Retirement Living

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Playground or God's Waiting Room?

For thousands of years, people of similar ethnic, religious, cultural and artistic interests have joined together to form communities. Plymouth Colony, Greenwich Village, Harlem and Hollywood come to mind as such examples. But the concept of a community for a particular age group has only come about within the past fifty years - probably because of better transportation, modern communications and pension plans supplemented by social security.

Most folks move here with the view that SCC is a Playground for Seniors. Indeed, the unofficial motto is: "The Community that is too busy to retire!" This is due in great part to the marketing efforts by the developer and the local real estate agents. And certainly a cursory examination of the facilities reinforces this claim. My observation is that one is going to do pretty much the same things that one did before retirement - just more of it. A wonderful example of this is the fellow who was always at the woodworking shop. One day I asked him what he did before he retired. The answer: "Oh, I was a shop teacher!" In my own case, I did computer programming for 35 years. So what do I do now that I'm retired? Computer stuff! If you liked to golf, you'll probably golf more. If you liked to sew, you'll probably sew more. If you liked to grump, you'll probably grump more. If you liked to drink, you'll probably drink more.

However, I have noticed that there are four activities which do attract many of the newly retired that move here and which they apparently did not engage in before moving here. They are: Lawn Bowling, Bridge, Dancing, and Computers. But, in general, the majority of members in most of the clubs are folks who did that activity prior to retirement.

The community maintains a very nice outdoor swimming pool at a cost of tens of thousand of dollars per year. And yet, one seldom sees more than half-a-dozen or so residents using it. Apparently, very few of the 9000+ residents lounged around pools prior to retirement - so they don't do it now. On a personal note, I had a beautiful machine shop "up north" for puttering around. I gave it all away before we moved here. Had I realized that I would want to do the same things as I did prior to retirement, I would have brought it with me.

Obviously, as one ages, develops medical problems and perhaps loses a spouse, participation decreases. Then, instead of being a Playground for Seniors, Sun City Center becomes God's Waiting Room. Even so, it is just as well equipped to be a Waiting Room as a Playground. It is much easier to remain independent here since all of the facilities and activities are geared to Seniors and since golf carts can be used for visiting, shopping and going to the doctor.

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Retirement and Mental Health

The one and only legal requirement to live in Sun City Center is that at least one of the spouses must be 55 or order. Since being older and retired creates a totally unique set of attitudes and problems, retirement communities (such as Sun City Center) share an interesting set of benefits and problems. The first third of one's life is spent growing up and getting an education. The second is spent getting married, raising a family and trying to eke out a living. And the third is spent being retired, which certainly represents a great change from one's former life.

The medical community has had a great deal of success in treating the physical ailments of Senior Citizens. This is not true of their (our) mental ailments. Dr. Ken Barringer, a retired clinical psychologist, is a resident of Sun City Center and is concerned about the mental health of SCC folks. Here are his thoughts about the matter (culled from a recent article in the Sun City Center Observer News): "Residents over the age of 55 may find they need support during a number of stressful situations. Retired individuals may suffer from mild to severe depression, stress and anxiety, issues related to a health crisis or relocation to a new community, unresolved marital and family conflicts even after years of marriage...and alcoholism or dependency on prescription drugs or other substances. Although many folks in Sun City Center are pleasant, kind and caring, contentiousness can develop when people are transplanted into a new community without old ties, have lots of time to ruminate over minor matters, and become frustrated and dissatisfied with life. People may become more rigid, more opinionated, and less tolerant of change."

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