How co-housing works and why it’s good for our health as we age

Whether you call it co-housing, shared housing or an intentional community, the conversation about this lifestyle is becoming more active for good reason. The potential benefits are huge and it’s a great way to manage costs in retirement. It deters loneliness, a common problem for seniors. And it’s the perfect way for vibrant, older adults to remain active and engaged in life as they age. But since the concept is not yet mainstream, people are confused about what it is.

You’re in good company if you’ve considered downsizing or an alternative way of living in your later years. The idea of less space and less maintenance is appealing after children have moved away. And we’re still healthy, active people with a lot of life left to live, so a mainstream retirement home isn’t always appealing. That’s why this concept of co-housing is so exciting. It’s another option for older adults who aren’t ready for a 300-unit independent facility with an attached assisted living.

In a co-housing community, tenants typically share certain amenities and areas of the home. The kitchen, dining room and living room are places for community-building, while tenants can also retreat to their private bedroom suite. It’s a lifestyle that offers the perfect balance of privacy and community, especially for boomers who value independence.   

I created Vibrante Living with this vision in mind. I wanted to give four older, active women the opportunity to share a home in the heart of Minneapolis. But co-housing is much more than sharing space. It’s more than renting a room. It’s creating an intentional community. I envision the women living at Vibrante building the kind of friendship and community that will stave off loneliness. I envision the women encouraging each other, well into their later years, to embrace all that life has to offer.  

Co-housing is gaining momentum because we know that daily social interaction comes with health benefits. The loss of a spouse or family and friends moving away can lead to loneliness, but a 2010 AARP study found that social networks ease these feelings. Communities such as Vibrante make it easy to fill your later years with the love, laughter, and togetherness that we crave and that keeps us going long past retirement. Co-housing can be about exploring the world together.

Baby boomers are leading this movement for good reason. We want to stay active in the larger community, not segregated in senior-only housing. Co-housing also gives people the opportunity to stay in sought-after urban locations. There is affordability and security that comes with sharing amenities.  

As you move toward retirement, do you envision yourself surrounded by other like-minded women? Are you an outside of the box thinker, do you lead an active, engaged life?  I’d love to talk with you more about Vibrante Living or other co-housing options that are sure to keep your life big!

Exercise as we age: Tips to get moving at any fitness level

You’ve heard the message loud and clear: As you age, choosing a fitness routine that works for your body is more important than ever. I’ve created Vibrante Voyagers, a Facebook community where we can encourage each other – near and far – to break out of our comfort zone and try fun new activities, which could include anything from a walk around the lake to exploring a nature sanctuary.

Join us to share your goals and achievements, and to learn from others who are navigating fitness during this stage of life. The good news is anything counts, as long as you get moving! The potential benefits are huge: disease prevention, stronger balance and strength, and improved mental health to name a few.

I have been training for the YWCA’s Women’s Triathlon and have learned a lot along the way. Fitness is a lifelong pursuit. Being fit is just as important as learning when to push yourself and when to slow down and rest. I don’t look at the triathlon as a race as much as a gathering of like-minded women (all 1,700 of us) to share in the uplifting energy that exudes from this group. My goal is to finish the race without injury and with joy in my heart. I’ll be participating with my niece; friends and family will be cheering us on!

Today is the day to start. Take the leap. Invest in your health. The rewards will be worth it.

Make fitness something to look forward to. Start slowly. But, start nevertheless. Focus on these three areas of fitness:

●      Strength: Loss of bone mass is a concern for older women, and strength training is great for prevention. Keeping your muscles strong is also important to maintaining independence as you age. Start with light weights, or if that’s too intimidating, squatting in and out of a chair count, too! 

●      Balance: Prevent falls by focusing on balance exercises. Try a yoga class at your local senior center.

●      Flexibility: Make stretching part of your daily life. Maintain the elasticity of your joints and muscles so you don’t lose range of motion, which is important for everyday activities such as tying your shoes, reaching for something on a high shelf and driving. Also, stretching is great for your circulation!

Here are a few ideas to make exercise fun:

●      Grab a friend for a walk around the neighborhood. There’s nothing like great conversation to pass the time. Reward yourselves with coffee afterward.

●      Listen to your favorite music or an audiobook as you move.  

●      Take a brisk walk around the mall while window shopping. Yes, that counts as exercise!

●      Pursue hobbies such as bird watching or nature photography as a way to get moving.

If taking on this challenge with a group of women appeals to you, join my Vibrante Voyagers Facebook page and share the link so your friends can join us, too. This can be a group of women from all around the country supporting one another via Facebook. Wouldn’t it be fun to share your latest fitness achievement or your best tip with someone on the other side of the country? On the other side of the world? Let’s make that happen!

And if you live nearby, join Vibrante Voyagers as we explore Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary in Minneapolis. We will meet August 6 at 9 a.m. at the garden entrance. See you there!

Breaking out of your comfort zone comes with great personal reward

You know the feeling: butterflies in your stomach, heart beating a little faster, your stress level rising. These may be signs that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. Staying in your comfort zone is familiar and safe. But it’s time to embrace the growth and transformation that comes with changing your routine. Expanded social circles and new experiences and challenges have the potential to add much personal meaning to your life. It’s worth the risk!

