In the Middle of It All
Although 50 may be considered middle age, many who have passed the mid-century milestone believe the best has only just begun.
by Bill Donahue

First it was “50 is the new 40,” which became “50 is the new 30,” and so on down the line. The truth is that 50 is whatever someone wants it to be.

More people than ever are moving deep into middle age with a take-no-prisoners attitude, according to a recent Washington Post report. A woman named Jill Jamieson ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, completing the seventh marathon the day before her 57th birthday.
And it’s not just people in their 50s who are pushing the boundaries of human endurance. Folks in their 60s, 70s, and 80s are performing feats previous generations dared not imagine: surfing, skiing, skateboarding, mountain climbing, even bodybuilding. In the past decade, the number of people 60 and older registering for Ironman’s 140.6-mile and 70.3-mile triathlons has quintupled from around 2,500 in 2012 to nearly 13,000 last year.
This statistic from the Post story underscores a growing trend: While many older adults still prefer safer, more placid, and lower-impact activities, such as playing golf and meeting with friends over hands of poker, a groundswell of others prefer more intense ways of spending their time.
Thomas Walton, D.O., is one of them. Now a retired physician, he spent much of his 50s and 60s playing ice hockey in house leagues in Bucks County and across the river in South Jersey. Usually playing wing, he learned to pace himself across three periods, potting the occasional goal along the way. Once in a while there was a fight, though he did his best to shy away from the rough stuff.
“I wanted to play when I was younger, but I never had the time,” he says. “By the time I was settled in my career and all the kids were out of the house, I decided now was the time. I took a few [ice hockey] clinics and joined one team from there, and just kept going. You listen to your body when it tells you something, but as long as you do that, you just go out and have fun.”
He believes performing at a high level later in life comes down to two forms of maintenance: good physical health and a positive mindset. If someone has the interest and drive to take up a particular hobby, then they can achieve their goal. Conversely, if they believe they are “too old,” then that prophecy will come true, too.
Walton “retired” from the game a few months before his 65th birthday. That said, he doesn’t think he’ll ever hang up the skates for good. Two winters ago, when local ponds froze during a prolonged cold snap, the then-70-year-old laced up his skates and passed the puck around with two of his grandkids.
The Best of Times
As people get into their 50s, many begin to consider where their will spend their later years. The Philadelphia area boasts some of the area’s finest continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and other destinations, all known for helping residents maintain their independence. Many of them are listed below, though we acknowledge that not all of the area’s many exceptional CCRCs are included here.
Acts Retirement Life Communities
Brittany Pointe Estates in Lansdale, Fort Washington Estates, Granite Farm Estates and Lima Estates in Media, Gwynedd Estates in Ambler, Normandy Farms Estates in Blue Bell, Southampton Estates, and Spring House Estates in Lower Gwynedd
Arbour Square of Harleysville
Artis Senior Living
Huntingdon Valley, Yardley, and Princeton, New Jersey
Atria Senior Living
Atria Center City in Philadelphia and Atria Lafayette Hill
The Attleboro Community
Brandywine Senior Living
Dresher Estates, Haverford Estates, Longwood in Kennett Square, Senior Suites in East Norriton, and Upper Providence in Phoenixville
Chandler Hall
Cornwall Manor
Cornwall (Lebanon County)
Dunwoody Village
Newtown Square
Elm Terrace Gardens
Five Star Senior Living
The Devon Senior Living, NewSeasons at New Britain in Chalfont, and Forwood Manor in Wilmington, Delaware
Freedom Village at Brandywine
Friends Home & Village
Garden Spot Village
New Holland
HarborChase of Wilmington
Wilmington, Delaware
HarborChase of Princeton
Princeton, New Jersey
The Hearth at Drexel
Bala Cynwyd
Warminster and Yardley
Hershey’s Mill Villages & Golf Club
West Chester
The Hickman
West Chester
The Mansion at Rosemont, Rydal Park and Rydal Waters in Jenkintown, and Spring Mill Pointe in Lafayette Hill
Glen Mills Senior Living, Exton Senior Living, Magnolias of Lancaster
Kendal-Crosslands Communities
Kennett Square
The Landing of Collegeville
The Manor at York Town
Maplewood at Princeton
Plainsboro, New Jersey
Masonic Villages
Lafayette Hill and Warminster
Meadowood Senior Living
Merrill Gardens
Arbour Square in West Chester, Eagleview Landing in Exton, Mercer Hill at Doylestown, Merrill Gardens at Glen Mills, The Pinnacle in Plymouth Meeting, Truewood by Merrill in Glen Riddle
Oxford Enhanced Senior Living
Pennswood Village
Pickering Manor
Pine Run Retirement Community
Pleasant View Communities
Priority Life Care
Symphony Manor of Feasterville and Independence Court of Quakertown
Riddle Village Retirement Community
The 501 at Mattison Estate in Ambler, Chestnut Ridge and Plush Mills in Wallingford, Daylesford Crossing in Paoli, Echo Lake in Malvern, and Ovation at Riverwalk in Princeton, New Jersey
The Solana Doylestown
Springton Lake Village
Sunrise of North Wales
North Wales
Symphony Square
Bala Cynwyd
The Watermark at Bellingham
West Chester
Waverly Heights
White Horse Village
Newtown Square
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life, February 2023.