an environment with less responsibility and less pressure, where I could relax and be at peace for the rest of my days? Yes! But, much to my surprise, I found LIFE!!"

The wonderful seniors, 70 and up, up, up, are so alive – they are looking forward to their future. Now there is time to learn new things, experience excitement, have fun, travel, find new friendship and, yes, love.

"Since moving here I have learned to bowl wii® – am, in fact, captain of my bowling team. Also, I won a gold medal in the Area Senior Olympics for Washer Pitching.

"I entertain my new-found friends and neighbors more now than I ever did in the past. Of course, many of us get together in the morning over coffee to solve the world's problems. After all, with all of our experience, we are certainly qualified.

"Since I've been here I danced for the first time in nine years, and, no, I had not forgotten how. I just haven't thought about dancing in a long time. What fun it is!

"I am continuing to grow. Not only from learning through shared experiences, but by attending seminars and workshops. I just bought a computer.

"Now I am focusing on staying alive (after all, I'm having a ball) by taking better care of myself through exercising my body and my mind.

"Seventy-five has become a new beginning for me. I leap out of bed in the morning (almost literally). I cannot wait to begin my day.

"My family appreciates my new-found happiness also. Now, when they talk about their adventures, I have interesting tales to tell. It's been a win, win for us all."

Other comments we have heard frequently from super-seniors emphasize the feeling of independence, freedom, and the ability to live life fully, perhaps for the first time in their adult years.

Shirley says: "I wanted to lift that burden from my children's shoulders. I wanted to make my own decision about where I would live the rest of my life. I did not want my daughter to have to find a suitable place for me when the time came to move. I found this wonderful community, I have new friends, I am never lonely. I can be alone when I want to be and I can have company when I feel like talking. I can play games, or bridge, or listen to music, or read a good book. It's all up to me."

Chapter Two

A Day in the Life of a Super-Senior

How do we, super-seniors, spend a typical day? You might think we spend most of it on the telephone, contacting our loved ones, or perhaps resting and taking naps, as couch potatoes, watching television and some such restful non-activities. Far from it. Even our restful days are full of activities. Let us peek in on some of our fellow residents for a review of an ordinary day. The first one we'll visit is Helen. Helen is 85 years old and lives in a two-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a four-story building in her retirement community. She has a lovely patio that looks out on a large grassy ground with trees and a lake in the background. She rises daily at 6:00 a.m. Today is no exception. She fixes herself a cup of coffee and takes it out to the patio to admire the sunrise and watch some of the other early risers walk their dogs or just walk. Her husband, Keith, rises a little later. She takes time to putter in her small garden that surrounds the patio. Helen is very proud of her garden. She grows mostly shrubs and flowers, but also tends a tomato vine which is growing healthy fruit. She and Keith have placed a trellis on one side of the patio and have planted a butterfly vine to climb on the trellis. This gives them some privacy without obstructing the view. Although Helen was a nurse before she retired, she is an avid gardener. I had never heard of a butterfly vine, but Helen explained to me that, not only does the vine have beautiful yellow blossoms, but after the blossoms bloom, they take the shape of a butterfly. She showed me both the blooms and the butterflies. Amazing!

Later in the day Helen goes to her Painting class. She considers herself a beginner but showed me a lovely watercolor she is painting, resembling part of her son's woody area with a pond and waterfall. She is using a photograph of the area as her guide. A new challenge for Helen in her eighties.

In the afternoon Helen and Keith like to go to the community indoor pool where they exercise their legs and relax their bodies. But ... the best part is yet to come. Around 4:30 p.m. Helen and Keith hold court on their patio with a "cocktail party" for their neighbors. This is a daily occurrence for close neighbors who look forward to it. It's a great time for snacks and drinks and just good conversation before dinnertime. After dinner, at approximately 9:00 p.m., it is time to retire. It's been a good busy day. Good night!

Next, we visit with Esther. Esther has just turned 91 but that hasn't slowed her down much. She moved to the retirement community with her husband three years ago. Sadly, he passed away last year. She gives us a peek at some of her days in a typical week. In her own words:

"Monday: My daughter, who lives in another city, spent Sunday night with me. We were up about 7:30 a.m., dressed, made the beds, had breakfast, and then went to the grocery store before she went home. I read the paper and gave it to my neighbors as they are not from the area and I like to share.

