Thoughtful Aging – by Janice Whitaker
In 1992, after raising children, teaching in public schools, and moving fifteen times because of my husband Bill’s 30 years of military service, we settled in a large Texas city and began second careers thinking we would never move again. We spent most vacations visiting our parents and our children and grandchildren in other states. We saw the difficulties our parents had as they aged and thought about how their last years might have been better in other circumstances.
When I retired in 2005, I thought about how I wanted to spend my remaining years. Gardening was my main interest; I spent many hours pursuing that interest until the Texas heat and my body told me that it was time to quit.
About that same time, our daughter’s family moved to Fort Collins. After we visited them, I talked my reluctant husband into giving up his Texas activities and friends to move close to our daughter, convinced her that her family wouldn’t be our main source of entertainment, and convinced my outdoorsman husband that Colorado had many opportunities for adventure. We became permanent Fort Collins residents in 2010.
We were welcomed at our new church and encouraged to join Fort Collins Newcomers Club. We volunteered at The Food Bank for Larimer County and joined book groups. Bill hiked, led hikes, and volunteered with The Nature Conservancy and Poudre Wilderness Volunteers. I volunteered with Poudre River Friends of the Library.
Still thinking long-term, I searched for activities I could enjoy throughout my elder years. I joined a group of women who meet twice monthly to share knitting projects. Now one of my favorite hobbies is knitting baby beanies for newborns.
I learned to play Scrabble, joining Northern Colorado Scrabble Club where I met many interesting people and learned the protocols for tournament Scrabble. No longer confident driving after dark but wanting to play several times each week, I formed daytime Scrabble groups. We now play on the first and fourth Fridays of each month for fun, and a dozen of us play in a Scrabble marathon tournament where records are kept and prizes are awarded every six months.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in the move we made was finding a home where Bill and I could age in place. We had some definite ideas about what we wanted, and our realtor pointed us to a patio home community where we could have a home built to our specifications. Because our parents found stairs and narrow doorways an obstacle to their decreased mobility, we wanted all the activities of daily living to be on one floor with wide hallways and doors. We also wanted an open floorplan with space to entertain along with yard maintenance and snow removal available and good walking trails.
We feel blessed that this challenge is now a reality and hope that we have many years ahead to enjoy our home, family, friends of all ages and the greater community.