One goal of this Agile Aging blog has always been to keep informed and stay engaged, maintaining a vibrant senior life. Easier said than done in recent months, as the coronavirus pandemic has locked us down and hemmed us in. Compounding these constraints, the hotly contested election has dominated the information flow with fleeting statistics, partisan spin and anxiety-provoking commentary.
In the midst of this tumult, I reached out to a recent publication that takes a longer perspective, looking beyond our immediate stress to ask where are things going and what can we do about it.

From mid-March through July, pandemic precautions at our retirement community forced Nancy and me to shelter in place. August broke this pattern, taking us far off-campus, not once but twice. These unanticipated expeditions caused me to fall behind in blog reporting. With today’s post, I’d like to do some catching up, sharing highlights of that eventful month.
By popular demand, you’ll also find more reading recommendations.

As our spring/summer isolation stretched from weeks into months, Nancy and I noticed an increasing number of empty resident parking slots. Our neighbors were apparently slipping away. Casual inquiries revealed that more than nearby medical appointments were involved. Many of these extended absences involved sojourns at second homes or lingering visits to offspring. Since we had neither of these connections, we didn’t pay more attention.

I’m writing this at Morro Bay, where Nancy and I are hovering after self-evacuation from our retirement community to escape the billowing smoke and spreading Santa Cruz fire. More on that adventure next month. For now, let’s focus on the virus.

It’s looking increasingly likely that the COVID-19 pandemic will remain with us for the foreseeable future – nationwide and worldwide. For sure, through the end of this calendar year; but probably beyond, through 2021 or even longer. In this post, I’d like to glimpse how fellow seniors are adapting to that extended timeline: restructuring projects; recalibrating strategies for coping with personal challenges.

In response to subscriber requests, I’m also tossing in more summer-reading recommendations.

July kept us sheltering in place in our Bay Area Retirement Community. Early in the month, we were quarantined in our apartment for one week as a precaution after off-campus medical appointments. Let me share with you my notes on mid-summer activities, readings and reflections.

Before getting started, I’d like to warmly acknowledge Nancy Swing’s creative contribution of photos in this and prior Agile Aging posts. Her fresh visualizations of familiar subjects never fail to enhance text and tone. Shabash!


            One welcome reminder from this pandemic lockdown is that we don’t always have to be busy. Especially for retirees, and even more so for quarantiners, it’s okay just to be still. Jumping up from the breakfast table to scroll through overnight emails may be a habit. But it’s not an obligation. This morning, almost guiltily, I ease into a rocking chair and tune in to the birdsong. A full combo, with riffs and refrains. Are they here every day? Have I not been paying attention?

            Coffee tastes so much better consumed aromatic and hot. A different experience entirely from a cooling cup neglected on my home-office desk. The warm flow down the hatch is key to the pleasure.

Marooned in June
The core Shelter-in-Place component of the State of California’s coronavirus containment strategy requires citizens to stay at home, except for limited categories of permitted activities. Our retirement community’s management has further narrowed those exceptions to essential (not routine) medical appointments. CCRC residents going off-campus for such appointments must notify the administration in advance and then self-isolate for two weeks of apartment quarantine on their return. The rationale for this stringent lockdown is to prevent exiting residents from bringing the virus back into our vulnerable elder village; 14 days is the virus’s average incubation period.

At the end of May, California is cautiously reopening. Governor Newsom and county authorities are gingerly initiating a phased relaxation of the shelter-in-place restrictions they’d imposed in mid-March to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a still-sequestered resident of a California retirement community, I’m understandably focused on how this saga is going to play out for me, my wife and my peers.

Here are two forward-looking questions much on my mind:

1) How are we seniors likely to respond if, as seems plausible, we’re kept in lockdown for a continuing indefinite period?

2) And once we do emerge, how are we likely to have changed? 

To enrich my own observations, I’ve reached out to a circle of senior friends residing around San Francisco Bay. I find their contributions thoughtful and thought-provoking.

As 2020’s winter surrenders to spring, Covid-19 is dominating our lives. Here in our San Francisco Bay Area Retirement Community, April has witnessed sweeping adjustments.

I’d like to use this blog post to record and report how this emerging “new normal” feels on the ground. When we moved here, Nancy and I had no inkling we’d signed up for a sequestration seminar. But it’s offering a full syllabus of Agile Aging challenges and opportunities.

The coronavirus crisis is escalating so rapidly that a month feels like forever. The pandemic’s global and national dimensions are expanding exponentially, spinning out of control.

Here’s a ground-level journal of how the surging storm began to penetrate the perimeter of our elder village.

            March started routinely enough in our CCRC. Our family calendar was crowded with on-campus social engagements and activities. Nancy and I were re-booked for a half-dozen lunches and dinners with fellow residents. (We’d had to defer these welcoming invitations while Nancy underwent marathon medical tests probing her excessive weight-loss. Thankfully, all test results were negative.)    

            Two live musical performances were scheduled during the first half of the month – a chamber recital and a national boys’ chorus. Weekly movie screenings were also on tap.

Peer Profiles can motivate and mobilize us by sharing innovative solutions to common challenges of aging. Blog followers during the first year of publication have consistently commented that they find stories more instructive than lectures, personal vignettes more relatable than aggregated statistics.

Here’s the story of one senior couple who crafted a distinctive approach for transitioning to a retirement community.

My December 15 blog post, “Moving On: Transitioning to a CCRC,” introduced Nancy’s and my search for a senior residential community. At year’s end, on an accelerated timetable, we made our move. I’d like to use this paired January post to pick up the narrative thread, sharing highlights of our relocation experience plus some first impressions of our new home and lifestyle. Here’s a journal of transitional steps and stages.

Central Coast Goodbyes

       We were deeply touched by the kindness of Monterey Peninsula friends, hosting lunches and dinners to say au revoir. We all talked candidly at these gatherings about our respective senior residential plans. What I expected less but appreciated more was that somehow our pending departure seemed to spark opportunities for unprecedented intimacy and bonding. It was as if we were all tacitly aware that we might never again be together on the same neighborly basis, so these last shared moments ought not to be squandered on movie reviews or casual chitchat. Instead we quietly took advantage of these final moments to confirm our feelings for each other and what we care about.