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.

Perhaps because a new year is just beginning, I’m coming across a flurry of stimulating new articles on agile aging. Here’s a sampling for your possible interest and follow-through.

Jacob Epstein reviewed “Elderhood” by Louise Aronson in the Wall Street Journal:

….This is a serious, useful and important book. According to a study cited by Dr. Aronson, life, so to say, begins at 60. “Data from the United States and Western Europe confirm that most people are around sixty before they achieve levels of well-being comparable to those of twenty-year-olds, and rates climb thereafter.” Arriving at 60 and beyond presumably brings freedom from worry, lessened depression and anger, a firmer sense of one’s self and what one values, greater contentment and happiness….

Virtually all of our senior friends are wrestling with the linked challenges of long-term healthcare and housing. How can we best plan for continuing affordable healthcare when American medical costs are spiraling out of control? And what housing solutions will best fit our evolving needs during our next life-chapter? Nancy and I devoted the past 18 months to identifying and evaluating available choices. We’ve now made our decision.

Blog followers have asked me to share highlights of our learning curve. This post interweaves two strands: journal notes of our transition journey; and a profile of the senior-residence type we selected – a Continuing Care Residential Community (CCRC)

Every senior individual or couple has their own set of influences framing their healthcare and housing choices: needs, values, resources, constraints and obligations. Our experience may give you food for thought.

We’re delighted to be launched on this Agile Aging adventure. How will it play out? Where will it lead us? Who will we become?

There seems to be a strong consensus among experts on aging that pursuing a new creative passion or project is one of the best ways for a senior to sustain alertness, curiosity and productivity. And this fresh start can be most stimulating when it’s distinctively different from a retiree’s professional career. I’m hoping that blog followers will indulge me in profiling my spouse as an example. I believe Nancy’s senior pivot is informative and instructive.

Nancy Swing grew up in West Virginia and pursued a successful career as an international development consultant, working in Africa, Asia and Europe. After retiring in California, she turned serious attention to writing and publishing mysteries. THE SILVER FOXES, the final volume in her Lewiston, West Virginia trilogy, has just been published. Here are highlights from our breakfast interview at Pacific Grove’s Point Pinos Grill.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Nancy and I enjoy taking overland excursions to rediscover our native country, after decades spent living and working abroad. Here are some journal notes from one recent autumn expedition.

Getting to Our Destination

We prefer staying off Interstates, if side roads can take us in our intended direction. On this trip we loved the routes above Sacramento, rice fields and silos, then orchards along Highway 70, the Feather River Scenic Highway. Oroville and its horizon-dominating dam were a sobering reminder of the 2017 flood. Highway 32 offered an inviting serpentine into the mountains. Zigzagging along Deer Creek, it was carved out by the Civilian Conservation Corps at the height of the Great Depression in 1934.

Blog subscribers have been recommending stimulating articles and essays linking elders’ health to our focus and attitudes. Here are excerpts to give you a taste, plus links to let you read the full sources if you’re intrigued.

David M. spotted and shared this BBC piece by 76-year-old Sir Michael Morpurgo, former Children’s Laureate:

Strange thing, getting old – because I never thought it would happen to me. Well, it has, and quite suddenly too. Life these days is punctuated with little reminders. A certain reluctance, that I never had when I was young, when it comes to looking in the mirror. Full body or face. Neither merits a second glance. Mirrors are in fact a perfect nuisance. In [elevators] with mirrors all round, sometimes you catch a glimpse of the back of a head that always lacks more hair than last time you looked, less than you had supposed or hoped.

A Chocolate Soufflé

On August 5, I had dinner at North Hollywood’s Garden Bistro with my high school classmate Bill Dahlman and his wife Kathryne. Our evening got off to an awkward start. Kathryne and I were meeting for the first time, but Bill and I showed up 20 minutes late. Soon, however, initial discomfort gave way to cordial sharing. Kathryne and I traded memories of Arusha, Tanzania, where she’d passed through en route to National Park safaris and I’d worked as a young lawyer for the East African Community. Meanwhile, Bill and I were still bubbling over the detour that had made us late, circling the choice new property just acquired by our high school for expanded athletic facilities.

As our dinner moved along, I could feel us drawing together. A special dessert marked the special occasion, low-key, with no candles or choruses. It had been exactly a year since the blow that turned my friends’ comfortable lives upside down. This was Bill’s first restaurant meal in all those months. The soufflé didn’t stand a chance. We devoured every bite.

Probably no subject commands as much senior attention as aches and pains. Ailments and appointments dominate our conversations and our calendars. One friend says that his circle is so exasperated by this preoccupation that they’ve reserved the first 10 minutes of every gathering for medical show-and-tell. After that flurry, the topic is off-the-table. They’ve labeled these roundtable riffs “organ recitals.”

Our blog will return to health issues more than once as we pursue Agile Aging together. Two initial posts in this domain are devoted to contrasting but hopefully complementary contributions: an expert’s refreshingly candid advice on how we seniors can maintain our mental health (September 30); and a profile of a fellow retiree courageously confronting reduced mobility after a debilitating stroke (October 15.)