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Community Life, Living at GreenFields of Geneva

Inaptly Named ‘Retirement’

What does the term retirement community have in common with koala bear, funny bone, and two-toed sloth?

The answer is, they’re all ‘misnomers.’

A koala bear is really a marsupial, not a bear.

The funny bone, which is not a bone, is actually the ulnar nerve and it’s anything but funny when you hit it on the corner of a table.

Two-toed sloths in fact have three toes on each foot, and two fingers on each hand.

And retirement community? A misnomer, when you consider the fact that retirement suggests withdrawal or cessation. Maybe this was appropriate for a generation or so ago, but not any longer. Today’s seniors aren’t looking to retire or pull back…they’re eagerly looking forward to the next chapter in their lives.

Forbes evaluates this phenomenon, with possible substitute terms including rewirement, encore life, and third act, ultimately landing on “retirements.” This suggests that during one’s golden years, there will be multiple ‘what nexts.’

Today’s ‘retiree’ doesn’t live a staid and static life. New Retirement proposes that the first thing a new retiree should do is investigate and consider whatever it is that makes them happy. Suggested books to navigate this journey include

Purposeful Retirement, The Joy of Retirement, and I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was.

Many people in this chapter of their lives, choose to take their newly found free time to travel. Whether it’s a state or two over to visit friends, or on the other side of the ocean to check exotic locales off your bucket list, this is a top pursuit of retirees. In planning travel, there are various considerations including mode of transportation (driving, motor coach, cruise, flying); budgeting and accessing discounts, and exploring different senior-friendly destinations. And best of all there are many resources from which to choose, that can help you with all of your travel coordination.

Many seniors take their travel bug one step further to become snowbirds…. or some other kind of bird. There are so many different ways to relocate seasonally, including through a house swap, recreational vehicle, or home rental.

It may surprise you to learn that the most consummate entrepreneurs are retirees. Americans ages 55-64 launch new businesses at a higher rate than people in their 20s-30s. This demographic has more experience, is less worried about risk, and has greater financial security. There’s a world of opportunity out there to start something new and be your own boss. In fact Forbes reported that the most successful entrepreneurs are not millennials, but are “middle age and beyond.”

Even if you’re not inclined to become an entrepreneur, you might wish to be gainfully employed. So, get a job! Zety offers a list of 110 of the bests jobs for retirees, including tutor, brand ambassador, food or product demonstrator, mail carrier, handyman, and more.

Want to work somewhere other than in the Chicagoland? CoolWorks’ Older and Bolder site has ideas for seasonal work for seniors in exotic locales including Alaska and Colorado. One of the more innovative seasonal schemes is called workamping. This is where you can stay at a great campground for no charge, in return for working for the owner.

Of course, a great option for staying engaged is volunteer work. Not only does this give you the opportunity to give back, share your expertise, help others, and remain engaged…but it’s been shown that volunteering can increase your well-being. Aside from multiple volunteer work opportunities throughout your community such as Feed My Starving Children, Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Home and Aid, and area schools, take some time and investigate more out-of-the-box
ideas. Did you know the Peace Corps doesn’t have an age limit for participation?

Whatever you choose to do with your newly found free-time, know that ‘retirement’ is just a start to the next very exciting time in your life.

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