Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sun City; Blue Haired Living?

                                                         Life In A Senior Community                                

This blog is about living within a senior community and the first thing I want to say is that I moved here when I was fifty-five and in nine years I've yet to see anyone with blue hair.  That castigation is often given to older folks by young folks too stupid to realize that, if they're lucky, they too may grow old.

Sun City, Arizona is the first and oldest planned senior community in the United States.  There are now half a dozen Sun City communities around Phoenix now but I live in the original.  This one division has over 30,000 homes and consists of three Phases.  Phase 1 is the oldest, with Phase 2 and 3 built at later dates, with each later phase showing greater likeness to modern homes.  I live in the oldest division, Phase 1.  My home is solidly built of brick with non-load bearing walls, which I'm told is a re modeler's dream since it offers greater latitude in design.

One of the great attributes for living in Sun City is that we have wide streets and generous sidewalk space, uncluttered by basketball hoops, abandoned bikes, or trash cans left out since last Thanksgiving. Street parking is restricted to short visits so residents have learned to actually use their garage for what is was designed for, unlike the typical home development where younger folks store $500 dollars worth of junk in their two or three car garage, while leaving their $40,000 dollar car out on the street.  Here you will not find oil stained driveways, heavy traffic, loud motorcycles or the thunderous thump of rap music emanating from a 5 foot speaker in the trunk.

There are eleven golf courses that intersperse throughout the community and as many recreation, activity and fitness centers so that every resident is within a few blocks of a pool, a spa or exercise equipment.  Each of the recreation centers serve to host hundreds of special interest clubs from computer clubs to RV clubs, to sewing, to political and ethnic clubs ad infinitum.

Weekly dances are held from everything from polka to swing to rock n roll.  There are couples parties and single meets and film theaters.  There are travel clubs who arrange senior sea cruises, trips to Laughlin or Vegas or bus trips to local casinos.

I'm told that Sun City seniors here represent the largest community volunteer force in the entire nation.  Each morning thousands of seniors here get up and fan out to hospitals, to serve as patient guides, provide nurse assistance, to homeless shelters to prepare and serve free meals, to schools where they serve as teacher assistants and to individual homes where they care for and deliver meals to the elderly.  Hundreds of Sun City seniors serve as the Maricopa County Sheriff's "posse".  They do home checks for residents who are away, they write traffic tickets, direct traffic, respond to vehicle accidents, etc.  The county sheriff says this "posse" saves the county more than a million dollars per year in law enforcement costs.

Anyone who drives through Sun City will readily see orange-vested volunteers who are cutting the grass in common areas, operating the irrigation systems, maintaining the thousands of citrus trees that grow here and line nearly every street in the area.  When the citrus ripens it is picked and shipped off to community kitchens and to fruit processing plants in Oregon where all that fruit is used in making jellies and jam and marmalade.

Of course, Sun City is not paradise.  We have our share of folks who either drive too slow, or too damned fast.  We have drivers who should probably relinquish their driver's license and board one of the community vans to get around.  Far too many drivers have found they and their cars parked six feet deep into a strip mall shop, shattered front glass all around them, as they lament having mistaken the gas for the brake pedal.

The average age in Sun City is supposedly 75 or so.  Of course that means at least once a month you're likely to see an ambulance arrive at some house down the street, lights flashing and sirens blaring.  If the resident was lucky he's transported to the excellent local hospital to be treated for a breathing problem or sudden stroke or heart attack.  When not so lucky, we know, as a dozen cars appear around the house, to be possibly followed by an "estate sale" a month or so later.

Sun City is famous for their "estate sales" and every weekend the antique buyers and looky-loos and bargain hunters are seen streaming north and south, east and west, following the many estate sale signs that adorn seemingly every street corner.

Contrary to what many believe all Sun City residents pay a county property tax with the amount on par with the average property tax paid throughout the county.   Our annual bill shows that we pay for county schools (although no one here has children), fire, library, police, etc.  I occasionally read a letter to the local newspaper accusing Sun City residents as out of touch with the community, accuse them of paying no property taxes, label them as "children haters", etc.  These letters are written by totally ignorant people.  Children are allowed to live here for up to 90 days at a time to visit, but of course, not to live permanently.  And we pay property taxes for schools, just as everyone else.  Our thousands of community volunteers outnumber any other demographic in the county and save the county millions  thorough their volunteering, which reduces school, hospital and law enforcement costs.

