Life “behind the gates of the largest active adult 55+ retirement community”Leisureville Book Review

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“Age Segregation.” That’s a term that wasn’t in my vocabulary a year ago. Now, I probably use the term in my writing and conversations almost daily.

To whom do I owe this welcomed addition to my vocabulary? Andrew Blechman, the author of “Leisureville.”

Blechman tells the story of how his beloved neighbors made the decision to leave his New England neighborhood for the largest retirement community in the nation, The Villages in Central Florida. His neighbors spoke so highly of this community and their decision to leave that it piqued his interest to experience it firsthand.

In “Leisureville,” Blechman introduces you to a wide variety of individuals that have made The Villages their home. Throughout the book, he explores why they made the decision to move and how they feel their life in The Villages is better, worse or challenging. Most importantly though, he challenges the notion that a community should legally be allowed to segregate by age.

I have read countless books written by “aging experts” in my 20-year career. As I reflect on it, “Leisureville” has probably had more impact than any of them. I think this is due to the fact that Blechman approached this book from the simple perspective of someone who was curious about why his neighbor was moving. His objective approach and lack of a previous connection to “aging services” allowed him to be critical of the concept of gated retirement communities which essentially promote the concept of age segregation.

“Leisureville” explores age segregation primarily in housing and community development. Since reading this book nearly a year ago, I have become much more aware that this segregation is widespread in all aspects of our society, and that there is a wall between the generations that is getting dangerously higher. In many ways I have been an integral part of building this wall. I credit Blechman with helping me to see my “industry” through a different lens, and for having the courage to challenge aspects of this business that might be acceptable but don’t make sense.

“Leisureville” is an entertaining book with lots of interesting characters, most notably the “Viagra munching Mr. Midnight!”

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