Saturday, March 26, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: Planning Now for an Independent Tomorrow

From the time I entered college, and for the next 30 years, I periodically visited my great-aunt Caroline in her apartment in New York City. She was opinionated, active and independent, was a volunteer English teacher to foreign-born high school students, and took the subway alone until she was 90 years old, despite poor vision and hearing. 

From my visits with Caroline I learned about how to structure my living situation to keep me independent as long as I could be. 

For instance, she said, "Always make sure your house or apartment has two bedrooms and two baths, so you can get live-in help when you need it." Such a moment seemed very far in the distant future to me, then, but I filed it away and went on with my young life.

Now that I'm moving towards later phases of life, anticipating the possibility of reaching the age of my parents' generation, I think more about how to take care of my current and future needs. . 

While there are lots of well-run, socially engaging, supportive retirement home options out there, along with being extremely expensive, living in one of them would deprive me of most of the things that are important to me in my daily life. 

Here are some of the things that matter to me: 

  • the company of my dog 
  • enough space for him to play and to be walked where he can interact with friendly neighbors 
  • visual and tactile access to the earth and to plants and native critters like squirrels, geckos, birds and butterflies 
  • a yard with space for small gardens that I can tend and enjoy
  • easy access to outdoor space throughout the day and evening
  • visual access to other people's lives and dogs as they pass by my window 
  • daily chats with neighbors who enjoy seeing my dog and me walk by 
  • walking access to basic shopping and dining, including the opportunity for casual discussions with the people who work there 
  • going out for a couple of hours each night to enjoy food and live music in the midst of other people
  • a managably sized house that I can maintain myself, with occasional help from a handyman and lawn service
Recognizing that I can't find most of these things at a retirement home, and that I can't afford to be in one anyway, last year I implemented phase one of my own plan to age in place, to create my own NORC (naturally occurring retirement community): 

With the help of a versatile handyman, I created a separate guest suite in my small house. For now, it provides me with needed income to keep up with mortgage payments, as I host visitors to my city for short stays. Longer-term, though, it will allow me to have live-in aides if I reach a point where I can't do all my daily support tasks myself. 

A recent outpatient surgery provided me with the opportunity to try phase two of my NORC plan. Because I'd be returning home right after coming out of general anesthesia, I needed someone to pick me up from the surgery center and drive me the few blocks to my house. I decided to ask a neighbor I knew only from walking my dog past his house. Over the years, we'd become friendly, and it was clear that we shared similar values about everyday life. I decided that this was a good time to suggest an exchange of reliability: I'd be here for him if he ever needed help, and would be grateful if he'd help me now. He said he'd be happy to be my post-surgery ride home. 

Because I didn't have anyone at home who could ensure my safety after I returned post-anesthesia, the surgery center said that I had to hire home aides to stay with me for 24 hours. Here was phase three of my NORC plan: I called a local home aide service and arranged for 3 shifts of CNA companions to stay with me. This reminded me of Aunt Caroline who had regular aides to help her with household tasks when she was living alone in her New York apartment. Now, apparently, it was my turn to add this layer to my own support system.

Since I'd already created my guest suite, I was able to accommodate the aides who stayed with me. It never occurred to me when I finished the suite last year that I'd get a chance to use it for this purpose so soon, but it turned out to be perfect timing, and it worked smoothly.

Now, as the scent of spring flowers starts to float through my neighborhood, I'm grateful to be living in my own little house, with my dog in the garden, sand under my feet in the yard, neighbors nearby, and access to the everyday delights that are important to me. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Natural Food Restaurants in Sarasota

If you're looking for healthy natural food restaurant menus in Sarasota, with an emphasis on vegetarian choices, check out these local rating and review sites:

Keep in mind, too, that Sarasota is known for its international cuisine options. Indian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Mexican, and other specialty restaurants usually have many vegetarian options on the menu.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Notary Services: Processing the Documents of Life

There are times in life when we need documents witnessed or notarized in order to proceed with important events. Sometimes you can take care of this detail at your local bank or copy shop, as long as there's a notary on staff. 

But on other occasions, you'll need to find a professional document processing service to provide the witnessing and notary required.

Here are two examples: 

Recently I had to get a mortgage document notarized. Conveniently, I was able to bring it to my local bank, where my account manager notarized it for me as a customer-courtesy. Easy.

But, when I updated my will a few days later, I found out that neither the bank nor the local copy shop would notarize wills. 

Luckily, I'd saved the contact information for a notary service I'd used a few years ago when the same situation came up. For a very reasonable fee, Jennifer Moore, of, notarized my documents and served as a witness, too. 

While there, I learned that Jennifer's original business was--and still includes--officiating at weddings (and renewal ceremonies) in the Sarasota area. She has created happy marriage ceremonies for hundreds of couples over the last 20 years: "My specialty is working with couples to start a 'ceremony dialogue', listening to what is questioned or desired, and then, delivering those sentiments in a heartfelt and professional manner on their wedding day!"

Interestingly, her notary services have become useful again and again over the years for some of the same couples as they move through life's important events. "It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to realize that I can bring calm direction to times of loss as well as to occasions of joy," Jennifer reflects.

While law firms also provide document processing services, using a notary service is much less expensive, if you have a legal document that's already been written by professionals.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Organic Produce in Sarasota

Two great resources for fresh local organic produce in Sarasota are:
  • Worden Farm - huge booth on State Street at the Sarasota Farmers Market, every Saturday from 7AM - 1PM
  • Jessica's Farmstand4180 47th St, Sarasota, FL 34235, (941) 358-3895; hours: Fridays: 12PM-7:30PM, Saturdays: 8AM - 5PM, Sundays: 11AM-5PM. Sarasota's original organic farm.

Fish & Seafood Restaurants in Sarasota

Recently a few visitors to Sarasota have asked me where they can enjoy a good meal of seafood. 

Here's a selection of fish and seafood restaurants in Sarasota. If you try each one of them, it's a good way to experience various parts of town!

  • Downtown: Barnacle Bill's
  • Bayfront: Marina Jack's
  • Burns Square: Owen's Fish Camp
  • Siesta Key Village: S.K.O.B., Hub Baja Grill, Aaron's Fish Camp, The Lobster Pot
  • Tamiami Trail: Walt's Fish Market
  • St Armand's Circle: Crab & Fin
  • Casey Key: Casey Key Fish House

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: Neighborhoods Close to Downtown

Sarasota is not a "walk everywhere" town--it's too spread out--but there are neighborhoods you can live in that give you easy access to shopping and close enough proximity to downtown and the beaches. 

I think of Sarasota as a city of "pods": Each pod, or district, is walkable, but you need a car, or bus, to get from pod to pod.

While houses and condos in downtown, Burns Square, Gulfstream Drive and Laurel Park can be prohibitively expensive, the following "east of the Trail" neighborhoods offer affordability and access to local shopping:
  • Arlington Park
  • Alta Vista  
  • Paver Park
  • Gardens of Ringling Park
  • Tamaron
  • Riverwood Park
  • Phillippi Gardens
Consider adding them to your drive-around list when shopping for property to buy in Sarasota.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Natural Foods in Sarasota

  • 1451 1st St at Central Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236
Super Value Nutrition

  • 4892 S.Tamiami Trail, The Landings, Sarasota FL 34231
  • 5842 Bee Ridge Rd near Cattlemen Rd, Sarasota FL 34233
Trader Joe's (technically, a "specialty retail grocery store", rather than a health food store, Trader Joe's offers many healthful shopping options and the best prices in town to judge by its instant popularity)
  • 4101 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL 34231

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Boomers Relocating to Sarasota: Home Health Services

You may be thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, I'm not ready for home health aides yet. I'm a healthy Boomer." Well, you may need "a little help from your friends" sooner than you think. As the saying goes, "Stuff happens."

For instance, if you live alone in Sarasota and need to get outpatient surgery, who's going to pick you up from the surgery center? Who's going to be at home to check on your post-anesthesia-wooziness or temporary physical weakness? 

Maybe you have friends or neighbors who can be there for you, but if you're new to town, maybe you don't.

Here's a handy list of local service providers, should you need a little bit of temporary assistance: