Felice Shapiro is a writer, entrepreneur, and publisher as well as the founder of Better After 50, a weekly online magazine. In addition to being a teacher and avid runner, hiker, and yogi, she is an AARP contributor.
Annie, Jean, Claude, Albert and Jeanne have been friends for over forty years. But they are growing old, and old age tends to be synonymous with reduced autonomy, loss of memory, illness, retirement home and, worst of all, separation. One day, one of the five friends suggests they say no to isolation and loneliness and asks what would it be like if they all lived together? Starring the fabulous Pierre Richard, Geraldine Chaplin, Guy Bedos, and (yes, really) Jane Fonda. Watch the trailer here.
In the new French “comedy,” All Together, Jane Fonda’s character, Annie, asks, “we plan out so much of our lives, so why didn’t we plan for this final time?”
My husband and I loved this film, but the elephant in the room needed to be discussed. We hunkered down for a serious Q and A: Where will our parents live in their final days? (Better yet, where will we live?) Should we start planning for the future, now? What if one of us gets sick? Why does this have to be such an impossibly depressing topic?
In this next chapter of our lives, when the nest is empty and the daily face time at the office is not required because most work can be done in cyberspace, the where-to-live options can make you go a little nutty.
We reviewed what our friends were doing and then we made of list of what we needed to consider to make a decision (at some point).
After all, we have so many friends who are thinking of changing up the living formula. It’s our generation’s “hot topic.” Those who have the means are adding on to the suburban home, and then some are getting a pied a’ terre in a city like Manhattan, New York or Burlington, Vermont.
Most others seem to be wrangling with their real estate tax burdens and are feeling forced to move to nearby communities that soften their pain-–say, moving from Westchester, New York to somewhere in Connecticut. But that means changing communities where friends aren’t within walking distance any longer. That means making new friends and figuring out new routines–-sad for some, an adventure for others.
And still others are making that vacation home their permanent home. Why not? If you love Martha’s Vineyard, sell the house back home and live on the island full time. Or maybe that country cabin in Vermont or that cottage in the Hamptons will become the primary residence.
Where are those kids gonna settle? Many of us want to stay near them but hey, those kids are in their 20s, and who knows where they’ll end up? Chasing them around the country…not really realistic!
Build it and they will come: We’ve got friends who made their new primary residence so inviting, that their kids spend every weekend there! Bedrooms are reserved for the kids and girlfriends and enticing amenities were added on. (The big lure —video golf and a well-stocked wine cellar.)
How about the boomers who just want to have fun? Some friends of ours just bought a place in Florida–the wife is retiring at 63 years old. She said she will be playing golf and bridge, and she’s earned it —she worked for 40 years and she wants to play and read. Her husband is thrilled.
But I’m not talking about “what” to do when you retire …this musing is about where to do whatever “what” is.