As you age and move through some of life’s biggest transitions – maybe retirement or a move from your longtime home – you’re already being forced into new territory. By going one step further and trying new activities, meeting new people and making bold choices about how to spend time, you may just tap into a side of yourself that you didn’t know existed.

Maybe you’re missing your work colleagues or your neighborhood friends, but just think: Someone you meet at the pool this summer may be a member of your card club next winter. Soon you could be surrounded with like-minded people who encourage each other to step out and take on new adventures together.

I created Vibrante Living hoping four independent women would create a retirement community that encourages a healthy, active lifestyle. You can do the same with a friend or take the first step on your own. It might lead to new friendships. It will certainly lead to personal growth.

So, it’s time. Step out of your comfort zone. One of these activities might be the perfect place to start. If you’re not a Minnesotan, don’t worry! Use this list as a jumping-off point to find similar activities in your community.

For the outdoor enthusiast: AARP is hosting an educational, group bike ride this month along the Mississippi guided by National Park Service Rangers. You’ll meet new people while taking in new parts of our beautiful city! If hiking or paddling is more up your alley, check its calendar of events for other upcoming fun. Another option: Once a week, try a beach or pool you’ve never visited.

For the music lover: Outdoor summer concerts are a great way to explore new parks while surrounding yourself with other music lovers. You can find entertainment every day of the week thanks to Minneapolis’ Music and Movies in the Parks series. 

For the history buff: The Minnesota Historical Society offers unique walking tours around Minneapolis and St. Paul. These are a great way to learn something new or rekindle memories of days past.

For the art lover: Grab a friend and head to a festival. The Stone Arch Bridge Festival and Uptown Art Fair, both in Minneapolis, are great options. You can find others every weekend throughout the summer. Volunteering at a festival is a great way to meet art lovers. Or, once a week, explore a new museum.

For the person who’s just not sure: Maybe you don’t know what to try, but you’re ready to take the leap and do something new. Your local senior center is a great resource. Here’s one with everything from card games, crafting and shopping to discussion groups and fitness classes. Look up your local senior center and choose something that stretches you.    

Just remember, you may be missing out on quite a lot by sticking to your routine. There’s a rich, wonderful world for you to explore. If you’d like someone to help you take the leap, give me a call! Or, ask to join my new Facebook group, Vibrante Voyagers. We’d love to welcome you for a brisk walk around the lake or simply a cup of coffee. If you crave some friendly moral support as you break in some brand-new habits, I guarantee we’ll provide it! And if you think living among like-minded women is the push you need, I expect openings at Vibrante in June 2020.  

Join me in growing bolder as we grow older

We’ve earned wisdom, experience and knowledge with every wrinkle and each gray hair. Why keep those gifts to ourselves? Let’s set an example of the wonderful contributions older adults can make toward the vitality and richness of our communities. This is Older Americans Month. I am inspired by the Administration for Community Living’s 2019 theme – Connect, Create, Contribute – because it closely aligns with the tenets of Vibrante Living’s community lifestyle.

This is how we should be living! Remaining active and connected is directly associated with better health and more happiness. If you’re not already doing so, ease these three aspects into your everyday life. Connect with other like-minded adults, create a life filled with personal enrichment, and contribute to your community by volunteering.

Just say yes to life, and figure it out as you go 

In your mind, you probably feel decades younger than your calendar age. Your dreams shouldn’t have expiration dates. You finally have the time! Start using it. Give yourself permission to try something new. As the saying goes, “What if I fall? But oh, my darling, what if you fly?” Be that person who spends their days pursuing fulfillment.

●      Connect with others: Try a new restaurant, visit a museum or go bird watching with others. Turn your favorite hobby into a time for social interaction by finding people with your same interest. A senior center is a great place to find a group to play cards with regularly. Grab a friend and take a walk around the lake.     

●       Create a life filled with enrichment: Take a cooking class or learn to speak a new language. Join – or start – a book or film club. Take yoga or water aerobics at the community center. See if you qualify for the free SilverSneakers fitness program through your Medicare plan.

●      Contribute to your community: See if your local food shelf or animal shelter could use a helping hand. Maybe there are skills you used in your professional life that you could volunteer in retirement. Participate in a community garden. Use this AARP search tool to find a service project in your area.

Sometimes we need a little nudge to take on new activities or challenge ourselves. The National Institute on Aging highlights health benefits that may be just the encouragement you need. 

Keep your mind and body strong

●      Staying involved in activities that bring meaning to your life may lower your risk of developing dementia and other health problems and may increase your lifespan. It may also help prevent feelings of isolation and depression.

●      Research is looking into how being involved in the creative arts may help with memory, comprehension and problem solving.

●      Physical activity is shown to reduce the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes.

●      Stronger muscles mean a reduced risk of falling and a better chance of maintaining your independence.

The benefits of staying active are clear. And the options for being involved are endless. Start small by trying one new activity. You might find yourself energized and ready to take on even more. I’m launching the Vibrante Voyagers Facebook group to help motivate and encourage you. If you are in the Twin Cities, please join us for our first meeting on May 28 at 9 a.m. We will start with a one hour bike ride and then relax over coffee afterward. Details will be on the Voyagers Facebook page.

