There are many reasons for Eagle County to plan for and foster the many Baby Boomers who are here already and those who will migrate. Curtailing the estimated $43 million annual loss to our economy from seniors leaving our community in search of medical services and retirement options may be important reasons to some people. Others may look at the social and economic benefits of a community with a balance of age groups.
In this past Friday’s Vail Daily, Kathy Chandler-Henry, an Eagle County commissioner, wrote a fabulous commentary addressing and bridging the societal and economic benefits of making our community “whole.” The commissioner’s perspective on the interrelation of our youth and seniors strikes at the heart of what a community is and should be.
Most of us living in Eagle County have migrated here and have left our parents and siblings elsewhere. We have uprooted our lives and sought out a place where similar values, lifestyles, philosophies and like minds are shared and treasured. While we embark on our careers and develop families, we should stop and recall on our own development as children. Something is missing here in our community.
KIDS NEED GRANDPARENTS
Where are our children’s grandparents?
When I grew up in Los Angeles, both sets of my grandparents lived within 30 minutes of my parents’ home. We often spent at least a couple weekends of the month visiting them. My dad’s father would often take me and my brothers to the Hollywood Bowl, where we were introduced to jazz and classical music. Other times, my grandparents took us to the beach, pool, parks and away from our parents — allowing them a reprieve.
Within just one short generation, our family dynamics have changed so much. The frequency in which children grow up and stay within the community or state which they had grown up is not as widespread as it once was. This is not unique to those of us here in Eagle County or even the U.S. It’s a world phenomenon. Modern technology and access to affordable travel now enable our youth with the ease of separating their personal and professional lives.
For those of us who have moved here to Eagle County, we have made decisions of what’s important to us. However, it does not have to be a situation of have and have not. Many of my contemporaries have had their parents move to the area. Some have asked their parents to come, and in other situations, the parents have just come. While having your parents too close is often the butt of many jokes, I see the situation working out quite well and even find myself a bit envious.
Seniors have a wealth of knowledge to impart to the young. Our elders often have stories to tell and lessons to share. As the young and the elderly learn from one another, a great kinship can be developed. Many studies have shown that children who grow up close to their grandparents are likely to feel more rooted and loved.
Castle Peak Senior Care Community
The most notable addition to our community that will assist in fostering our ability to attract and sustain our elders will be the Castle Peak Senior Care Community. As Chandler-Henry points out in her commentary, “keeping recovering residents and older generations in the county helps all of us stay connected.” Other projects geared to embracing our community’s seniors are out there as well. While not definitive, there are talks about a senior living community being considered not too far from the proposed Eagle River Station project in Eagle.
According to the AARP and numerous other studies, Boomers are choosing less congested areas that are adventurous and where physical fitness lifestyles are prevalent. Following thereafter, many are choosing to move near their children and grandchildren. Hello, Colorado and the mountain towns!
There is also a growing trend occurring across the U.S. — college towns are proving intriguing to seniors. The Boomer generation is a highly educated and physically active group. They are not retiring to the staid lifestyles of Arizona and Florida golf anymore. Many are seeking a vibrant cultural with active, intellectually stimulating and intergenerational diversity. Doesn’t this describe our marvelous mountain town?
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.