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Turning 100 year old!

Posted on Jul 22,2008
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Over the 4th of July weekend, I visited my mother who lives in a retirement community in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  This retirement community is called Kendal, a continuing care retirement community, or CCRC.

 Mom has lived there 9 years and it has been reassuring to her 4 children that her care and environment are unsurpassed quality!  Each resident lives in an independent apartment or unit and then if the need arises, or they make the decision, they move to assisted living.  And in the event they need full time nursing care it is available all on the same property.  This offers residents a place where the surroundings will never change and they will be cared for not only by medical staff, but by their friends as well.  It is truly community!

 There are spanses of gardens and rare trees dotting the landscape.  Planted by horticultural expert residents and cared for by both residents and gardeners employed by Kendal.  There is a large vegetable garden, tennis courts and putting green.  Inside the Center, there is a dinning room for more formal meals for residents and their families, a café for breakfasts, lunch or coffee with friends.  There is a weaving room, carpentry room and pottery room.  There are display cases with beautiful displays from resident’s travels abroad.  Personal rare items, like 1920 Olympic sliver and bronze medal, Melrose games and Penn Relay metals from a resident’s father with the story of his trip to the games that ended up being the single argument to build athletes village at the Olympic games. 

 Kendal was built in the late 70’s with much progressive thinking behind it.  Kendal processes its own wastewater and installed sensors in each apartment that senses movement.  When a unit has been quiet for 15 minutes it shuts down the heat to 68 and when the resident returns it heats the apartment to 72 degrees in 10 minutes. The savings in heat and electricity is worth $500, 000/ year. They have front loading washers put in last year and have been recycling and composting since it opened in the 70s. 

 The medical care is also well thought out to give quality of life to every resident.  Some married residents are in rooms next to each other, there are living birds that sing to residents all day and 4 gardens to sit outside and enjoy.  And a vast library of books, a newspaper room where residents can sit together and read the newspaper, everything from local news to Wall Street Journal is on the table.

 Residents range in age from mid 50s to centurions and in varying degrees of health.  My mothers close friend and former neighbor is Ortrud Price.  Ortrud decided last year she should move to assisted living.  Her health is excellent, her mind sharp as a tack, but she felt that at age 98, it would be easier for everyone if she made a move before it was necessary. 

 When I met with Ortrud, this last visit, she told me she will turn 100, December 1.  With the New York Times sprawled all over her bed and Wimbledon was about to begin on TV, I asked how she liked living in assisted living and she said it had been a good move for her.  She said she was slowing down, or maybe it was that she liked the speed of the scooter she drives on the mile and half paved loop of the property.  She helps with other residents and takes walks all over campus and lives a very contented life.  She and my mom share a glass of scotch when they can find the time.  Her only complaint physically is her hearing, but she quips, “I guess something has to go!”  All of my mother’s friends have something to share with me about living well and healthy into your 90s and 100s.  I’m so impressed, and in awe, that I want to be there for Ortrud’s century celebration!  Born and raised in Hamburg Germany, she is a woman who has seen both WWI and WWII!

 It seems that a flexible attitude, ample doses of physical activity and learning provide them with extraordinary retirements!  It took careful consideration to find their place to retire and education on planning for their future that has brought them to this awesome place.  Kendal, and places like it, has waiting lists.  For example, Kendal has a 15-year waiting list.  There are major differences between for profit and no profit (CCRC) communities.  For example residents can live beyond their pensions.  In cases in for profit operations residents are put in state run facilities, and are far below what I call a standard of living!  CCRC communities protect their residents that live to be 100 and over.  If their pensions disappear their standard of living and care does not change.  That’s a major benefit!

 Maybe this seems too far away to think about, but at 44, and knowing that one of the places I’m interested in has a 15-year waiting list, I don’t see how I can leave this for later!  With healthcare and seniors struggling now, I think it’s very practical to look at it now, instead of after the fact!  I believe that planning your retirement is more than financial, it also needs to include the quality, and starting now will provide a better quality, more active retirement and give you the controls to make the decisions. Don’t move in with the kids, move out on your own and live your life to it’s fullest! Here are some places to start looking:

 Kendal Community http://www.kendal.org/default.aspx

 Westminster at Lake Ridge http://www.wlrva.org/index.html

AARP’s description of CCRC  http://www.aarp.org/families/housing_choices/other_
options/a2004-02-26-retirementcommunity.html

 PRS http://www.retirement.org/ccrc.htm

Ann Bartlett
Body in Balance Center
1423 Powhatan St
Unit 7
Alexandria, Va 22314
703.518.4434



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