Even knowing the importance of staying engaged, you might have entered retirement without a plan to make it happen. It’s time to think about where your interests lie and jump right in. If getting involved sounds better with the encouragement of like-minded women, then a shared-living environment such as Vibrante might be right for you. I expect openings in June 2020. Reach out to me and I can help you decide if it would be a good fit!


Use these questions to plan for a successful, happy retirement

Take a moment to envision retirement. How will you fill your days? Where will you live? How will you stimulate your intellect? What will you do all day, every day?

We need to make plans for when we don’t have an office to go to every day. Work provides a sense of purpose and mastery that’s often missed in retirement. If we don’t have people who pat us on the back once in a while, where will it come from? It blindsides people. Alcoholism rates are going up with boomers because they’ve retired and have no purpose. We need to talk about this!

Making a transition into this new stage of life takes planning. It took me a few years to adjust and be okay with it. You probably put a lot of thought into other life stages such as attending college, getting married, starting a business, or having children. Ensuring your later years are rich and rewarding depends on that same level of focus.

This last January, I blogged about using the word ‘transition’ instead of ‘retirement’. We’re healthy, vibrant people who need intellectual and social stimulation. Whether a shared-living community such as Vibrante is part of your future or you don’t yet know what’s to come, it’s time to start considering how you will make a successful transition.

Ditch the old-fashioned way of thinking that says our senior years are merely a time to slow down and relax. Instead, I encourage boomers to think about filling their days with volunteer work or other engaging clubs and activities. Prepare for this transition by surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are excited to follow their curiosity and find new passions. These are a few ways to ensure our later years are just as rewarding as our earlier years.

When you began your career, you may have had a mentor to inspire you. Now is the time to find a role model or mentor who emulates positive aging. Then create your own transition plan by asking yourself some important questions. 

●      Where will you live?

●      Will you continue to work part time?

●      Do you need to find a group of like-minded people?

●      How will you stimulate your intellect?

●      Will you live close to family/kids?

●      How is your physical health?

●      How do you feel about income change or not receiving a paycheck?

●      How will you spend your time?

●      What gives meaning to your life?

●      To whom will you matter?

●      Who will you interact with and socialize on a regular basis?

●      How will you feed your physical body and soul?

●      Do you have a back-up plan?

●      Can you afford to retire?

You aren’t the same person you were when you were just starting out in life. You’re wiser and more experienced. Use these questions to discover who you are now, and what you need in your daily life to feel happy and fulfilled. And if you don’t have a mentor or role model, give me a call! I’d love to discuss this list over a cup of coffee. With anticipated openings at Vibrante in June 2020, now might be the perfect time to begin planning if you think our community would be right for you.


Downsizing and decluttering: Where to start and what to do with all that stuff!

It happens to all of us: If we live in one place long enough, we accumulate excess stuff. Clutter isn’t just a problem of overstuffed drawers and closets. It can also be stressful. If you plan to downsize and perhaps move to a shared living environment such as Vibrante Living, you may first need to purge decades of possessions. This can be an extremely freeing experience!

That’s one reason why professional tidier Marie Kondo is enormously popular. This decluttering guru has sold millions of books, translated into several languages, teaching people how to streamline and simplify their lives. In one interview, she explains that decluttering “captures the feeling of choosing only the things that spark joy for you.” She added, “We are beginning to give more attention to each item we own and determine the few things that truly matter.”

In other words: Decluttering can make you happy. It trains your mind to focus on what’s most important. As a bonus: Life becomes less complicated.

How to get started

  1. Take one task at a time. Decluttering can feel overwhelming, so don’t try to do it all at once. Maybe start with one drawer. Or, just your shoes. If it takes days, weeks or months, that’s okay. Think of how long it took to accumulate all this!

  2. Sort items into three categories: Keep, trash or give away. It’s hard to let go of some things. Don’t rush your decisions. Consider each item individually. Think quality versus quantity. Do you really need all those coats? When was the last time you used some of those serving pieces? Keep the things that make you happy or that you use frequently. Trash anything broken or worn out. Donate, sell or recycle things you haven’t used (or even seen!) in years. Ditto: anything that no longer fits or is out of style.

  3. Create a separate pile for things you can’t justify keeping but you aren’t ready to part with. Is there someone in your life who could really use one of these items? Would the young family down the street appreciate something that’s been gathering dust in your cabinet? Knowing that these special items will be well loved often makes parting with them easier. 

Where to donate items for the most good

You may already have a favorite thrift shop or nonprofit organization that will accept your “still good” items. If not, here’s a list of several to consider. Most are here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. You can also consult for a list of reputable charities near you.

● Accepts even unpaired shoes in good condition.

●      Arc’s Value Village: Accepts household items, clothes, kitchenware and appliances.

●      Bridging: Accepts artwork, clothing, appliances and other household items.

●      Leonardo’s Basement: Accepts tools, lumber and miscellaneous items collecting dust in the garage. 

●      Sharing and Caring Hands: Accepts electronics including TVs as well as clothing.

●      Tech Dump: Accepts old computers, printers, batteries and other electronic devices.

Remember: We’re anticipating having openings at Vibrante Living beginning in June 2020. That’s plenty of time to declutter so you’re fully prepared to enjoy the freedom of a downsized, simplified life!

