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On Aging with Dr. Roger Branch Sr.: On the move
Branch WEB
Dr. Roger Branch Sr.

For most people, the post-retirement stage of life now lasts for decades. Even those who "hang it up" in their 70s may live another 10-20 years. Many who work in organizations that offer earlier retirement can and do choose to move on after 20-30 years. Preparation for retirement involves two major issues. The first is financial security. The other has to do with activity and location.

Too few people make and follow dependable financial plans. Even fewer think about what they will do and where they will do it. Release from the ties of work in a particular place using a particular set of skills can be liberating, opening opportunities to do new things in new places. However, not everyone thinks seriously in advance about what they really want to do with that part of their lives.

Historically, people aged "in place" remaining in the same place, usually in the same homes. Among farming families, one of the children remained in the home and cared for parents until their death and then inherited the home place. A similar pattern could be seen in other occupations with offspring following in their parents' footsteps for generations.

However, the modern world is mobile. Children grow up and find careers that require them to move frequently either because of promotions within their work organizations or because they advance their careers by taking new positions with other organizations. Of course, those who choose careers in the armed services and some religious denominations are moved often. Aging "in place" is no longer typical nor is it possible to rely on offspring to support the elderly in the place where they have always lived. Indeed, it is not unusual for parents to move to be near their children, especially when they become more dependent.

Different questions are now in order whether people are thinking about changing a pattern living for years in one place or ending a career of necessary relocation by moving to a place of one's own choice.

There is a joke about a man who was retiring. When asked about his plans for the future, he replied that he was going to sit down in a rocking chair on his porch and then after a couple of years, he might even begin to rock. In truth, most people find inactivity to be intolerable. Life demands content. There are interesting things to do and interesting places to do them.

Among my friends was a couple who had worked diligently, bought and paid for a nice home and raised a family of admirable offspring. To the surprise of almost everyone, when they retired, they sold their home, bought a comfortable RV and took to the open road. There were places to go and things to see, so they went and saw. They developed a circuit of favorite places and favorite RV parks with Parkview in Statesboro as their base. When the wife developed health problems, they traded the RV for a house but treasured the experiences and friendships they gained from their years on the road.

Second careers in new locations are nothing new among retirees from military and similar systems that offer retirement after 20 years (limited pay) to 30 years (full). Friends from Georgia Southern have gone on to teach in other schools. Military retirees are found in law enforcement, elected office, education, public administration and corporate office. A small but growing number of people decide to do what they had been wanting to do for years but could not because they needed to stay with their jobs to assure financial security in retirement.

Many retirees move to retirement communities.However, some seniors feel that life in retirement communities is a bit like living on an island. They prefer the challenges of the larger community. Drawbacks to this option including access to transportation and services and limited number of houses designed for those with disabilities that usually come with aging.

Southern Georgia could become a new place of choice for retirees. Although the climate is often hot and humid, this can be managed with air conditioning and being snow-bound is not a challenge. Things that must be solved include total accessibility, a full range of medical specialists and hospital capabilities, transportation, emergency response capabilities and dependable public utilities, especially in case of weather-related disruptions. City and state leaders can sell South Georgia to retirees from other places. But why? Well, they come with money. Ask about the impact of Sun City in coastal South Carolina. They come with talents and experience. They are valuable.


Roger G. Branch Sr. is professor emeritus of sociology at Georgia Southern University and is a retired pastor.

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