Where Will You Retire?
As is the case for most parish ministers, I often feel fairly inundated with aging issues. How to care for aging elders, how to receive care as an aging elder, deciding when it's time to move to assisted living, how to get into the good retirement communities, how to pay for it all. When to revoke driving privileges. When to stop the treatment, or to refuse the final, invasive surgery.
Alzheimer's. Broken hips. Biopsies. Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About the Visiting Nurses Association But Were Afraid To Ask. Orthopedics. Catheters. Spending $60,000 to make the house handicapped accessible, only to have the beloved one die soon after.
I would really like to retire someday. I am at the age where I am starting to really look forward to it, and read my Fidelity statements with a lot more interest than I did at age 30. But like many do-gooders of my generation who live in an unbelievably exorbitant housing market, owning property is a distant dream and I actually don't know if I'll be an old lady living in her own home at any point in my life. If I choose to stay around the Boston area and keep working in ministry and education, heck, I'd rather rent and live somewhere halfway decent than have to commute from some "fixer-upper" 1.5 hours away.
I used to think it would be impossible to retire. I figured I could never let go of speaking, pastoring, teaching, writing, studying toward some professional purpose. Lately, however, I'm thinking that it will be mighty fine to put my feet up someday and do nothing more intellectually strenuous than grow basil. And I mean for years at a time. Lord, hear my prayer.
My sister and I talk about communal retirement living pretty regularly. We both feel that, given the high numbers of single, child-free people in our generation, it makes sense to consider our futures together, as communities, without expecting that we can all do well (or even be happiest) going it alone. And given what I've seen of multi-generational living arrangements, I would think that many parents might also consider communal living in their senior years. It's not that children don't welcome parents into their home: they do, and I'm amazed by how often they do, and with what a true sense of welcome and desire to help. But it's HARD fitting into your child's household, even if they have one to offer you. Maybe you'll be glad to be able to hold off on moving in for a few years. Maybe communal living can help you do that. For singles, we have to take care of each other.
I have a fantasy of owning a big Victorian with friends, and making several apartments out of our house. Maybe a communal kitchen. A nice yard. A garden. Walking distance to public transportation. A good church somewhere nearby, and senior services available for good medical care. I think it's insane for Gen X and Y not to start thinking earnestly and often about how we are going to deal with the geriatrification of America. If I was in my 20's, I would definitely consider going into eldercare as a career. I think there's TONS of money to be made in it, and it would be fulfilling. I am going to get my nephews thinking entrepeneurially [did I just make up that word?] about providing services to the elderly. With all those Boomers heading into their 60's, my boys will be of the perfect age to make a fantastic living opening and running boutique retirement homes, don't you think? And with all the money they'll make, they can do something terribly altruistic. That is, if they don't take to Chinese and Persian as languages and go into international relations and peace work.
So anyway, look for PeaceBang's Home For Old Broadway Lovin' Pastors sometime in about 2036. You can come over for Spaghetti & Sondheim Night.