Celebrate the love and richness friendship brings to life in retirement

February may be filled with clichés focusing on romance, champagne and roses. But fulfilling, happy, long-lasting relationships come in many forms. In fact, the love and companionship we all crave is often found in friendship. This is why Galentine’s Day – a celebration of your gal pals – is something many of us can appreciate as we age. I created Vibrante Living to give women a place to share their feelings, be heard, be respected, be loved. It’s a place for women to nurture traits we treasure most in our closest relationships.  

I love watching The Golden Girls because it’s packed with life lessons. Most importantly, it taught us that life’s second act can be amazing, especially when you treat your friends as your family. These four women created an incredible sense of belonging. Aging often means children have moved away. Maybe you’ve dealt with the loss of a spouse. But if we’re able to create and depend on strong friendships in our life, we’ll always have love to celebrate in February.

Strong connections have been shown to increase overall health and longevity. So, especially in today’s technology-driven world, it’s important to put effort into connecting with others. Social media has its benefits, but it can’t replace what we gain from face-to-face time with friends and loved ones. The relationships that will sustain us and nurture us through life are built from strong, personal connections.  

What sets Vibrante apart from larger retirement communities is that there’s built-in space for fostering intimacy and companionship. It’s harder to find that when you live in a 300-unit building. The impact of women retiring to smaller communities, where they can actively enjoy life’s later years together, could be great for our health because we’ll create more of the intimate relationships we need. And if Blanche taught us anything, it’s that 60 is the new 40! That means that many dinners, nights at the theater and walks around the lake with friends are in our futures. We don’t have to slow down, especially with friends to encourage us.   

Do you remember the Valentine’s Day episode of The Golden Girls where the women’s dates were all no-shows? They instead spent the night together, noshing on desserts, laughing, telling stories, reliving memories. If you can envision a night like this in your future, celebrating Galentine’s Day surrounded by like-minded women at Vibrante Living, I’d love to talk with you. We anticipate openings in June 2020.

Fill life’s transitions with hope, curiosity and purpose

What comes to mind when you think of retirement? Slowing down? Leaving paid work? With people living healthier and longer, our generation may redefine what retirement means or maybe get rid of the word altogether. What if, as we reach our later years in life, we instead use the word transition? Transition into a stage of life that’s filled with purpose and engaging activity. Instead of dwelling on what’s ending, let’s focus on the rewarding experiences to come.

Think back to some of life’s most important transitions: moving out of your parents’ home, maybe getting married or having children, starting a new career. These moments were filled with excitement, anticipation and a whole lot of hope for what was to come. We may be older, but we should face our current and future transitions the same way. So many of us want to remain active in retirement! Be confident that this will be a meaningful, fulfilling stage of life. I created Vibrante Living to help women thrive in their later years.

As 2018 ends and a new year begins, what’s stopping you from finding joy when considering your future? Do you worry about losing your community of work peers? Maybe you wonder how you’ll fill your time. Stop dwelling on the question, “What will I do with the rest of my life?” You don’t need all the answers before you take a leap.

Remind yourself:

●      Your work doesn’t define you: Too many of us have started to believe that we are what we do. This makes us anxious to step away from work. Remember, you are so much more than your career. Your personality traits that helped you find success at work will do the same for you as you seek new challenges in your later years.

●      Quiet time isn’t wasted time: We spend too little time reflecting on what’s important when we’re immersed in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Slowing down doesn’t mean you’re wasting time. Reserving time to be still and reflect may help you appreciate your stage of life. Enjoying a long, slow cup of coffee with a friend sounds like a perfect way to ease into this mindset.  

●      Embrace your curiosity and find new passions: We never lose our curiosity. Use yours to find new ways to fill your time. If you’ve been the queen of takeout, maybe a cooking class is in your future. It’s never too late to learn a new language. Volunteering could be a rewarding way to use your skills formerly reserved for work. 

Get out and tackle what should be an exciting time in your life. I love what journalist Linda Ellerbee once said: “What I like most about change is that it’s a synonym for ‘hope.’ If you are taking a risk, what you are really saying is, ‘I believe in tomorrow and will be part of it.’”

If you are interested in possibly moving into Vibrante Living or another shared living environment, please give yourself plenty of time for planning purposes. We anticipate our next availability in June 2020. Let’s connect in the meantime! I’d love to sit down with you over coffee or chat with you over the phone about some of the things you might need to consider for this next stage of your life.

Anyone who loves and cares for you can be called your family

When you think of “family,” what comes to mind? Maybe you think of your siblings, children and grandchildren. But in addition to your traditional family, you may have a chosen family. Those are the friends who have supported and loved you for decades. As our families come together at Thanksgiving, each will look a little different, but what’s the same is that we all care for one another.

Most families evolve throughout the course of life, and sometimes it’s difficult to adjust to these changes. Perhaps your immediate family no longer lives nearby. You might even feel like your family is getting smaller. That’s what’s wonderful about a broader definition of family: You can always choose to expand your family in new ways. Filling your life with a family of choice is a great way to feel secure and loved as you go about your day-to-day activities. 

When I think about what a family looks like, I consider my own youth. I was raised in a family business that was literally in our backyard. If we were eating lunch or dinner and a customer was around, they were invited to join us. Everyone was always welcomed at our house. And until the day my father died, he was still welcoming old customers and neighbors into his home. Some of those folks are still in contact with my family.

