By Carol Levy
Whether our golden years are far down the road, around the corner, or in the here and now, if we were asked, “Where will you spend your golden years?” Most of us would answer, “Corrales, of course!” After all, we love Corrales, the community where we have grown roots, raised children, volunteered, made friends and chosen to live.
For all of us who hope to age in Corrales, there are three important questions to consider:
Will it be possible to stay in our beloved community as we age?
Do we want Corrales to be an age-friendly community?
Are we willing to support housing that allows us, as well as our friends, neighbors, and relatives to continue to live in this community as we age?
When communities address the needs of the young and old, everyone in between benefits.
Livable places for people of all ages are commonly referred to as age-friendly communities. These inclusive communities address the varying needs and abilities of those on both ends of life’s continuum. Age-friendly environments enable people to be active, connected and contribute to their community.
They promote relationships and a sense of belonging among generations and allow older residents to remain socially involved. Becoming age-friendly makes a community a viable choice for all generations —a great place to live, have a family and grow older.
Rural villages like Corrales have special challenges to becoming age-friendly. While we value our rural character, well-spaced homes and large lots, navigating distances to services and neighbors can be daunting. As we age, some of us will face life events that make it difficult if not impossible to continue to maintain our homes and their surrounding property. We find ourselves wondering how we will manage when our partner gets sick or dies, it becomes too difficult to keep up with our home and yard maintenance, or we just can’t get around like we used to.
These are legitimate concerns for many Corrales residents given that our median age is almost 55, and 30 percent of our population is over 65. When we find it too difficult to stay in our current homes, where can we live? What will we tell our parents, friends, or neighbors to do? Like 86 percent of adults 50 and older, most of Corraleños want to remain in their community. We do not want to move in with family members, relocate, or move into assisted living when we are capable of living independently. We want to stay in Corrales, maintain our social connections here, and continue contributing to our community.
Yet, we find we have few housing options that make that possible.
Age-friendly housing is a necessity for keeping seniors in Corrales. Village in the Village (ViV) supports efforts to help seniors stay in Corrales as they age. Building an age-inclusive community is an important component of this goal. Therefore, we encourage all residents and our elected Corrales officials to support the senior-friendly housing initiative proposed for Corrales’ commercial district. This plan is for five small, single-story handicapped accessible duplexes located a walkable distance to many amenities including restaurants, shops, the bosque, health care, a pharmacy and a church.
The proposed project will enhance our scenic byway by replacing Sunbelt’s truck and machinery parking lot with attractively landscaped southwest-style homes maintained by the landlord. The project will connect to the Village wastewater system and have state of the art methods for sewage processing and gray water recycling of 50 percent of total water usage. Since the project is in the business district, it does not impinge on the one house per acre ordinance for our residential area. Density and traffic will be less than if the property was developed as a retail business.
In less than 30 years, the number of adults age 65 and older will double. Right now, Corrales has a unique opportunity to take a small step toward the greater challenge of making our quaint Village more inclusive. Please let your Village Councilor know you support this project.
Carol Levy is a member of the board of directors of Village in the Village as well as an active volunteer and supporter. For more information about ViV, visit http://www.VillageintheVillage.org or call 274-6206.