Lessons on Aging from Margaritaville

margaritaville bell policy center

Margaritaville: The mythical land of endless sun, beautiful beaches, and bottomless drinks. Too good to be true, right?

Not according to Latitude Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett’s housing communities for individuals aged 55 and older. Highlighted recently in a New York Times Magazine article, Buffett’s communities reimagine aging. Instead of the stereotypical period of loss and deterioration, Margaritaville paints one’s later years as a time to engage with new ideas, meet new people, and participate more fully in community.

Related: Colorado’s Commitment to Older Adults

Financially, Margaritaville isn’t for everyone. Latitude Margaritaville homes are expensive, at least $230,000. Many older adults on fixed incomes already have difficulty affording housing less expensive than this. In fact, nationally, the number of older adults facing homelessness is growing due in part to rising housing costs and stagnant wages.

Though not universally accessible, Margaritaville, through its emphasis on community and participation, can still offer us important lessons on aging. Buffett’s communities are walkable, with plenty of easily accessible amenities, and designated spaces for residents to gather. This intentional design can help combat a problem many of us face as we age — social isolation. With older age, many of us lose the ability to connect with a wider social network, often due to constrained transportation options. Importantly, social isolation has been linked to an increased prevalence of dementia, chronic illness, and depression. Opportunities for community connection can help to address this issue.

However, more than just fostering stronger social connections, Buffett’s model stresses one’s older years can be a time of growth and possibility. Given the right social supports and financial security, we can continue building relationships, capitalizing on our experiences, and contributing to our communities as we age. In Colorado, organizations like Boomers Leading Change demonstrate this on a daily basis.

Related: Focusing on Colorado’s Future: What Our New Leaders Must Do

Not all older adults can live in a place like Margaritaville — nor would many want to even if they could afford it. However, we don’t need to open a Margaritaville in Colorado to benefit from Buffett’s approach to aging. Instead, as a state, we can invest in enhanced transportation options for older adults, support initiatives that combat social isolation, and intentionally engage older adults and value their contributions to our communities. By doing so, we benefit from Margaritaville’s lessons about connectivity and the value older adults bring to our communities.

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