Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with two residents of Henry Ford Village (HFV) in Dearborn, Michigan. Let’s call them Dan and Mary. They were not a couple but had become friends over their time living in this continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or life plan community).
I asked Dan and Mary the two question I often ask residents of the CCRCs I visit: “How long have you lived here” and “How do you like it?” Dan had lived there for about five years, and I think it was three or four for Mary.
When I asked how they like it Dan responded first by saying, “I love it. This place is made for me.” When I asked why, he described how it has everything he could ever want. He is particularly big into fitness, so he really liked jogging and being involved in the wellness programs. This wasn’t a surprise because I could tell by looking at him that he was in spectacular physical condition. But then he said something that really stood out to me.
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“The best thing about HFV,” said Dan, “is the smiling faces.” He talked about how it sometimes takes him 30 minutes just to walk from his home to the main building because he stops and talks with so many of his friends along the way.
It was about this time that Mary jumped right in. She explained that when she was in her early twenties, she was into photography and even photographed a few weddings back then, but had not done much with a camera in decades until she moved to HFV. As she described how much she is doing with photography now, it became clear to me.
The reason she can focus on photography now is because she finally has the time. She isn’t distracted with home maintenance, housekeeping, groceries, and more tasks and chores that used to take up so much of her time. She is free to do what she wants to do and not what she has to do.
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Well-deserved happiness in retirement
About now, you may be thinking that this is a sales pitch for CCRCs. It’s not. I completely understand and respect that there are many paths to happiness and fulfillment in retirement, and CCRCs are not the answer for everyone. (Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a CCRC even if they wanted to.)
Yet, I often hear stories like these from residents of CCRCs, and I like to share them because they warm my heart every time. After all, who doesn’t aspire to feel this way about their lives and where they live? To know that, after years of hard work—in a career, possibly serving our country, raising a family, and so on—a person has found a place where they feel so comfortable and at home— it just makes me feel really good.
After talking with Dan and Mary, I truly was inspired. In fact, I was actually a bit envious. I can only hope I’m in as good of a place as they seem to be when I’m their age.
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