Reno Gazette-Journal Sunday, December 8, 2019
What is “successful aging?” It’s not a simple question to answer and has long been a subject of debate in gerontology.
Is it best defined by the often-referenced model of successful aging developed in the 1990s? That model proposed that successful aging means freedom from disease and disability, high cognitive and physical functioning, and active engagement with life.
However, the reality is that most of the aging population may not be able to meet all of the “successful aging” criteria proposed in the 1990s. Does that mean they are not aging successfully?
Certainly not by more recent standards. Researchers now propose successful aging, “aging well,” means finding ways to cope and adapt to age-related stresses like illness, social losses, and what researchers call “lack of person-environment fit” – for instance, a home that is a challenge, dangerous to live in or no longer best serves you.
Reno residents Joe and Lois Parks agree with this assessment of successful aging, especially the stress surrounding a house that becomes more challenging to maintain and the decision to move into a retirement community.
Both Joe, 81, and Lois, 78, had long professional careers – Joe as a systems analyst and technical writer and Lois in corporate finance. After 37 years living and working in California, they moved to their “forever” home in Sparks, where they spent more than a decade before moving to their next “forever” home in Reno five years ago.
“We just kept moving everything with us that we owned,” Lois said.
Things changed dramatically when they began evaluating a move into a retirement community. They had seen how packed some friends apartments were and decided that was not what they wanted.
Moving from a 2,700+ square foot home with a large basement and oversized garage into an apartment with approximately 1,100 square feet with little storage was a challenge, both mentally and physically as they no longer had the option of taking everything with them.
Joe and Lois said the realization they should again move came after a major rainstorm in 2018 which resulted in an expensive roof replacement. Next was a bathroom sink that needed repair.
“That was a big warning to me that things are going to start wearing out,” Joe said. “You can’t fix things like you used to be able to and paying for repairs can get expensive.”
They considered options, including making repairs and staying in their home but realized it would be difficult to get help when needed. That included in-home health care, which Lois said could not be guaranteed “because we’re in snow country.”
“This is not a good place to be if you need help,” she said.
After much research, they made the decision to move to a local independent living retirement community.
Decluttering for the downsizing move was not an easy process. They said even after they were mentally ready to make the move, it took six months to get things pared down to what they would really need in their new environment and that would make sense to take.
Joe said that he and Lois were thankfully well equipped from what they had learned over the past couple of years as regular attendees of the monthly Retired Living Truth Seminar Series. “The information we have learned has helped us immensely with the transition.” Joe said. “From evaluating local living options like the one we have moved to, to better understanding the whole process of making a late life move and so much more.”
“We received many tips at the seminars that helped us during the downsizing process as well as access to experts who have helped us throughout the process of selecting our new home, sorting, packing, liquidating no longer needed items and the sale of our home.” Lois said.
On Dec. 3, they were among the first residents moving into Revel Rancharrah, a new senior independent living community located in Reno, and they are excited by this next chapter in their life.
While all of the move timing worked out, it wasn’t always easy. “It was so much like doing a job every day. Somewhat distasteful and not easy,” Joe said. “It takes patience with the situation and patience with one’s own diminishing strength.”
“And patience with each other,” Lois added. “We’re doing this when we have choice. A lot of people get to a place where they have to make a choice in crisis mode.”
While Joe and Lois have had some of the same medical challenges faced by many aging adults, Joe said for him the key to aging successfully from a health perspective is to remain active and engaged with others. He had heart surgery in 2017 and a knee replacement this year.
“Keep working on your recovery after operations,” Joe said. “Don’t let it define you. Get off the couch, keep moving and learning.”
Joe and Lois will be on a panel at the upcoming seminar “The Truth about Successful Aging” on Dec. 19. The seminar will include insights from a panel of senior adults who have gone through the late-life moving process.
“The Truth about Successful Aging” seminar will be held on December 19 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the RSAR Building at 5650 Riggins Court, Reno (near Meadowood Mall).
The seminar is free for seniors and their guests. Pre-registration is required because seating is limited.
Seat reservations can be made online
at www.RetiredLivingTruthSeries.com or by calling (775) 432-6398.
This article is sponsored by Annette & Brett Junell in conjunction with the above sponsors.