Retirement myths are as old as retirement itself. In a culture that venerates youth, it’s easy to stereotype retirement — and the aging it represents — as a dull or unhappy time or as a period in life where a person’s interests and lifestyle must change.
Research finds that in many cases, happiness actually increases with age. Your aging journey can be as unique as you are. You can radically change your life, slow down, change nothing or find a happy midway point.
Stereotypes about aging and myths about retirement also color perceptions of senior living communities. After all, if you think older adults are boring and quiet, you’re certainly not going to be interested in joining a community filled with them. If you picture rocking chairs and cozy quiet when you envision a senior living community, you’re certainly not alone.
Life Plan Communities (LPCs) do have rocking chairs, and some older adults prefer to spend their time relaxing. But many rev up the adventure — and the adrenaline — in their lives. You might go skydiving, travel the world, start a club, become an activist or get into the best shape of your life.
The right community is a launchpad for whatever comes next. It supports you in achieving your dreams and relieves the stress of home maintenance so you can focus on whatever and whoever is most important to you. Here are the top five retirement myths — and why it’s high time we retire them.
Myth No. 1: Your lifestyle has to change.
Once you retire, you have more time to focus on your hopes for the future and for the next generation. Many elected officials first take office in their 60s or 70s. Some of the world’s most beloved writers didn’t start publishing until the end of their first careers. Laura Ingalls Wilder, for example, published the first book in her groundbreaking “Little House on the Prairie” series at 65.
Older adults lead lives as unique and interesting as those in their teens, middle age and every other stage of life. Nothing about getting older means that you have to change your lifestyle. You can still be you, or you can aspire to be a new and different version of yourself.
In fact, many older adults find that aging offers new opportunities for adventure, learning, connection and giving back to their communities.
Psychotherapist Erik Erikson defined the central struggle of life beyond middle age as the choice between generativity — a focus on improving the world and supporting the next generation — and stagnation. The right community can support your goals to improve the world and your own life by relieving the daily stressors of home maintenance, meal prep, housekeeping, and more so you can turn your attention to the next chapter.
Myth No. 2: Retirement is boring.
In your working life, did you ever fantasize about all you would do with more time? Maybe it was starting a garden, learning a foreign language, traveling more, taking up salsa dancing or all of the above plus something else.
Retirement doesn’t have to be boring. It’s what you make it, and it’s uniquely your own. Financial concerns, daily tasks and other realities of life may constrain what you can do. But retirement doesn’t have to be boring at any income level or level of wellness.
The right Life Plan Community optimizes your resources by packing a ton of fun events and amenities under one roof. It also reduces stress, so you can focus on painting a retirement canvas you love.
“People here have led fabulous lives, from musicians and artists to scientists and writers, and so many occupations in between—it’s like a whole new world for me to explore.”
Myth No. 3: Stress automatically ends.
Work stress is one of life’s many challenges. When you no longer have to focus on making money or climbing the corporate ladder, life can get easier. You’ll have more time to focus on everything else and fewer distractions.
But you’ll still have home repairs to make, messes to clean, meals to cook, money to manage, family challenges to handle and more. Your life will still be your life and include all of your challenges and triumphs.
The transition to retirement itself may also be stressful — particularly if you derive great meaning or a significant portion of your identity from work. It can take time to begin building your new identity. The right support, meaningful events and space to explore your desires for the future can help you begin the construction process.
Where you live can also influence your stress level. Today, the best LPCs are thoughtfully designed to support total well-being (and all the best antidotes to stress). From walkable campuses and plentiful fitness opportunities to enjoyable classes and amenities, healthy dining and rich social opportunities, an LPC can help you live more healthfully and with less stress. And with maintenance-free living as an added plus, you'll have the time and space to chase your dreams.
Myth No. 4: Loneliness is inevitable.
It is a myth that loneliness — and the depression it can cause — are natural parts of the aging journey. In fact, older adults are happier on average than their younger peers. Many find that they have more time to focus on friends and family.
Social isolation in older adults, though, is a serious problem. You no longer have the ready-made community of your job or a group of parents with similarly aged children. Some of your friends may become caretakers for ailing spouses or parents or spend most of their time supporting their kids and grandkids. This season of life is busy and filled with challenges and stressors that can fracture relationships.
Factor in the demands of daily life — cleaning, lawn care, meal preparation and more — and developing a strategy for more socialization can feel daunting.
LPCs blend a maintenance-free lifestyle with a ready-made community and tons of fun events. This makes it easier to meet new friends, spend time with the friends you have and extract as much joy as possible from every moment.
More opportunities for connection don’t just feel good. They can improve your long-term health and well-being. Research suggests that our social connections may be the most important predictor of wellness.
“Because of past experiences with my grandmother, my mom realized that living alone could be problematic. She was proactive about making a move to this community and preventing social isolation.”
- Kristin Osborn, daughter of Redwood Terrace resident Pat Anderson
Myth No. 5: You’ll lose independence.
Loss of independence is not an inevitable, or even a likely, aspect of aging. Most older adults describe themselves as healthy. Age doesn’t have to mean decline. Even when it does, the right support can help you enjoy an active lifestyle and maximize independence.
Life Plan Communities encourage a commitment to good health by helping residents stay active and social, eat well and enjoy life. As your needs evolve, LPCs can offer support with activities of daily living and the peace of mind that comes from knowing help is there if you ever need it.
LPCs do not offer one-size-fits-all lifestyles. You choose the support you need, use the amenities you want, and cultivate a life that feels joyful, fun and adventurous — however you define it. If your needs change, you can get more support in the same community.
This offers peace of mind and can help relieve any concerns you have about giving up control over your life or relying on loved ones for care.
No matter who you are, there’s an LPC that can support you to live your best possible life. Learn more in our free guide, “The Complete Guide to Life Plan Communities.”