"After lunch I made sure all was picked up, then I worked at my desk for a while and checked my e-mail. I relaxed the remainder of the day as I was tired.

"Not an exciting day, but a satisfying day. Some work and some relaxing enjoyment.

"Tuesday: The early hours are about the same, except that I have an exercise class in the morning. After dinner there is an evening class to study 'Music through the ages.' We finished this series and now we will study 'Mythology.'

"Thursday: My other daughter and I met my son in the Galleria area to transact some business. We had coffee and visited a bit before going our separate ways. (Ed. Note: Esther still drives her car)

"My daughter and I stopped for a sandwich before coming back to the apartment where she helped me make a few changes ... before she went home. I relaxed the remainder of the day reading and knitting.

"Saturday: Up at the regular time, straightened the bedroom a bit, then to the kitchen for breakfast. I try to make Saturday special as it is a more relaxing day. So today it was a waffle, frozen of course, as I did not bring the big waffle iron when I moved here. Still it was good.

"Saturday is also the day I give my three flowering plants extra attention. One is an African Violet given to me by a friend when we moved here and it has nearly tripled in size during three years. Another is a Christmas Cactus which is a start from my grandmother's and is now nearly 60 years old in my care. It has been with me, living in Indiana, New Jersey, and Texas. I have not always had a good place for it, and it did not grow much for several years. I have a good window now, and it has really grown. I wish my grandmother could see it, but maybe she knows. The third plant is a Leather Plant, also known as Closet Plant, which three of my grandchildren gave me when my husband died last year. It gives me a good feeling as I take care of my plants. No, I do not talk to them, just give them TLC.

"Sunday: This Sunday I will have my usual morning schedule, except no time to read the paper, as the church bus picks me up, along with a couple of residents, to go to church. I return in time for Sunday Brunch, then read the paper, and possibly take a nap. Evenings vary, as one Sunday it is a DVD of a Broadway Hit, and another Sunday it is a DVD of an opera. This month it is Madame Butterfly by Puccini. Next Sunday we'll listen to a concert given by a young upcoming pianist.

"There is always an activity going on here and lots of people take part. I am one of them. Some are educational and some just fun, and a good way to get acquainted."

Age certainly has not slowed Esther down. Remember Betsy? She explained in an earlier chapter why she enjoys living in her chosen retirement community. Betsy just turned 75. Here she tells us what a day in her life looks like:

"I have made my life as easy and stress-free as possible since retiring from the workplace. A day in my life is pretty much whatever I want it to be.

"On Saturday mornings I bowl in our wii® bowling league (digital bowling on the internet), but, every other morning I get up whenever I wake up. I eat breakfast, then go into the 'Bistro' (a common area where residents gather for coffee and conversation – doughnuts on Fridays). I enjoy discussing the news of the day and learning true life stories and experiences of fellow residents.

"From there, I go to our in-house library to volunteer my services. I prepare new books for shelving. I am an avid reader, so it's nice to help in that way.

"Then it's lunchtime. I usually have lunch in my apartment. If shopping is not on my agenda, I spend most of the afternoons with a good book or catching up on chores; except on Sunday afternoons, when I play gin rummy with friends.

"Many evenings I have cocktails with friends in one apartment, or another, or in the lounge/bar area. Then it's a lovely gourmet dinner in our formal dining room. It's an early evening. I'm usually home by 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. Saturday night is the exception. I go out for live music and jive until midnight with a 'young' male fellow resident who loves to dance as much as I do. My life is good every day. I am a happy lady."

Thus far we have introduced you to a number of ladies, ages 75-91. Another resident is a very busy gentleman, John, a retired engineer. He explains that he is "mobility challenged" and uses a motorized wheel chair. His wife has been diagnosed with dementia and needs help. John refers to his condition but does not allow it to keep him from a full and exciting life. He is truly a super-senior. You will read more about his story in a later chapter, "Coping with Illness."

Chapter Three


From the day we are born we form relationships. A new baby looks to his mother for comfort. The toddler finds an adult or another toddler to be with. All of us find a "best friend" as we grow from kindergarten to elementary school, middle school, high school, and on to college. It's part of growing up! We form relationships, expand them, change them, but never do without them.

