YouTube is now streaming “Some Kind of Heaven”, a 82-minute-long documentary about life in The Villages, located about 45 miles northwest of Orlando in Central Florida.
Produced by Darren Aronofsky and The New York Times, America’s largest planned retirement community offers its residents a utopian version of small town America, reminiscent of the one most of these Baby Boomers grew up around in the 1940s and 1950s.
The majority of the 130,000 people who live at this premier active adult retirement community say that it’s like “Disney World for Retirees”, “being on vacation every day”, and “going off to college” because it offers life of days gone by, with old-fashioned town centers, antique shops, restaurants, movie theatres, and a 1,000-seat performing arts center throughout its 17 well-planned districts.
Each of The Villages boasts an incredible array of amenities, such as 50 courses where you can play “Free Golf for Life” (included in your community fee), fleets of privately owned golf carts, swimming pools, pool tables, bowling, tennis, competitive crew teams, marching bands, cheerleader squads, hot air balloons, parrot head (Jimmy Buffett) parties, and of course, pickleball.
In such an expansive planned community, most of residents really love it, but not everyone. The 20,000 who are single tend to struggle more than married couples in their searches for happiness in this unique living environment.
A Focus on Five Very Lonely Lives.
In this emotional documentary, one couple in their 70s is going in different directions. Living separate lives under one roof, they’ve been married for 47 years. Husband Reggie is moving more into his solitary world with a deteriorating grip on reality. He does yoga and Tai Chi to relax, but also finds solace with weed and sometimes, cocaine. His concerned wife, Jean, seeks advice from her spiritual counselor and friends. They both agree, “It’s not the real world. We live in a bubble.”
Dennis, a confirmed bachelor, is an unemployed loser living in his van and on the lam from paying a large DUI fine in California. He says, “It’s paradise. I’m here to meet a nice looking lady, someone with money, and get set up for life.” In other words, he’s an octogenarian gigolo who candidly adds, “From the get-go, I want to live fast, love hard, and die poor. The Villages is like God’s waiting room for heaven.” The police occasionally chase him out, but he returns by dark of night and parks elsewhere for a few days, while scouting the swimming pools for his next lady friend.
Meanwhile, Barbara, a widow whose husband died when she first moved to Florida from Boston about 11 years ago, is hoping to find love through casual relationships. She’s still working, trying to meet people, but it’s not easy for her, and she’s not very happy about it.
She comments, “It hasn’t been the fantasyland I thought it would be.”
I won’t go into the details of what happens next to each of these main characters, but “Some Kind of Heaven” is well worth your time, especially if you live in or know someone who resides in a senior community.
It’s entertaining, well-produced, and captures just how lonely your life can be when you’re in your 80s and living in an environment where most people are happily living with a life partner.
Another Senor Living Community Documentary Worth Watching.
“The Mayor” is a documentary we reviewed in 2014 about a senior living community in Texas and its most outspoken resident, who is quite active on the dating scene, and opening playing the field of very eligible widows.
Why Active Senior Living Communities Are So Popular.
There are approximately 71 million Baby Boomers in America. Eventually, those who are young at heart and love the camaraderie of their peers move into one of nearly 30,000 assisted living communities across the country.
Active Senior Living Communities are designed for older people who do not yet need any assistance. Life there ranges from regular meals and activities with fellow residents to something more like camp or Club Med for adults. Each community has its own character and its own set of activities. Not all of them are golf havens like The Villages. Most of the people who choose this living option love the atmosphere and the camaraderie, which help them avoid the loneliness so common with aging when most of their friends have gone.
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SGD is a San Francisco Bay Area advertising, marketing and branding agency specializing in the senior and boomer markets. We’ve successfully positioned, branded and rebranded senior-oriented companies, weaving traditional and online tactics to create compelling stories that drive response.
About the Author: Gil Zeimer is a Partner at SGD Advertising.