HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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social activities such as book clubs, field trips, discussion groups, movie nights and happy hour.  


The perks far outweigh the few downsides. Some communities may impose restrictions on smoking and pets. With co-ops increasing in popularity, many now have lengthy wait lists. Co-op living can also complicate things if a resident dies or becomes ill and needs to be moved to a nursing care facility. The resident’s family members will have to continue paying their monthly dues until the shares are sold. Check out www.seniorcoops.org/housing-list-2 for the largest listing of senior cooperatives by state.


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SENIOR COOPERATIVE HOUSING COMMUNITIES GROWING IN POPULARITY

From a social aspect, the co-ops are designed to bring residents together. Many feature community rooms, activity buildings, gardens and parks, which make it easier for seniors to connect. Often the co-ops offer convenient access to nearby shopping, restaurants and entertainment. Because the co-ops are exclusive to seniors, residents don’t have to worry about rowdy college students or other troublesome neighbors moving in next door or upstairs.


One benefit of belonging to a cooperative living environment is you have an equal voice in how it’s run. You have the same tax benefits of home ownership but without the hassle of home upkeep. This makes an ideal transition from long-time home ownership to a more maintenance- free lifestyle without being at the mercy of a landlord and nuisance neighbors. As a resident you own the building and land collectively with the other residents.


Senior co-ops are operated as non-profits and the target residents are middle-to upper-middle-income seniors. Typical amenities include fitness rooms, a community kitchen, a library, a workshop, laundry facilities, guest rooms, indoor heated parking and outdoor gardens. Services can include maintenance of common areas and home appliances, housekeeping for the common areas, on-site transportation and

Cooperative (co-op) housing is a different type of home ownership. Instead of owning actual real estate, you are part of a corporation that owns the building and/or land. Instead of buying an individual unit – an apartment, a house, a lot – you own a share of a corporation that owns the whole entity, entitling you to reside in a unit. The shareholders help pay for the mortgage and maintenance of the property. Most of these master mortgages are HUD-insured on a 40-year note at competitive interest rates.


Becoming a resident and shareholder has two costs: a one-time share cost (down payment) and a monthly fee. The share cost can be significant, usually 20 percent to 40 percent of the unit’s value. Typical unit prices can range from $1,000 to $225,000. Most of these co-ops have a board of directors, which is somewhat more powerful than a condominium association. They can limit who is allowed to live in the cooperative.


Co-ops can be based on common spiritual or dietary beliefs, common interests or anything else. There are numerous senior co-ops, which are generally for those age 55 years and older who are still active and independent. The first senior housing co-op began in Edna, Minn., in 1978. Since then the number of cooperatives has expanded, primarily in the Midwest.

ANGELA S. HOOVER




Angela S. Hoover is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine