"It's never going to be easier than it is right now," says Sharon Featherstone.
She's referring to her move at age 66 to Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield. "There is no arguing the financial and social benefits of moving to a continuing care retirement community sooner rather than later. I've always been a decisive person. Once I made my decision to move to Greenspring, I never looked back. I am very happy here."
No longer having to worry about maintaining a house or the uncertainty of the future, Featherstone spends her time traveling extensively. This year alone, she has traveled to Ireland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Prague, Croatia, Serbia, and Budapest. She's even made two trips to Walt Disney World with her six grandchildren.
"I have never heard a compelling reason to postpone moving," she says. "I decided to move to Greenspring as soon as I was able because, financially, it made the most sense. As a retired foreign service officer with responsibilities in budgeting and finance, I tend to look at things analytically and with a bottom-line point of view."
In addition, Sharon was looking for the social interaction that living at a large community provides. Having retired in September 2014, she missed the constant socializing that came from working full-time.
"As soon as I retired that abruptly ended," she says. "I was no longer surrounded by people all day. I couldn't substitute that living alone in my condo and I knew that I needed a solution. I could hear my mother chiding me – 'people wait too long, don't make the same mistake Sharon.'"
She and my father had moved to a community in Gaithersburg, Md when they were in their 70s and it was a truly a gift both to them – and to me. As an adult child who traveled for work, my parents' move meant that I no longer had to worry about their well-being when I was out of town. I wanted that for my children too."
Sharon's three children, initially curious as to why she wanted to move in her sixties, soon discovered the many benefits living at Greenspring offered their mother.
"I think that adult children, unbeknownst to themselves, can do a disservice to their parents by perpetuating the idea that they are not getting old," says Sharon. "Greenspring is a wonderful community where you can be as active as you want to be. I've met so many wonderful people and now enjoy the time to travel and enjoy activities that I was too busy to enjoy when I worked full time."
Of her three children, Sharon's youngest, Rachel, lives nearby in Alexandria, Va.
"She is my travel buddy," she says. "Living at Greenspring means that I am able to simply pack a suitcase, close my door, and head to the airport for another new adventure."
Sharon's 2019 calendar is already filling up with trips planned to Africa, the Canadian Maritimes, Italy, Malta, and Cooperstown, NY."My Greenspring neighbors like to joke that I am never home," she says. "But many of them keep up with my adventures on Facebook."
In between her travels, Sharon takes advantage of her multiple theater subscriptions at the Kennedy Center, Signature Theater, and the Olney Theater. She is also an active participant in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and the Democratic Club.
"Once my traveling slows down I hope to be even more involved in the many activities at Greenspring, including the theater group (the Greenspring Players) and the English as a Second Language group, in honor of my mother who founded the Literacy Council of Montgomery County."
In the meantime, Sharon keeps her suitcase within arms-reach and whenever she's in town, speaks to prospective Greenspring residents on the benefits of life at the sought-after community.
"I love talking with people and sharing my experience moving at an age when I am able to take advantage of all the many benefits living here provides," she says. "I often ask – what is the upside of waiting to get older? And you know what? I can't think of a single reason. But the reasons to start enjoying life now are endless."