For some reason, our youth-obsessed society has made it unpopular to talk about aging. Yet, everyone gets old, it's just a part of life. Nowhere is it written that the life you lead in the first 30 years is always better than the last 30 years. Aging brings wisdom, experience, grace, and strength, and those who have reached the golden years of their lives should be respected and viewed as teachers with much to share.
Unfortunately, the logistics of getting older aren't quite as poetic. Entering retirement is just as big of a life change as getting married or having your first child. After retirement, nothing is quite the same as it was before. Income, daily schedules, and physical ability all change once work is no longer a requirement.
GREEN HOUSING FOR SENIOR
For those who value an eco-friendly lifestyle, green habits that were once routine can become burdensome or physically impossible. Fortunately, there are alternatives to living with a child or moving to a traditional retirement home. If you're interested in maintaining a low-impact lifestyle throughout retirement, these alternatives may interest you:
Cohousing is a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods. Each member of a cohousing community has their own private quarters, which are sometimes completely separate dwellings but can also be dorm-style apartments. Common areas, however, are shared, along with the responsibility of caring for them. Safety, socialization, and a nurturing community are desirable qualities to seniors (as well as the rest of us) and these are things intrinsically included in a cohousing environment. For more information, check out the ElderCohousingresources on Cohousing.org.
Eco-Friendly Assisted Living
For retirees with health or mobility concerns, assisted living communities can provide the safety and comfort they need without completely restricting independence. There are a growing number of eco-friendly assisted living communities emerging around the country, although it's important to know what criteria to look for. According to Carol Gulyas of GreenGeezer.com, a truly green assisted living home should:
Meet or beat the EPA's Energy Star standardsAchieve high standards of indoor air qualityUse building materials that are locally produced and or/recycledIncorporate water conservation and storm water managementAssert a minimal footprint on the landKeep carbon emissions low through use of renewable energy or super-efficient weatherization
Beaverton Lodge in Portland, Oregon is a great example of what an eco-friendly assisted living community should look like. Clickheretotakeavideotourofthefacility.
Green Places To Retire
They don't call retirement "the golden years" for nothing. After working hard and raising children, retirement is the time when many people finally get around to doing the things they've always dreamed of. If you're looking for the perfect place to retire, there's no reason to limit yourselves to traditional destinations like Florida or Arizona. Check out lists like Rand McNally's "5 Eco-FriendlySmallTowns" or Natural Home and Garden's "America'sTop 10 BestEco-Neighborhoods" to find the perfect place to start your green retirement.
BethBuczynski is an environmental writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. Follow her on Twitter as @ecosphericblog.