By Dom Cioffi
In last week’s column, I talked about the documentary “Some Kind of Heaven,” which examined the lives of several retirees living in The Villages community in Florida. I found the movie interesting not only because I knew little about The Villages and its specific catering to seniors, but also because (as the film highlighted), no level of safety, comfort, or entertainment can shield you from the effects of aging.
The film got me thinking about retiring. I’m still a decade away at best, but as I’ve learned from other people I’ve known, if you don’t plan, things might not go in the direction you want.
I started doing some research online about retirement communities and honestly, it’s like looking for a college all over again. The irony is that I put very little effort into finding a college when I was a kid. I basically applied to one school, never visited the campus, got accepted, went there for four years, and then graduated. Nowadays, parents and kids plan extensive trips across the country to visit 10-20 schools. That was not me.
For my second act, I’ve decided that I’m going to search out the perfect spot to grow old. But the location has to fulfill several requirements before I will even consider it.
First of all, I want to be in a more rural setting. I’ve lived in the country and I’ve lived in major cities and I much prefer the country. I found some epic retirement communities that were centralized in major metropolitan areas, and while they offered instant access to glorious museums, major sporting events and other accouterments of culture, I still have little interest in being in the middle of so much chaos. And don’t even get me started about the traffic.
The second thing I’ll require from a retirement community is golf. One course is fine, but I’d prefer a setting where there are multiple courses to choose from.
I golf a lot, and barring some sort of debilitating injury, I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. And I see enough old geezers still playing (and playing fairly well) that I know I’ll be able to stay with it for many more years. Not to mention, it’s a wonderful source of exercise and camaraderie.
The next thing I require of my retirement community is a nearby hospital. I learned this during my cancer treatments and also from the experiences of my older family members. Trips to the doctor get more and more frequent as the human body ages, so it would be negligent to put yourself somewhere where a doctor or hospital was not easily accessible.
Years ago, I would have also included a nearby library, but with the advent of the internet and instant information, that’s no longer an issue. As long as I have an iPad to use for research and the news, I’ll be content.
I guess I’d also like an airport nearby so traveling isn’t too much of a nightmare. I’d like to think that I’ll visit a few more intriguing places around the world before I call it quits. Plus, I’d like to make sure my son visits as much as possible. If I’m too remote, that won’t happen as much.
In my dream community, there would only be healthy food, preferably from a variety of eclectic dining establishments. There would also be some type of ban in place that restricted fast food franchises — that way there would never be a temptation to visit.
I refrain from fast food most of the time, but every so often I’ll get sucked in simply because I’m starving and those places are always two minutes away. The younger bodies can stave off the ill effects of junk food, but they seem more and more toxic to my stomach as I age.
So, basically, I want it all when it comes to a retirement community: safety, comfort, nature, accessibility, culture and copious activities. I see a lot of places online that promote that type of experience, but I work in marketing, so I know how those things go.
I suppose as I get closer, I’ll have to plan a trip across the country to visit a bevy of retirement campuses to better assess where I want to grow old. Of course, that’s assuming that I’m still alive and that Social Security hasn’t been bankrupted!
This week’s feature, “Barb & Star go to vista del mar,” had the makings of a retirement tour adventure, but a needless subplot pushed it into the realm of wasted time.
Written by and starring SNL alum Kristen Wiig and her good friend Annie Mumolo (the same duo responsible for the 2011 hit “Bridesmaids”), “Barb & Star” follows the misadventures of two best friends from Nebraska who travel to Florida to visit a posh vacation retreat. While there, they get sucked into an ill-conceived plot to kill everyone at the hotel.
This film and its unique main characters had the makings of a funny romp, but the odd subplot threw everything offline. This film wanted to be “Austin Powers” but there simply wasn’t enough funny material or creativity to make it happen.
A crotchety “C-” for “Barb & Star go to vista del mar,” available for streaming on Hulu. Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]