Bye, Bye Burden

The idea of moving away from a home you’ve lived in for a number of years can be difficult, even a little bit scary, especially when so many wonderful memories were made there. But for seniors who are tired of doing yard work or taking care of minor maintenance issues around the house, downsizing to an independent living community can be a big burden off your shoulders. In addition to freeing you (or your loved ones) up from maintaining your home, independent living offers a number of other great benefits.

“What we have found with a lot of our clients, and ourselves for that matter, is that people don’t use all of the rooms in their home once their children move out,” says Jeanie Gander of Westminster Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach. “So in many cases, people aren’t downsizing when moving here because they are using the same amount of space.”

Gander likens a move to an independent living community to being back in college. If you want to visit friends, they are just down the hall. If you don’t feel like cooking, there are meal plans that offer excellent options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you want to stay active, you can join a club, attend a meeting or take the shuttle to an event. You can also use the wellness center to stay fit and healthy. If you feel like going off on your own, you always have that option. Best of all, if you need help, there are people available to provide you with assistance.

Westminster Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay is known as a “Life Plan” community (the only beachfront Life Plan community in the Mid-Atlantic), which means if your health does begin to falter as you grow older, they also offer Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing, Rehabilitation and Hospice Care all on the same campus. So if a married couple is living at the community and one of the spouses gets sick and needs additional care, help will come to you. If that spouse needs to be moved to a different part of the campus for specialized care, the other spouse can easily visit without having to worry about transportation issues.

On the other hand, if residents are healthy and feel like traveling, neighbors will often pitch in to take care of pets, bring in the mail, water plants, etc. “I think the biggest point to get across to people is that this is not the kind of thing you could do too soon,” says Gander. “I have only heard people say they wish they had made the move earlier.”

A common misconception people often have about independent or assisted living communities is that you should start looking for one only when your health starts to falter. “Eighty percent of our residents are in the independent living population and don’t require any assistance whatsoever,” Gander says. “In fact, you can only become a resident here when you are at the independent living level. The other 20 percent of our population were originally independent living residents who were guaranteed access to higher levels or care as they needed it.”

Westminster Canterbury is just one of many exciting independent living communities available in Coastal Virginia. So do a little homework. Solicit recommendations from friends and family. Do some research online to see which campuses look the most appealing. Narrow your choices down to a few options. Then make an appointment to visit a few different communities in person so you can get a true feel for the grounds, the housing, the amenities and the staff. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Next: 5 tips for a stress-free retirement.

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