Real estate is said to be about three things—location, location, location—and the same might be said for retirement. Where we live is a powerful determinant of our overall health and well-being in older age. But as we’re living healthier, longer lives and snowbirding to Florida no longer appeals to a new generation of retirees, the question is, where should we settle down?
Should you age in place, staying where you have your mortgage, marriage and memories? Should you downsize? Bunk in with adult children? Maybe you should consider the assurance of a continuing care retirement community? The choices are many and complex.
While utopia for retirement living remains elusive, there are key characteristics of what your Gerontopia might include. In our work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab and Center for Transportation & Logistics, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Transportation, we’ve developed a framework to help planners, policymakers, and developers assess the age-readiness of a community. We propose that you let AIDA—Activities, Intensity, Density and Accessibility—be your guide to assess whether your community meets both your needs and wants. The importance given to any one of these factors may be an individual choice, but each of these dimensions, in some measure, is critical to living well in older age.