Life in Baltimore: Enjoying the retirement lifestyle, Part I

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As many people contemplate retirement there are many things to consider before making the move. After financial assessment and planning, the next question is “What will I do?”

You want to have an enjoyable life after working all those years. You have progressed to a stage in life where you have time to do whatever you want. No longer do you need to worry with raising a family, or running a business, working for a boss, or any other obligation that kept you from doing the things you wanted to do as a younger adult.

Retirement should be a time to reinvent yourself, and to engage in travel and activities you enjoy. Now you need something that will keep your retirement age jumping and hopping. The first step is making sure you are healthy enough to enjoy your free time. An active life also means finding people that you enjoy being with. Try something that you always wanted to do but did not have the time, money or courage to do.

Six ways to transition into an enjoyable retirement lifestyle are:

•Stay active: Trade inactive time for active time by walking, or exercising regularly. Maybe join a dance class. Do a weekly physical activity to improve blood circulation and release endorphins.

•Learn something new: Don’t stop learning— the options are endless. Enroll in a class, learn a language, read your way through a book list, join a book club, learn a new skill.

•Stay social: See old friends, volunteer service to an organization, spend time with family, engage in activities at the senior center, focus on a new career, and join people you like for lunch or dinner.

•Spend time with young people: Volunteer at a school, be a mentor, coach a team, or teach in a continuing education program at college or university.

•Travel: Go on a road trip with friends or travel overseas to another country.

•Join a cause: Join an organization that you believe in.

The retirees who are highlighted in this article represent examples of leading an enjoyable lifestyle. Though their activities vary, their ideals are basically the same, that is, being active, being grateful and giving to the community through volunteering.

Russell Jolivet is an avid golfer who retired eleven years ago as chief of Human Resources at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. He recommends having a hobby that you can participate in at least three days a week and set time to volunteer. Russell works part time at the Forest Park Municipal Golf Course, plays golf and volunteers his skills at the University of Maryland Rehabilitation Hospital teaching golf skills to former patients to facilitate their recovery. He and his wife, Ernestine have traveled extensively.

When asked how she spends her time, Ernestine Jones-Jolivet, a retired master teacher said, “Enjoying life, thanking God for each new day and spending quality time with my two beautiful granddaughters who are in middle school.”

Ernestine considers herself a health advocate since the death of her mother from Alzheimer’s disease and her father from vascular dementia.

“From the time my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my family has worked relentlessly to help bring awareness to the African American community about this devastating disease that affects African Americans disproportionately. We know that knowledge is power so we decided that education was the best way to help our community,” Jones-Jolivet said.

When her parents died, family and friends were asked to make donations to the Alzheimer’s Association in lieu of flowers, which proved to be the beginning of her efforts to educate the community about the disease that robs people of their memories. The first Caregiver Conference was held in 1992. With monetary donations along with contributions and resources from the Alzheimer’s Association, Coppin State University, Helene Fuld School of Nursing and Johns Hopkins Medicine and others, Jones-Jolivet and her family established The Pythias A. and Virginia I. Jones African American Community Forum On Memory Loss.

This forum is free and open to the public. The 10th anniversary of the forum was commemorated November 2014 with a poster entitled “Now and Forever” by the local artist Larry Poncho Brown. The eleventh forum will be held at Coppin State University on Saturday, November 7, 2015.

“Losing both parents to dementia, my steps have been ordered by God to be a health advocate. My goal is to one day see a world without Alzheimer’s, ” Jones-Jolivet said.

For the past six years, Jones-Jolivet has served on the board of directors of the Alzheimer’s Greater Maryland Chapter. She and husband Russell danced in the 2010 Alzheimer’s Memory Ball, “Dancing Stars” raising approximately $27,000.00 to fund support services, educational programs and research. She was appointed by Governors Martin O’Malley and Larry Hogan to Maryland’s Virginia I. Jones Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Council, which is named after her mother. She began Alzheimer’s Awareness Purple Sunday, now Purple Weekend, which is in its fourth year.

Jones-Jolivet suggests to anyone planning to retire to thank God everyday and enjoy life and that way you should never get bored because there is plenty to do.

“To whom much is given much is expected. Share your time and talents with family, church, friends and those in need. The Alzheimer’s Association is always seeking volunteers or mentor a student,” Jones-Jolivet said.