Senior Living takes on many meanings

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older couple piggybacking
To some it means a retirement home; to others, the emphasis is on living!
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Think about what Senior Living means to you.

Senior Living must be important to you, or you wouldn't be reading this article. The fact that you are reading about it online, shows that you're interested and aren't one to curl up and curl away into that vast wasteland of aging without a purpose!

Perhaps you are at that stage in your life that you want to downsize your home and have been considering moving to community of like minded seniors. If you do decide you want to move to a senior community—the best thing you could do would be to do very careful and thorough research. Don't just take the word of someone who knows someone at ABC (or XYZ) community. You have to select one that's right for you - ideally, one that focuses on health and wellness of the mind, body and spirit – and weaves that focus into every aspect of life in that senior community or retirement village or whatever name it's called by!

Research doesn't mean looking through brochures. It means physically visiting, talking to residents, checking out programs and checking out personnel. It also means finding out what medical facilities are nearby and what the staffing is. Senior Living should concentrate on the living aspect of your life—wherever you decide to settle.

Just because you're reached that magic number that throws you into the "senior" category (usually 65, although people over 50 are eligible to enroll in AARP programs), it doesn't mean that your life and activities that interest you suddenly come to a screeching halt. Senior Living is what you, personally, make it. Continue with those activities and even expand them. As long as you're physically able to, there's no reason to stop what you've been doing. Retirement age doesn't necessarily mea you have to retire. More and more seniors are continuing to work well into their 60's, 70's and even 80's. Many, after they retire from their current jobs, take up a whole new profession. It's up to you.

There are many senior citizens walking clubs that meet at local malls and gyms that cater to the "older" set. Indoor fitness centers offer plenty of opportunities for seniors to work out at their own level. Some tips if you're hesitant about using a public gym: Get a more realistic image of what gyms are really like. Members come in all shapes and sizes, and you won't be the only person in spandex. No one is going to focus on you. Most people are busy working on their own routine. You might get a few glances as "the new kid" but people quickly go back to their own activities. Try going at "off" hours. To help get past the shock of working out in public, go during off-peak hours - late morning and mid-to-late afternoon. You'll also get more attention from the staff at these times. Also, bring a buddy for support. There is safety in numbers, so enlist a friend at the same fitness level as yourself to brave the gym with you.

On the hand, if physical conditions have been some limitations on your activities, there are many products available to make your life easier—from vision enhancing glasses to easy to use household gadgets, like grabbers to reach high shelves and long handled utensils and gardening tools. Just check out the many online sites that offer a wide variety of products that will make your Senior Life easier and more productive.

Many seniors often curtail their driving; however, there are many things you can do to make your driving experience more pleasant. Night driving, for example, can be challenging for all drivers, but especially seniors. Why? Ninety percent of a driver's reaction depends on vision, and vision is severely limited at night. Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are compromised, especially in older drivers. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as 30-year-old.

To minimize after-dark dangers, the National Safety Council recommends these steps: • Clean your headlights often and make sure they are properly aimed. • If in doubt, turn your headlights on. Lights will not help you see better in early twilight, but it will make it easier for others to see you. Being seen is as important as seeing. • Reduce your speed and increase your "following" distances. It is harder to judge other vehicle's speeds and distances at night. • When following another vehicle, keep your headlights on low beam. • If an oncoming vehicle does not lower its beams from high to low, avoid glare by watching the right edge of the road and using it as a steering guide. • Make frequent stops; don't drive when fatigued. Night driving isn't the only challenge for seniors. Sometimes just being in a high-traffic area can make you nervous. It's natural to slow down, but remember that driving below the speed limit creates hazards as well. If you cannot safely maintain the minimum designated speed, you should choose a less traveled route.

In addition to these tips, you might want to consider attending an AARP 55 Alive Driving Refresher Course. These are offered across the country at various locations. This eight-hour class reviews with you the rules of the road and what you need to be more aware of as an "older driver". The cost of the class is $10. Several Auto Insurance companies will give discounts to their clients who participate in one of these classes. Check with your auto insurance company.

Remember—Senior Living is what you make it, so enjoy it!

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