Phil and I moved to Medford Leas in June 2015. When I was asked to write a series of short pieces about the beginnings of our new lives here, it sounded so straight-forward that I said yes. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? The suggested title “Jumping Right In” even sounded like an echo of our commitment to our retirement – to do our homework and then jump right in.
This, my first article, turned out to be three times as long as requested. Next time, I promise to skip over almost all of the selling and moving, and focus on the doorstep of our new home, and life, as of June 23. Consider this triple-long article …
Setting the Stage
About 20 years back, with our children grown, we realized that our principle passion across our adult lives had been to do what we could to increase the feeling and the reality of security, and decrease reasons for uproar and anxiety. The pursuit of this passion made us happy, it made us feel like we’d made a life we could share and enjoy.
A little more than 10 years ago, soon after I retired, we thought that it was getting to be time to bring our passion to the topic of our retirement. We were really looking forward to getting out of the work world together. But the idea of just letting retirement happen was making us really antsy! We were of an age to be seeing many relatives, colleagues, and friends move through their retirement years, and there were cautionary tales in there.
We also promised each other to not just proactively research, get clear on our needs and options, for our retirement. We promised that when we had done our research, we’d execute our choice, and then we would remember to jump in, engage and enjoy.
We began our research in 2006. We started by talking – about how many years we’d have to wait for Phil to also retire, about what we liked about where we were living, what we didn’t like or expected we wouldn’t like in retirement, what we wished we had more time for, what we dreamed of trying or doing or being, what we were worried about, what we were afraid of. And we knew we’d have to stay conscious of what we could afford.
We started by looking at 55+ communities. We checked out communities of different ages, at different stages in their evolution from a developer’s project to an actual independent community. We looked at places begun by different types of corporate entities, in a number of states. We started a spreadsheet for comparing site-specific budgets to our budget where we were then and after we retired. And we made a spreadsheet to hold the questions we were asking and the answers we got from each community we looked at. The trips we were taking confused our friends; we were treating the search as a series of mini-vacations!
Our research confirmed that we wanted a new (at least to us) home, and to be among people at a similar stage of life. But we also came to think that once the developer /start-up corporation leaves, these communities sometimes become organizationally, financially and socially unstable, and that seemed to hold the promise of multiplying our concerns about our future in retirement as opposed to allaying such fears.
So … We took a hiatus on our retirement hunt for a bit.
Then, in late 2011, we met friends that we hadn’t seen in a few years for lunch. They had recently moved into their new home, in their home state of Delaware. They spoke excitedly of their new home, the “CCRC” it was in, the activities they were continuing from their pre-retirement lives, those they were just picking up in their new community, the people they were meeting, and something of the process of being approved, and why there was a process for being approved, medically and financially.
We did not know about CCRCs, but we set out to learn. We started with the community our friends were in, its parent corporation and sister communities in a number of states, we visited the Marketing department at their community, we found other CCRCs by looking at CCRC-related websites and their primary rating firms. We dug out our spreadsheets, and we looked at communities offering Plan A, and some offering Plan B, contracts. Important things to discuss with your targets’ Marketing contact.
We had learned that CCRC communities reflected the leadership and goals of their owners, obvious but important, in its physical plant, in its operations, and in how the community’s residents and staff acted and interacted. Part of that feel also came from the actual communities the CCRCs were located in and from the populations they drew from for their residents and employees. There was a wide variety of quality in the accommodations, services, activities and opportunities to make a new life, in the prices and in the pricing structures, and in progression of care and the processes for accessing same. And, there were varying degrees of financial stability and track records with State licensing agencies at least as regards each CCRC community’s medical facilities.
And we learned that all of that mattered greatly to us, as we were quickly, and oh so slowly, approaching Phil’s retirement date of early 2014! We had narrowed our focus to 2 or 3 communities, and we stayed in touch with each as a year or two went by. Medford Leas was the top contender.
We had put ourselves on the Medford Leas Waiting List, in late 2013, describing our preferences for types of units on the 2 campuses, and saying we probably wouldn’t be looking to move until 2 or 3 years after Phil retired, which looked to be in early 2015.
We found Medford Leas about half way through our exploration of CCRCs. The first time we came, and every time after, it was a world apart, beautiful, set in an arboretum, a really, really big garden. We made sure to pay as much attention to touring the possibilities for where we would live coming in and where we would live as we got older and our needs changed. We checked out the amenities, the activities, the events on campus and in the near-by area. We checked out shopping, medical facilities, and recreational facilities in the area. We noticed the variety of internal communications between residents and staff and residents to residents, our Marketing contact could not have been more forthcoming with all kinds of information to our zillions of questions, it was so helpful to have someone who could answer such a range of inquiries! We got familiar with the two types of contracts available at that point and the pricing for Entrance Fees and Monthly Maintenance.
And then, Flash forward … When our Marketing contact called us in January of 2015, saying a unit was becoming available that met almost every one of our criteria, at the Lumberton campus, but that she knew it did not fit our 2 – 3 years out timeframe, we were surprised only by how ready we realized we both were to take advantage of the opportunity to come look, and seriously consider.
After going through the unit, and going through both campuses again and being reminded of the feel of the place and the real possibilities here to make the best of our retirement years, we realized we were ready, if a bit breathless. To begin the best years, with less to worry about, more to enjoy, new things to try and to learn, and new friends to make.
We made an appointment with our Marketing contact to go through ‘our’ unit, to re-see, and to determine what would be done before we ‘closed’ and moved in. Then we went home to gather our financials, sign with an agent to sell our house in Edison, and tell friends and family what we were up to!
Thank you, and if you hung in there reading this I certainly hope you got some tidbit that was useful, or at least entertaining, for your journey!
Jayne A Bodner
Jayne and Phil Bodner moved to Medford Leas in June 2015. Jayne has agreed to share her experiences as she explores Medford Leas and everything it has to offer.