Since my home was built in 1961, it was built by craftsman, and not by slap shot contractors.  It is built on a large lot, a good 15 foot from the neighbor's nearest wall, unlike the smallish yards and homes crammed like sardines nearly wall to wall in newer communities.  I can still walk out on my patio in the morning and hear the birds sing and not the roar of local traffic.  In the spring, because of the thousands of citrus trees,  all of Sun City is permeated with the scent of citrus blossoms, a virtual Eden for nature lovers.

Our Neighborhood Watch really works and if we need our neighbors to meet the pool man, or water our garden, or gather in the newspapers, or keep watch over our home when we're away, we need only ask and it is graciously done.

I've also read postings and letters from young people that people here come here to die.  They couldn't be more wrong.  People come here to live.  Most of these Sun City folks will run you young folks into the ground.  While you're couch potatoeing they are out at fitness centers, or dances, or clubs, or cleaning up the common areas, playing senior softball, golfing, jogging, or manning volunteer positions in hospitals and schools and soup kitchens.

Sun City Blue Hairs?  I think not!


  1. I remember a long time ago seeing elderly women at church with hair tinted blue. It looked funny but I think that is a thing of the way past.
    My Aunt and Uncle live in a Dell Webb community like you describe in Palm Springs. Very nice, just like everything you describe and the elderly there not only are all self sufficient all seem a wee bit younger than their years. All that activity keeps you young.

    Listening to the younger people now with this obama care, it sounds like euthanasia is the next thing on the agenda. They couldn't hold a candle to this generation in productivity, Imagination, activity, etc.. So rather than make em look bad, they would want to kill them. I salute you, you are another shining example of the Greatest Generation weather or not you are to young for it. Enjoy that beautiful Arizona sun.
    I lived in Payson and the Star Valley for a while building houses for a friend. I loved Arizona so much, now just need to convince my wife to move there.

  2. Yeah, Ken...when the Obamanites hear just what that "death panel" has in store for them they might come to regret their vote.

    Thanks for all the kind words.

  3. Contrary to the scare tactics by the fear mongers, there are no death panels. They are called Advanced Directives and have been around for as long as I can remember. They are not death panels. They are meetings held with the patient, family and the doctors to discuss future treatment for a terminally ill patient. I know. I attended one with my family when my mom had only six months to live. And yes, I did sign to not resuscitate. It was what she wished. There were no more cancer alternative treatments available. She'd had them all. All she requested was something for pain and that is what she got.

    Ask any Social Worker about Advanced Directives. No, I'm not one, my sister is.

    As for Sun City, I liked it when I used to visit a few people there. Even had an art show in a small frame/gallery in Sun City West. Since all the paintings were nudes, there wasn't a lot of foot traffic, surprisingly. One man, just stood in the doorway, wouldn't even set foot inside. I may have a bonfire someday of all the nude paintings I've done.

    Since I don't know if I'll ever get back to Arizona, I'm starting to 'try' and accept the fact that I may be in Fargo for the rest of my life.

  4. Pam, I'm not talking about a local panel. Google this yourself. As part of Obamacare there is a 15 team federal government panel that will determine approvals for various procedures WITHOUT consultation with the treating physician. This is a federal beauocracy, headquartered in Washington that will dictate what procedures your personal doctor may perform and be reimbursed for.

  5. Here's one link, Pam...there are hundreds of them.

  6. Wasn't the term 'death panels' started by Sarah Palin? That link just took me to a bunch of articles which are all just opinions.

    I do not believe there are death panels.

  7. Many critics of Obamacare called them death panels. I encourage you to read up on this. You many not wish to call them death panels but when the federal government, via that 15 member review board tells your doctor that he will not be reimbursed for a procedure you and he/she think you need, then might start calling it a death panel.

  8. http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottatlas/2012/10/21/ipab-president-obamas-nice-way-to-ration-care-to-seniors/

    1. Astounds me, lead them to water in the blazing sun but you cannot make them drink. Sarah Palin still getting ripped. Yes, god damn it they are exactly that a death panel, 15 non medical professionals who get to make a decision weather I receive a procedure or not and based on my age, condition, and what I will contribute in the years I have left, according to the fifteen. This their criteria for decision making for my final days or years. Pam please research such stuff. This is the most frightening part of this society today.
      Since the Supreme Court handed down its decision 13,000 new pages of regulations pertaining to obama care have been added. How can you just say, "tactics of fear mongers"? I am not a monger, I am a citizen gaining in years who has been forced into something that scares me to death, Obamacare. Way to many people are making up their minds using soundbites from tv stars and music stations.