Each May, the United States celebrates Older Americans Month, with each year featuring a unique theme. For 2017, older adults are encouraged to “Age Out Loud.” This theme highlights the fact that this population is choosing adventure and exploration over the rocking chair.
The act of Aging Out Loud occurs regularly within Splendido, an all-inclusive community for those 55 and better in Tucson. There, residents pursue new interests and lifelong hobbies—enjoying a range of on-site programs including education opportunities and fitness classes. They also follow interests outside Splendido, whether they are signing up for the Tour de Tucson or diving into volunteer work. Here are three profiles of Splendido residents who are Aging Out Loud:
Traveling the World
Elaine MacDonald, 77, has lived at Splendido for seven years, and jokes that she has become a seasoned traveler since moving there. “We had three kids, and I worked hard… but now I travel,” she says. She took a six-day rafting trip down the Colorado River with another Splendido resident, and took a very rainy camping and hiking trip in Chaco Canyon.
But her big trip was this March, when she visited the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. “It was a 10-day trip, with two days spent in Quito, Ecuador, where I had a chance to straddle the equator,” she reports. “I was the only solo traveler—and one of the oldest—in a tour group of 100 people.”
Elaine says the trip renewed her confidence. “I was a little scared at the aspect of traveling by myself—I had to manage the air travel to Ecuador by myself. Now I feel more confident about what I can do—including sticking my neck out that first morning in Quito to introduce myself to my fellow travelers.”
What’s next for this recently seasoned traveler? “I’ve already signed up for a cruise next year with Silversea,” says Elaine. “We’ll go from Vancouver to San Francisco with hiking and other excursions along the way.”
Flying the Skies
Like many boys, Art Fuerstenberg started building model airplanes when he was in elementary school. Unlike most, he is still building them at age 81—only now they are radio-controlled. “I have a shop in my garage here at Splendido—and it’s my whole garage,” he explains. “I’m currently building a model glider that will have an 8-foot wing span.”
Art has built around 15 gas- or electric-powered model airplanes, but these days he only flies three of them.
For 20 years, Art has been a member of a flying club that meets every week for breakfast. “There’s a lot of talking, and not much meeting going on,” he jokes. The club flies their model planes twice a week—and some fly drones at the fields of a local school.
“I like to fly [my planes] and I enjoy building them,” he says. “Though most models now are pre-fabricated; you don’t have the emotional attachment that you get when you spend two years building them.”
Asked about the benefits he gains from his lifelong hobby—beside the enjoyment he gets—he points to the fellowship of belonging to the club. He adds, “There are so many new things coming out, that you’re always learning something new.”
Trying Something New
Before he retired to Arizona, Alan Jaffe taught business classes at NYU and other colleges in the East. It was only after he retired that he decided to try his hand at art—and stumbled on a wealth of hidden talent. Four years later, his work earned a prize at the 2011 Arizona State Fair.
“I never did anything like this before,” says Alan. “Once I retired, I had the time and I was looking for a new project where I could try something new and work towards a goal.” He saw that Tucson’s Parks & Recreation department offered open studios and decided to try pencil drawing. “They don’t teach you—they just guide you. I’m basically self-taught.”
Alan finds drawing relaxing because of the concentration required. “I really enjoy it—you can completely zone out for two and a half or three hours,” he says. “It’s the best thing that people my age can do.”
He adds, “Retirement gives you the time to explore different things you never had time for. It’s the perfect opportunity to find the activities you love”—even if you didn’t know you loved them before you tried them!