I consider my friends of 25 years my family. My best friend of 40 years is family! Family is the friend who helps you celebrate milestones, who shares your concerns and who you can be yourself around. They’re just as willing to share a laugh as a cry. They’re by your side for the mundane and they’ve got your back as you seek out a new adventure.

A Pew Research Center survey found that 76 percent of adults say their family is “the most important” element of their life. You never know when getting out and meeting new people could be the start of your extended family or when it will add to the one you’ve already got going. When I started Vibrante Living, I wanted to create a place where four women could find companionship and hopefully form family-like bonds. These deep connections help you feel energized and excited to tackle all life can offer. 

Even if your family of origin is still together, having a second family filled with friends will bring extra joy to life. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, the important thing to remember is that your family is where your heart is, so as long as you’re surrounded by loving people, you have a family. I’d love to talk more with you about making these kinds of connections later in your life.

Embracing change as you age means new, rich adventures are surely ahead

Many of us aren’t satisfied with standing still. We may have a few more aches and pains, but we still want to stay involved and challenged. While it’s certainly true that some people get stuck in ruts as they age, they may just need a gentle nudge to break out of their current routine. Altering how you think about change may inspire you to embrace new adventures!

Change doesn’t mean you’re losing what you’re moving away from. This can be hard for us to remember, especially as we get older. It’s not easy leaving the home where you’ve spent decades raising a family. Focus on your past experiences as the necessary foundation for new adventures. Be thankful to that house and for those memories. They continue to serve a purpose. Everything you’ve done in the past is what’s brought you to this point where you’re ready to tackle things you may not have done before.

Retirement is your opportunity to fill your days with rich and fulfilling interactions. Whether you’re joining a club, making new friends or trying a new activity, lifestyle changes can be invigorating. Remember, you bring a lifetime of experiences into the lives of those you meet. You’re enriching their lives as much as they will yours! 

I was in my sixties when I created Vibrante Living. I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a risk because I wanted to give other women an easier means for taking bold, new steps in life by surrounding themselves with other like-minded companions. I believe shared living concepts such as Vibrante can encourage and support the big life changes that will keep us thriving in our later years. Being in the company of other women who also value new experiences makes the initial transition easier, and frankly more fun!

Aging no longer means slowing down. Today is the perfect time to try something new. Volunteer, take a class or visit that restaurant you never had time to try while raising a family. Staying active and engaged is good for our health!

Change in life is constant, so what if we all agreed to interpret it differently? Let’s look at all the possibilities change can bring and spend less time fretting about what could go wrong. Science shows our brains don’t like uncertainty, so you’re not alone if you find change difficult. Reframing how we think about new challenges is key. One of my favorite quotes is, “When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”

If you are considering a change in your lifestyle, please give me a call. I’d love to give you some of my favorite tips for getting unstuck.

Staying connected will benefit your health and happiness in retirement

Feeling a sense of belonging – in your neighborhood, among a small group of friends or to a community organization – can greatly impact your health and happiness as you age. “I think people are craving that,” I said in an interview with Face Aging MN. “We all need purpose. I don’t care if you’re 20 or 90. We need purpose every day.” I created Vibrante Living because I believe shared living that encourages strong connections – among housemates and throughout the community – will inspire older adults to live vibrant, engaged lives.

I was so happy to talk with Face Aging MN about the importance of building community with our aging neighbors. Their campaign strives to raise awareness about issues facing our aging population in Minnesota. This is an issue close to my heart. Aging can be isolating if we don’t mindfully make choices that keep us connected. Strong social connections make us feel loved and valued. Some studies show that the impact of isolation and loneliness on our health may be equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day! But where can we make these kinds of connections? 

For many older adults, family is the first place they turn for quality, fulfilling relationships. But if that’s not possible – maybe your kids all live out of state and you live alone – finding strong connections elsewhere is important. One of my favorite suggestions is to volunteer for a cause that’s meaningful to you. This is a great way to meet like-minded people. Or join a social group such as a book or garden club. Retirement is the perfect time to take a cooking class or to learn Spanish. You can meet lifelong goals with the secondary benefit of connecting with others. 

The very best way to make sure you’re feeling connected is by choosing a living situation that encourages strong relationships. We often think downsizing to an apartment or condo is the best choice as we age. Or maybe you’ve thought about moving into a large retirement complex. But you may still be lonely while surrounded by hundreds of other people. I believe sharing a home with a small group of like-minded women, such as at Vibrante, may be the best way to ensure a joyful, purpose-filled life.

Vibrante brings four women who might otherwise be living alone together to share a private home. Living among a small group often encourages more camaraderie. Vibrante is situated in the heart of a Minneapolis neighborhood, and as I told Face Aging MN, creating smaller, alternative housing options for seniors in their own community is a great way to help them keep lifelong connections strong.

If you are age 55 or older, let me know how you stay connected. Do you wish you had greater opportunities to interact with like-minded people?

ActiveOver50's Senior Housing Guide ran my article on community aging

I’m always eager to tell others about the wonderful benefits of shared housing. The sense of community it creates may help us live longer, healthier lives as we age. Thanks to the editors of ActiveOver50 magazine for including my article in their senior housing guide. “Community and independence are not mutually exclusive,” I wrote, and this is why small, shared living situations like Vibrante are a great a retirement option for active older adults.

