Aging Well

General John Wickham works out by riding his recumbent bike three or four miles around Splendido nearly every day.

How will you spend your retirement years? These days, those on the cusp of retiring are not looking forward to resting in a rocking chair. In fact, they may try their hand at building a rocking chair, or opening an online custom furniture store. 

This trend toward active retirement is already going strong among residents at Splendido, an all-inclusive community for those 55 and better in Tucson. There, people pursue new interests and lifelong hobbies through on-site programs including education opportunities and fitness classes, as well as personal pursuits.

At Splendido, they call this RepriormentTM—not retirement. Repriorment means the joy of discovering new directions, and having the time to develop those pushed aside (but not forgotten) priorities you’ve wanted to revisit. Here are three examples of Splendido residents who are pursuing their passions:

 Finding New Creative Outlets

Anne Burns, 75, never thought she was artistically talented. But she signed up for a watercolor class in 2010 because she’d heard the teacher was good. It was the first time she’d taken an art class as an adult, and she ended up taking three straight semesters. “I wanted a new outlet, and I admired how watercolors work,” she says. “I was always a student; I’m a learner and a grower.”

In 2015, after sporadically taking watercolor classes for five years, she moved to Splendido, where the art teacher was teaching acrylics—“So I went out and bought acrylics,” Ann says. “I surprised myself by being able to pick it up and get creative at it.” 

Now she’ll head to Spendido’s art studio and paint for two or three hours when she has time and inspiration. “It’s been an outlet for me,” Ann says. “It’s all part of learning something new, which is so good for your brain. There’s a lot of mental preparation and mental stimulation to painting—plus the concentration while you’re doing it. You’re in a whole other world when you’re painting. And then you get the finished product.”

Shifting Gears on Fitness

Sometimes Repriorment involves finding new ways to pursue a lifelong passion. Such is the case with General John Wickham and his love of biking. General Wickham describes himself as “a bicycle person for decades,” who, rather than hitting the breaks on his favorite form of fitness, instead changed gears and made the switch to a recumbent three-wheeled bicycle. 

On a recumbent bike, the rider sits low to the ground in a reclining position. “It’s really safe; you can’t turn it over,” says General Wickham. His bike is built for serious athletes; it has 18 speeds and weighs 150 pounds. “I can go anywhere on it,” he says.

He points out that riding a recumbent bike uses different muscles than a regular bicycle. “You’re pushing forward with your legs. It’s a pretty good workout,” he says. “I ride every day I can. Here at Splendido, it’s about a mile circuit around the property, and I ride three or four miles a day.”

Exploring New Horizons

Teri Sullivan and her husband have always enjoyed traveling—from the many business trips she took, to RV camping. “People thought my husband and I would quit traveling when we moved to Splendido, but it’s just the opposite,” she says. ‘It’s so easy here. One of the many advantages is that our home is taken care of while we’re gone.”

Teri plans all sorts of trips, but has changed their style over time. “After I retired, I wanted to travel for fun—and that’s what we did,” she recalls. “We drove around the country in an RV, for example. Now we take planes; we like to be taken care of.”

One component of their new style is cruises, including the Baltic Sea—“a really beautiful part of the world,” says Teri—a cruise around the United Kingdom, and another from Montreal to New York. 

They recently took a fishing trip in Canada, and plan to return in 2018. But Teri’s favorite trip is the three weeks they spent in Africa. “We went to private reserves for safari. We saw every animal known to man—and got very close to many of them.”

Research has shown that engaging in activities you enjoy is good for your health. Even if you’re not yet “Repriored,” pursuing something you’re passionate about—from pedaling to painting—is vital to Aging Well.

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