As we reach the seventies and above, our relationships seem to become even more important. No one wants to be alone. We find that some of the friends we have made in the past have gone their own way while others may have changed their interests. Hopefully, we have our families who want to nurture us and take care of us. We notice, however, with some surprise, that the relationship has changed. While we were in charge in our younger years, some of us may be expected to follow our children's desires, and often those desires don't match what we want for ourselves. We realize that this is the time when we have to make decisions. This is the time when living in a retirement community becomes a definite possibility. We need a place where we can be free and independent, and where we can look forward to the visits from our family and friends. These visits will be special treats for us and for them, but these visits will be on our terms. There will always be some who prefer to be dependent, but the majority of us will cherish this time in our lives and our new place in society, where we can make the choices for ourselves.

I have discussed this subject with a number of residents on our "campus." Many came here because they wanted to "downsize." They were tired of keeping house, worrying about all the details of home maintenance, fixing meals, tending a large garden, and general day-to-day care of the home.

Shirley explained her decision to move here. "This is the first time that I'm free enough to do many things I enjoy. When my husband passed away, I felt lonely. I missed having a partner. Here I have taken up line dancing and I love it." Not only has Shirley enjoyed the dancing, but she has also found a partner.

Sally and Harry have had an exciting life together for more than 60 years. After Harry retired at 59, and the children were in college, they gave up their home, and moved into a motor home as their permanent place of residence. They lived their dreams, as they traveled in the motor home all over the United States. When in the Western states, they took time out to go on cruises to Hawaii, and other far away places. When in the East, they visited Europe. "We got better airfares that way," they explained. Twenty-five years later, they donated the motor home to their favorite charity, and moved into our retirement community. They were ready to settle down. Sounds like the ideal solution, doesn't it? They have slowed down a bit, now that they have reached the eighties, but they are still independent, and doing what they want to do.

Catherine is 76. She is single, has never been married, and has always been independent. She dresses beautifully and makes friends easily. Within the community she has found a smaller circle of friends. I see them meeting before dinner, then going to dinner together, and perhaps spending the evening playing games, or just enjoying each other's companionship.

Evelyn has a son in Texas and a daughter in Minnesota. She lost her husband of more than 60 years, and still misses him. Realizing her plight, one of her neighbors gave her a kitten, now her constant companion. Her second delight is forming a good relationship with the staff member, who arranges trips for the residents. Being new to Texas, Evelyn has learned more about the state than most Texans know. She participates in every excursion that is available. She also travels back and forth, to see her daughter and grandchildren in Minnesota. When she is gone, a neighbor takes care of the cat.

Relationships can be formed here in so many ways. In this community, the dining hours are arranged so that people are seated as they come in. They can come in with friends and sit together, or they can arrive singly or in doubles, and be seated with others. What a wonderful way to meet new residents! Dining time becomes social time.


Excerpted from A Unique Generation: 70+ by Renate Donovan Patricia Haensly Copyright © 2011 by Renate Donovan and Patricia Haensly. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


1. Why a Retirement Community?....................1
2. A Day in the Life of a Super-Senior....................5
3. Relationships....................11
4. Changing the World One Favor at a Time....................19
5. Extending One's Perspective....................25
6. Spirituality and Religion: Important Pursuits....................31
7. Learning a Second Language....................37
8. Reading: Nurturing Mind, Soul and Body....................41
9. Fabric, Artistry and Nimble Fingers....................47
10. Painters, Poets, and Other Creators....................53
11. Music Makes the World Go Round....................57
12. Woodworking Beauty and Imagination....................63
13. Exercise for Physical and Mental Health....................69
14. Let's Play a Game ....................75
15. Coping with Illness....................79
16. Gardening and the Landscape: Linking Earth and Beauty....................93
17. Pets: Special Companions....................99
18. "Ninety" and Living Fully....................105
19. Not Fully Retired Yet....................109
20. Traveling Here, There, and Everywhere....................113
21. Technology – Tools and Challenges....................119
22. Selecting Your Ideal Community....................125
23. Our Sense of Humor....................139
Epilogue: Finding the Joys of 70 and Beyond....................143
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