OurLife: Where you live matters

By Bob Ramsey

Guest Columnist

Place counts. Where you live (e.g. farm, city, suburb, house, apartment, mansion, mobile home, condo or house boat) is important to your quality of life— especially if you are a senior citizen. It’s not just a backdrop or setting for your life; it’s an active player. Where you live is part of who you are.

The young singing sensation Scotty McCreary explained it this way: “Home isn’t just a starting point; it’s also a place that can ground you and keep you normal, even if your life has suddenly been uprooted.”

It’s difficult to separate place from the milestones in your life. Your most precious memories are often linked to the place you lived during these critical life events. That’s why we often have vivid mental images of the places where we grew up or raised our children and why so many of us yearn to revisit our childhood home.

My wife is an extreme example. She remembers all of the houses she ever lived in— not just the general layout or floor plan, but the details: wallpaper design, type of molding, door knobs, etc. Who remembers doorknobs?

She dates when things happened in her life by recalling where she lived when they occurred. She once even constructed an exact replica of one of her childhood homes in miniature entirely from memory. Most of us don’t recall all this minutia; but we do associate place with our coveted memories and emotions from the past.

Obviously, place has meaning. That makes choosing where to live in your later years an important life-defining decision. Today, seniors have more housing options than ever before. Many are choosing to “age in place” in the family home where they raised their children. Many others choose to downsize to a smaller condo or town house. Still others elect to live in a senior independent living community.

Choosing where to spend the third act of your life is one decision you definitely want to get right, Of course, it should be a place that is affordable, accessible and supports your health and vital aging lifestyle.

The place you live should be more than what poet Robert Frost described as “a place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” It should be welcoming, nurturing and comfortable. The people there should be your biggest cheerleaders.

More than that, the place you live as an older adult must provide a safe haven, Award-winning journalist Tom Freidman says the world needs more “eyes” (calm places) in today’s hurricane of chaos. Likewise, where you live should be an “eye” in your life, no matter how stormy it may get outside.

Most important, where you live as you age should suit you. It doesn’t have to be large or luxurious. But it does have to fit whom you are and how you want to live.

I’m reminded of a young friend of mine whose work involved visiting many senior living situations. He once said to me, “Where you live seems a little dated.”

My reply was simply, “It should be a little dated. The people who live there are a little dated.” I’m dated. You probably are, too.

My wife and I took a long time deciding where to live in our elderhood. We chose carefully and moved before we had to. We’re in the right place. What about you?

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Bob Ramsey is a lifelong educator, freelance writer and advocate for vital aging. He can be contacted at 952-922-9558 or by email at [email protected].