Celebrating Life

Posted On July 13, 2014

Don’t believe that old chestnut about Wisdom coming with Old Age. Sometimes Old Age comes all by itself.

By Jackie Perrone

Senior Living Columbia SC

Real Wisdom involves planning for that Old Age which is, indeed, coming. These days, it seems there are more choices and decisions than previous generations have enjoyed. Easy? Not exactly, but a blessing to those who might have faced their declining years in loneliness and confusion. The options are plentiful and varied.

Nowhere is the retirement-living industry thriving more than here in the Sun Belt. Today’s retirees are throwing away their snow shovels and moving south in amazing numbers, and here in the Midlands they find plenty of choices as they debate the future. Retirement communities have proliferated along with the rising population, with comfortable accommodations nestled into leafy campus settings.

Still Hopes was the name of the Guignard family estate in West Columbia even before it was given to the Episcopal Church for use as a retirement center. Close to main traffic arteries but secluded on 39 forested acres, this elegant center is home to almost 350 residents, served by a staff of 250. Expansion is under way as more cottages are under construction.

At Still Hopes, residents and staff focus on wellness. Plenty of wholesome nutrition, and exercise opportunities at all levels, are provided in a professional setting which includes a beautiful fitness center with swimming pool and gym equipment. An added benefit: the shopping, entertainment and dining resources of Uptown Columbia beckon just a short drive across the Blossom Street bridge.

Out Highway 378, about half-way between West Columbia and Lexington, the Presbyterian Community of Columbia offers carefree retirement on the banks of the Saluda River. As a fully certified Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), it offers the full range of independent living, assisted living, nursing care and a special unit for Memory Care. No matter what sort of medical need may occur, a resident never has to worry about how to deal with it, as all the necessary resources avail.

Although this community was organized and is supported by the Presbyterian Church, residents of all faiths or no mainstream faith are welcome. Many have come from other areas of the country, often because their children now live in the Midlands.

If proximity to Lake Murray is important to some, a visit to The Heritage at Lowman will reveal plenty of services and amenities in the White Rock, S.C. area just off I – 26 northwest of Columbia. This facility was known for many years as The Lutheran Lowman Home. It has blossomed into a spacious campus with many buildings and services.

Oakleaf Village stands in the heart of downtown Lexington, close to the bustling activity of schools and businesses but with a modicum of privacy just off North Lake Drive. Like most of today’s Lexington, it’s fairly new, catching up to the explosive growth which continues there.

Okay, so much for a sample listing of what the Midlands has to offer. Anyone considering a move to a CCRC has lots of questions. Answers exist, and can be achieved.

“When is the right time to move into a retirement center?”

Of course that varies with the individual. Consider these points: your health cannot last forever, and no one knows when medical issues may limit your ability to care for a house or drive a car. Giving up a home and moving into smaller quarters is never easy, and the older you get the more daunting that task becomes. Ideally, the move will be made while you are still able to carry out your plans and enjoy everything offered at your new quarters.

Commonly heard from prospective residents: “I don’t think I am ready yet.” What is it you are not ready for? The pleasure of a carefree existence? Another common remark after a person moves in: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

“How do I decide on the right place?”

By researching, asking around, and most of all, visiting any that are under consideration. You need to know all the options. One CCRC may be the most convenient to your familiar haunts; another may provide such amenities as a workshop or a pool which can be important to you. Does it matter if a golf course or a hospital is close by? Maybe boating and fishing should be factored in. You should be able to continue to spend your time doing what you like. That’s what retirement is all about, isn’t it?

“What are the financial considerations?”

Here’s where some popular impressions may prove false. When the dollar amount of retirement community fees is stated, it sounds like Uh – Oh, too much money. In reality, after careful analysis, many residents find that costs are comparable to that of continuing to live at home.(See Sidebar Box). Remember, in your old age you are likely to be paying other people to do many of the things you have always done for yourself.

From lawn care to household chores, even before any nursing element is factored in, service is an expensive luxury in today’s world.

The sale of your house can be your ticket to freedom from worry and responsibility.

“Will there be anything to do with my time?”

That one’s easy. Count on the services of an activity department with more going on than any one resident can do. On site: games, movies, visiting lecturers, classes for art or creative writing, woodworking. Off campus: transportation to scheduled activities such as out-of-town trips, in-town shopping, museums and theaters and concerts. One resident expresses it this way: “You keep your privacy in your home. People don’t bother you there. When you step out the door, there’s something going on with your neighbors.”

“What about medical problems?”

That’s where the comparison skews to favor your move away from the house you have depended on for so long. Alone at home, sick or injured, helpless and frustrated, you’ll wonder why you didn’t recognize the wisdom of moving away sooner. Your fees at a retirement facility buy peace of mind along with the medical support. No matter what happens, the resources exist to handle it.

In your exploratory visits, you’ll probably find that each place has a distinctive difference from the others. At Oakleaf, if you prefer not to bring your own furniture, your apartment will include furnishings at no extra cost. Presbyterian Community salutes retired military pensioners with a 10 percent discount on rates. Look closely for the extras.

“What It Doesn’t Cost to Live In A Retirement Community”

Here’s a good mental exercise: make a list of all the expenses incurred with owning a house (one with a paid-off mortgage). For instance: county or city taxes, house and flood insurance, sewer, water and waste bills, cable TV, yard care and house maintenance, heating/air contracts, pest control contract, electrical and plumbing and carpentry repairs, the occasional new roof or furnace or dishwasher.

Maybe you didn’t know that at some retirement centers, you are entitled to a big income-tax deduction for the portion of your fees which goes to support the medical service at that community.

Housekeeping and laundry services are included with the fees. Transportation is available to local events and shopping and doctor appointments.

What’s not to love about a carefree life? Plan it now.

(adapted from an article by Judy Williams, resident, The Village at Summerville)