Several articles throughout this special edition of ActiveOver50 highlighted the importance of avoiding loneliness and isolation as we age. Another clear theme was the growing number of boomers who want to remain active in retirement. One adventure travel company specifically caters to older travelers. Another story talked about retirement communities that include everything from gyms to organized outings that appeal to their residents who want to live an active lifestyle.

“Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you suddenly lose interest in the things you’ve been passionate about. In fact, now you may even have more time and energy to enjoy them,” I wrote. Knowing this, I included a concierge service when I designed Vibrante Living. There’s so much to do and see in our community, and I want to enable the four women living at Vibrante to have their best years yet.

Vibrante is a single-family residence featuring four private bedroom suites with en-suite baths. This community-style living, in the heart of Minneapolis, allows women to enjoy each other’s companionship while living in a private, home environment. This is a great way to keep loneliness from creeping into our lives as we age!

ActiveOver50 magazine has grown significantly over the past decade, likely because businesses realize that active seniors make up a large, growing segment of our population. In the next 30 years, the over-65 population will be larger than the younger generations. I’m grateful for being able to help grow the conversation about helping people thrive as they age. 

Would a shared housing concept be a good fit for you? Or maybe you have a friend who could benefit from a community like Vibrante’s. Share my blog with your friends, so we can show others the value of community living while actively aging.

Thanks, Face Aging MN, for including me in your conversation about aging

The more we talk about aging, the closer we’ll come to ending the stigma often associated with getting older. I was honored to encourage these important discussions in an interview with Face Aging MN. The goal of Face Aging MN is to create a conversation that leads families, community leaders, caregivers and legislators to embrace the responsibility that comes with a rapidly aging society. It was great to talk with representatives of this campaign because, like me, they are passionate about ending ageism and supporting Minnesota’s older adults.

Face Aging MN looks for ways to improve gaps in elder care. I shared a story about a need that I helped fill in my community for more volunteer drivers. A simple act – driving a neighbor to the store – significantly impacts people facing new challenges as they get older. 

One of the organization’s top priorities is making sure all of Minnesota's older adults have high-quality housing, an issue close to my heart. I created Vibrante Living because I saw an unfulfilled need for retirement housing for women who want to remain active and who value a small community of like-minded women. Getting older doesn’t look the same for everyone, so we need to create options. I hope Vibrante reaches women who feel that a large retirement complex is not the best fit for them.

During the interview, I said “I think the more we talk about aging, the more we see it, which is a good thing. It’s a call to action.” Working together we can create support systems to care for our elders. Change will come by using our voices, starting at the local level. “We need to have these conversations with city council members, with our neighbors,” I told Face Aging MN. “We need to start talking or continue to talk. We’re ill-prepared in this country for the older adult population and how we’re going to care for them.”

Thank you, Face Aging MN, for your advocacy and for talking with me. As with their work, I hope Vibrante Living helps more Minnesotans embrace aging. Vibrante is located near Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. It’s a unique living situation that enables four active women to share companionship and involvement in their older years. I believe every woman deserves to live a joyful, purpose-filled life as she ages.  

If Vibrante sounds like a good fit for you or someone you know, I’d love to talk more about my vision for women living at Vibrante. Call me at 612-816-6940 to talk or set up a tour. 

My Aging But Dangerous interview explored why shared living is trending

It’s always great to talk with other women who share my passion for living active, engaged lives as we get older. I recently did a live-streamed interview with Jean Ketcham, CEO of Aging But Dangerous, an organization with the goal of helping older women live with spirit and style. Aging But Dangerous creates events for women who know their next big adventure is just around the corner. This is in line with why I created Vibrante Living. Aging doesn’t have to mean it’s time to slow down.

I was thrilled to learn that Ketcham has always wanted to create something like Vibrante. She sees a great need for this kind of shared living in our community and all over the country. Viewers watching our live interview wrote in to ask how they could start a similar home in their part of the country.

Ketcham asked what prompted me to start Vibrante Living. We agreed there are many baby boomers out there who want to live vibrant lives, in smaller communities where they can make real connections with others. I saw that Vibrante could fill a housing gap that exists for women who live independently but feel that life at home, alone, is isolating. There are many large complexes for 55+ adults, but as a social worker, I know that you can feel lonely even if you are surrounded by hundreds of other tenants.

Quality of relationships is so important. My love of the show Golden Girls helped drive my vision. At Vibrante, four women live together in a home with lots of beautiful, shared living space. Each woman also has their own suite with en suite bath and plenty of private space. It’s perfect for women who value building strong friendships. This kind of companionship keeps us healthy as we age. And it’s just a more fun way to spend our later years! You’ll come home to the lights on, and possibly a friend to share a story and a cup of coffee. 

Ketcham was interested to hear if Vibrante would be expanding beyond our first house. Once the word gets out about all the benefits to this kind of community – companionship and shared living truly keep us healthy and happy – I hope to add more homes. I see this as my contribution to older women in my community. Regardless of age, we should be able to live interesting, active lives in loving, caring environments.

If you share my vision for how your later years should look, give me a call at 612-816-6940. I would love to meet you and give you a tour of Vibrante.

