Senior Living: Options for Rewarding Retirement
Today’s seniors are more active than ever, and retirement communities, home builders and independent contractors have become even more adept at addressing their physical and social needs. Whether retired, empty-nesters or those seeking a change in lifestyle, seniors today have many options for making their homes in the Central Virginia area.
Blakely also believes in what is formally called Aging in Place (AIP), which proposes the concept of remaining at home in a safe, familiar, comfortable environment for the rest of a lifetime. Blakely proposes that AIP “helps seniors look more into the type of living that they would want to have, and the type of lifestyle they want to live, before they have to go somewhere with skilled care.”
Physical ease and comfort top the list of priorities for seniors. “Seniors typically require main-level living when they transition to a home,” Blakely says. “Falls cause a lot of people to go into skilled care or a nursing home. It is easier for them to be on one level to prevent falls.” Simple things can also be modified for an existing home. “Careful attention to using levers instead of actual door knobs, which are much easier when arthritis sets in, or installing a ramp/wheelchair access from the garage instead of steps, are simple conversions that allow for more enjoyment in their homes,” Blakely explains.
Working with an experienced SRES-designated realtor has many benefits. You can find one by entering your city and state on seniorsrealestate.com.
Options in Community Living
Central Virginia also affords numerous choices for retirement community-style living. When researching this option, seniors should consider care levels, living arrangements, amenities, costs and more. Many locations in this area offer options that include independent living, nursing home care and assisted living on one campus, so residents can age in one community and also receive varying levels of care. For example, The Summit and Westminster Canterbury are each considered a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), a common industry term which describes communities that offer a range of services and living situations for seniors. Janna Bradley, director of marketing at The Summit, says, “When seniors go into independent living [here], they know that they can transition to skilled care, long-term care or assisted living as they need the care.” At residences such as The Summit, seniors who live independently can have peace of mind knowing that they can call for help 24 hours a day. Communities like this also offer respite care.
Westminster Canterbury also offers several levels of care. Susan Pettyjohn, director of marketing, says, “People know that when they come here, they will be able to receive a higher level of care. There is a lot of peace of mind. Couples can live out their lives together and do it with grace and dignity, even when health issues come up. If you live in the main building, you do not have to leave to go from one location to another. The fact that everything is connected makes it very easy on people who live here.” These are important considerations for couples who wish to live out their lives together under the same roof, yet still want the ability to receive individualized levels of care.
Assisted living facilities offer the comfort of prepared meals, medication management, laundry services and housekeeping services. Some facilities, like Heritage Green Assisted Living Communities in Lynchburg, focus solely on this option in which seniors can maintain some independence, yet receive help with daily living needs and have access to trained medical staff at all times. The Summit’s Bradley explains, “Assisted living addresses the activities of daily living. These are the things we take for granted such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation and being in a safe environment.”
Choices in Style, Space
Choosing the style of residence is another consideration for seniors, as many facilities offer a variety from apartment-style living to private garden villas. In Central Virginia, seniors can find anything from the 400-square-foot studio apartment to an 1800-square-foot cottage. Oftentimes these living spaces are either low-maintenance or maintenance-free.
Pettyjohn of Westminster Canterbury says that one of the most appealing aspects of that community is the maintenance-free, resort-like living. “As we grow older, we have less energy, and our type of living allows people to expend their energy in other ways besides doing yardwork and maintenance,” she explains. “The people who live here have a greater sense of security about the future because they know what that future entails. They do not have to deal with things that are normally part of daily life such as cleaning and windows. Those things are someone else’s responsibility,” she says.
Creating a comfortable atmosphere for those who live independently is achieved in residences with fully appointed kitchens, although residents can also take advantage of various dining facilities. “Some people do not like to cook, and there are a lot of opportunities to eat out here on campus,” suggests Pettyjohn. CCRCs offer varying flexible meal plans to accommodate the fluctuating needs of their clients. Ease for seniors is also considered with the addition of washers and dryers, and the option of regularly scheduled housekeeping.
Many seniors also wish to maintain an active lifestyle for both mind and body, which is where activities come into play. The Summit is on a 143-acre tract of land (40 are developed), which includes a lake and a walking trail. Most CCRCs offer various activities both on campus (Tai Chi, bridge, and Bible studies, for example) and off campus (such as trips to the symphony and plays). Residents of The Summit have the opportunity to join the local YMCA (which is within walking distance) at a reduced rate, while Westminster Canterbury has a fitness/wellness center along with a heated spa and Jacuzzi. Boonsboro Commons is convenient to Boonsboro County Club, which many residents enjoy. Seniors should factor in such current and potential interests when choosing their future homes.
Transportation is also a key element to a retirement community, as many seniors either cannot or choose not to drive. “People do not think about how their lives will change when they do not drive,” says Pettyjohn. Many CCRCs offer shuttles to and from the grocery store, doctor and beauty appointments, and other locations around town.
Counting the Costs
Additional fees are also something to consider when looking for a place to downsize. Many locations require what is called a “buy in” or entrance fee, while others simply rent units to their residents. Some charge monthly fees that can include maintenance (both interior and exterior), utilities (except cable and telephone at some locations), transportation, planned activities, medical care (at various levels), security and more. This type of CCRC fee structure allows those on a fixed income to better regulate and predict their monthly expenses.
Whether seniors are looking for a home that will suit their needs for the duration of their lives, or for a quality community in which to dwell with other like-minded adults, Central Virginia affords many options for safe, quality living.