ParentCare » Vol. 40

Active adult communities create a new kind of retirement

By Peggy Patenaude

Active Retirement

There is a tsunami coming ~ a tsunami of baby boomers redefining the term retirement community so much that it is now being called an active adult community. No more apartments with small closets and miniscule kitchens. This generation is vastly different than their parents, and their housing desires reflect that.

Many in this generation find themselves entering their sixth or seventh decade still employed or attending college classes to further their knowledge. They are tech savvy, and they love their amenities as much now as they did when they were 40.

Active RetirementSo what are some of the things this generation is seeking? For starters, they want fitness facilities, good food and a sense of community. No more Bingo or quiet reading nooks. This group wants wall space for flat screen TVs and wireless Internet access in every possible space. They aren’t looking to go quietly into the good night. They want to remain active and continue to learn, and they want hiking and biking trails, too.

Shuffleboard may be a thing of the past, but games are still important. The hottest fitness fad is pickleball, which is a combination of tennis and Ping-Pong and played on a badminton-size court with wood paddles and a plastic Wiffle ball. Pickleball has become so much a part of the active adult community in the Southwest, in fact, that the USA Pickleball Association national tournament will be held in November.

One thing is for sure: Seniors are spending more time enjoying the outdoors, which has led to larger outdoor living spaces. Many new active adult communities are creating larger patio spaces where residents can relax outside with a glass of wine and survey their surroundings. If there is a view of a lake, mountain or golf course, even better.

Active Retirement

This generation is also interested in lifelong learning in all aspects of body, mind and spirit. Offering classes in current events, Internet safety and a foreign language is essential. This group also wants to maintain its fitness, but classes are much more holistic. Everything from Tai Chi to water aerobics is popular with this new generation of fit older adults. Baby boomers also want massage and classes on nutrition so that they will have the lung capacity to blow out the candles on their 100th birthday cakes.

Perhaps the biggest change ~ aside from the obvious addition of the Internet, iPads and other electronic devices ~ is the boomers’ desire to continue to revel in their classy surroundings. They still want their stainless steel appliances, their granite countertops and their large kitchens. Members of this group love to entertain, and they want to continue to be able to do so. They are also still smitten with their oversized showers and their walk-in closets.

The world is much different today; no more working for the same company for 40 years and quietly retiring to a small home. Baby boomers plan to party likes it’s 1999, and they want to be lifelong, active learners. Active adult communities that offer the amenities listed above will draw the most interest in the years to come.

Peggy Patenaude is a leader in real estate sales in the Andovers, an affluent suburb of Boston. She has won more than 58 awards since she began her career in 2002, including top Sales Agent in Massachusetts for her nationwide company. Patenaude has considerable experience in downsizing and guiding homeowners through the process of putting their home on the market to sell.

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