Age better by living among other purpose-filled women

As we think about aging, we often focus on the physical: what we need to do to keep our bodies strong, enabling us to live active, rewarding lives long into retirement. Diet and exercise are obvious factors, but our emotional health also impacts how we age. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that older adults who have a strong purpose in life slowed their physical decline. This is good news because it’s a factor that you can control, and this is part of my vision for the women at Vibrante Living.

Living a purpose-filled life may mean something as simple as having a friend to share dinner with. Or maybe it means something bigger to you: traveling to places you’ve never been, volunteering for a cause that’s close to your heart or learning a new skill. These are the kinds of experiences that will help you age with strength and meaning.  

The study found that older adults living with a sense of purpose had a 13 percent decreased risk of developing a weak grip and a 14 percent decreased risk of developing a slow walk. This demonstrates that caring for our emotional health has a positive effect on our physical health.

If you need more proof that a purpose-filled life can help you live longer and stronger, look no further than people such as Aleksander Doba, who kayaked across the Atlantic at age 70 so he could feel alive in his old age; or look at Jane Fonda, who at 80, shows no signs of slowing her thriving Hollywood career. Their strength in their later years is almost certainly due in part to continued dedication to things that bring purpose to their lives.

Filling your life with meaningful experiences is easier in a shared living community such as Vibrante Living. Vibrante brings together four smart, interesting women so they can cultivate the kinds of relationships that are sure to lead to a purpose-filled life. Vibrante can help you set up meaningful volunteer work, help you plan your next trip or find the perfect place for dinner with your friends. Thanks to its urban setting in the heart of Minneapolis, you’re surrounded by cultural activities, biking and walking trails and world-class dining, all things that, with a friend by your side, are sure to keep you actively loving life.

If you want to remain active in your community, all while surrounding yourself with other purpose-filled women, consider Vibrante Living. Call me at 612-816-6940, I would love to tell you more.

Vibrante's shared living concept puts your bucket list within reach


One of my goals for Vibrante Living is to help women live a joyful, purpose-filled life as they age. Maybe that includes knocking some of those items off your bucket list. I’ve seen estimates that more than 91 percent of us have one!

We all spend time thinking about the milestones and experiences we want to accomplish before the end of our lives. Maybe your bucket list focuses on travel: walk the Great Wall of China, ride a gondola in Venice, go on an African safari or castle hop across Europe. A lot of times our bucket lists also are filled with personal goals we haven’t had time to focus on while raising families or advancing our careers. Maybe you would like to learn a new language, take a cooking class or try yoga for the first time.

But even better than enjoying those life experiences would be doing so with the companionship of other vibrant, like-minded women. Vibrante Living offers four women the chance to experience life together in a shared living community, without giving up their independence. This alternative living environment enables women to naturally build relationships while offering amenities similar to big retirement complexes on a smaller, more personal scale.

Vibrante’s concierge service makes achieving life’s goals as you age easier and more enjoyable. Would you like someone to book your plane tickets? Or maybe you need help finding a French class that’s a good fit? Would you like to secure tickets to see Hamilton when it hits the Orpheum Theatre? These are all things Vibrante’s concierge will take care of for you. 

If your bucket list is distinctly more Minnesotan, or if you love to make the most out of everything our area has to offer, Vibrante’s location is perfect for you. The remodeled, urban home is located just off Lake Nokomis in the heart of Minneapolis. Each private suite has a view of the lake, and each day can be an adventure. Walking and biking trails, a thriving dining scene, and the theater and arts are all nearby and easily accessible.

And when you decide to start ticking items off your Minnesota to-do list, our concierge service will take the work out of the planning. We’ll help you plan your trip to see the Northern Lights, tour the state’s waterfalls, try dog sledding or even sign you up for a polar plunge. (OK, that last one isn’t really on anyone’s bucket list, is it?)

My vision for Vibrante is to bring together active, educated women who love to learn and live life to its fullest. They may be divorced, widowed or never married, and this would be a space where they could find friendship and companionship.

If you are interested in learning more about how Vibrante Living can help you live your later years of life, give me a call at 612-816-6940. I am happy to set up a tour or meeting.

Vibrante's shared living concept draws global attention

When I first conceived of Vibrante Living, I never anticipated that it would attract interest from around the globe! The concept of providing a shared residence for four vibrant adult women aged 55+ is resonating with a lot of people. I am proud to be the first to be making it a reality.

Baby boomers have a broader view of the types of services and options they want as they enter the last 30 years of their lives. That’s why some corporations are now designing massive adult living complexes that offer travel services, healthier meals and other amenities that suit a more active lifestyle.

But you and I know that not everyone will thrive while living in a big complex. You can be lonely surrounded by people. The quality of your relationships matters.

As an alternative shared living environment, Vibrante Living will enable women to build friendships naturally. And my personal concierge service, similar to that offered at high-end hotels, will help ensure these women have everything they need to continue living big, abundant lives.

I’m so appreciative of everyone who is sharing my posts and sending me encouraging responses. It takes a village to bring a new concept to life. I’m receiving inquiries from women currently living as far away as the west coast. I’ve also had positive comments from followers in England and The Netherlands. I’m beyond excited.

Above all else, I want to prove that this idea has merit and that it is a viable solution for active baby boomers who don’t want to return to an empty house day after day.

We all need ongoing companionship if we are to remain healthy and involved in life. Some studies show that the impact of isolation and loneliness on our health may be equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Vibrante Living is a labor of love. America needs this concept. I look forward to sharing more updates with you very soon. 

FOX 9 reporter explores new living concept for older adult women

FOX 9 was so intrigued by the Vibrante Living concept that producers sent one of my favorite reporters, M.A. Rosko, to tour our beautifully remodeled Lake Nokomis home. Thanks to Rosko's skilled interview, the story turned out so great, they aired it four times!

Living options for active, independent women aren’t plentiful, but as Vibrante’s founder, I’m working to change that. And if it reminds you of the popular television show “The Golden Girls,” well, that’s no coincidence. They were in mind when the concept was created.

Rosko calls my concept, “Golden Girls living for modern times.” When I was asked about similarities, I told her, “Well, they had fun. They were up at midnight eating cheesecake and drinking coffee. They cared for each other, they loved each other. They ended up being really great friends.”

It was a thrill to give Rosko and her camera person a tour of the home. She seemed impressed by the shared living spaces. She also commented on the wonderful views of Lake Nokomis from each of the private suites. These suites are currently blank slates, waiting for the personal touches of the women who move into them. When women do move in, I expect them to bring their big, full lives. It’s important for us as we age to keep our lives active and interesting. I think that’s easier to do with a small community of like-minded, progressive women.

I’m also thankful to Rosko for telling viewers that Vibrante also features amenities that aren’t found in the average home, including concierge service. If you’re tired and have had a long week, I can arrange to have food brought in or even bring a chef into the house. If you are looking for activities, I can arrange tickets to the ballet, opera or theater; yoga classes; book clubs; educational forums and more. It’s all about keeping your world big.

As the U.S. population ages, more alternative living options for seniors who don’t want to live alone will be needed.  Ten thousand people in the United States turn 65 every day, and will for the next 19 years. This boutique living concept will grow more common as the population gets older.

If you are interested in seeing Vibrante for yourself, call me at 612-816-6940. I would be more than happy to give you a tour and share my vision for women who are vibrant and engaged in life.


Five ways for seniors to find joy this holiday season

The holidays can be a lonely time for many people, especially if you don’t have family nearby. One of Vibrante’s goals is to keep our members connected to the community, which is especially important at holiday time. While families and friends may be spread across the country, there are still ways to find joy this time of year. Here’s a list to get you started.

  • Take extra care of yourself. This becomes especially important when stress levels tend to rise. If you’re not sure where to start, consider taking a meditation class, which can teach you how to relax both physically and emotionally. Your activity level doesn’t matter, anyone can participate.
  • Assess your living situation. It may seem like a big step, but if you are feeling isolated during the holiday season, maybe it’s time to consider a new living arrangement. Shared living options, such as Vibrante, may be your best alternative to living alone. Vibrante provides fellowship that evolves from living with carefully chosen, like-minded people.
  • Organize outings with friends. Others may be feeling a little alone at the holidays, too. Gather friends and neighbors for a fun excursion. The Minnesota Orchestra offers senior ticket deals for groups. Their Sunday matinee series and Thursday morning coffee concerts offer senior groups of 10 or more $29 tickets for a variety of shows. Their facilities are fully accessible with amenities including bus parking, accessible seating and assistive listening devices.
  • Lift your mood by helping others. Lots of charities are desperate for volunteers during the holiday season. Give some time to others by volunteering at a local food bank or neighborhood community center. It’s a great way to meet new people and gain perspective on your own blessings.
  • Make some new traditions. If you are feeling the absence of family, fun and friendship, realize it is what it is and be kind to yourself. Read a funny book, enjoy a crossword puzzle or do a craft. Call family and friends who are far away. Pamper yourself with a trip to the salon or buy yourself a little gift that will bring you joy.

It can be hard to get through the holidays when you are feeling lonely, but taking time for yourself and giving to others can really help.

Try these resources for other ideas on making the holidays bright.

Feature article confirms Vibrante has a unique story worth telling!

What a great welcome to the neighborhood! Thank you to the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger and reporter Margie O’Loughlin for this full-page feature article on Vibrante. As I told O’Loughlin, “Vibrante is much bigger than me; it’s about changing the narrative of how we age.” It’s nice to have the local media embrace our unique senior living concept. I hope to show you what we’re all about during our upcoming open house.

Boomers do it our own way

Vibrante is about staying engaged with life as we age. Baby boomers have always changed the world around us, and there’s no reason to stop trailblazing now! I told O’Loughlin, “Since the 1960s, we’ve changed the way everything works in our country. We’re not going to go out quietly.”

More than just a place to live

The article does an excellent job of describing both the newly renovated home and the unique services Vibrante provides. As I said in the article, “My vision is simply to create a space that can hold four spicy, older, independent women—one that offers them the right balance of shared space and privacy so that they can continue to live happy, full, and satisfying lives.”

In the sidebar, I describe the six things that women should consider to bring them happiness and fulfillment as they age.

Join us during our open house

If the idea of Vibrante intrigues you, stop by our open house on Thursday, December 7 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The house is located at 5455 Woodlawn Boulevard in Minneapolis. Light appetizers will be served. Those who bring a nonperishable food item, benefitting those in need during the holidays, will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Target gift card. I would be more than happy to show you around.