July 13, 2018 10:30 a.m.
Last month my husband and I with our sixteen year old dog, Lucy, moved to a senior living community near Jacksonville Beach. We downsized from a two bedroom and two bath condo with a garage near the beach to a one bedroom and one bath apartment on the 6th floor overlooking a lake.
Many of our friends and my editor questioned why we would do this after 25 years of living in Fernandina Beach and being so involved in the community. The following articles from your now foreign correspondent may help to explain this radical change in our living and also help FO’s readers to examine the options available to such a move that is facing many aging citizens.
Part One –The Reasons Why
In talking to some of our new neighbors we have encountered multiple reasons why they have moved here: Illness or inability to move around physically, advanced age and no caretaker or family where they have lived for so long, inability to drive a car to get to doctor appointments, etc., nearness to Mayo Hospital for treatments, a desire to live in a maintenance free home, damages from hurricanes or natural disasters that have ruined their homes, death of a spouse, lack of long term care insurance or plan and finally, a desire to have more social or exercise opportunities available in one location. Many of the over 800 residents have lived here or in this area for many years and like the closeness of their old communities or being near relatives as well.
In our case it was several factors. Many of our friends had moved to be with families as they got older, needed help, or needed to help their children or families. Others had died or entered nursing homes. Volunteering at the hospital and my church and driving cancer patients for years put us in touch with many needy people and changed our perspective on life as well. We found fewer friends in our social circles.
Finally, after several bouts with medical issues like afib, cancer, and new body parts, we began to realize that we may not be healthy and live forever on our income without long term health care insurance and rising costs or medical and dental expenses. Even our dog’s last visit to the vet was almost $1,000. That is when we began to look at senior health care communities.
Part Two – The Investigation
We did research in Arizona and the Bay area of California, where our children live, but kept coming back to this area as we were most familiar with it. Hurricanes and thunderstorms abound but fires, earthquakes, monsoons and haboobs seemed like hazards where they live. We were also fortunate that our children are happily settled where they live, self-sufficient and have no grandchildren for us to be needed where they live. Now, we do have grandogs and cats, but they are very happy and don’t need us either.
So, we began looking in earnest and reading up on various types of retirement communities in Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina, eventually narrowing it down to Northeast Florida. We know several friends who have settled in The Villages and found that place that has its own zip code now, not what we were looking for when we visited there.
We also decided with some walking issues that we might be better in an apartment community where activities, restaurants, wellness clinics and longterm contracts are readily available might be the best solution for us.
Of course, we started right on Amelia Island with Osprey Village and the new Lakeside community. We had both been to Osprey to visit friends and for events such as luncheons and celebrations. We looked at the homes and I thought they were absolutely lovely but found the apartment halls and building depressing. The apartment home plans were lovely, however, and there were plans afoot to redo the various venues in the works.
We also looked at the new Lakeside plans and thought they might be a good alternative, but they were a long way off for a good look and did not seem to have the longterm care options we were looking for.
We also looked at Fleet Landing, Westminster, a new place in Fleming Island in a shopping center and Cypress Village. After visiting all of them, we found Cypress Village to be the one with the best fit to our needs. Their apartments were on a lovely lake, and the main apartment building had all the venues, services and restaurants we were looking for including the longterm care plan. It is near Mayo and Baptist Beaches hospitals and Jacksonville Beach is only a few miles away when I need to see those wonderful Atlantic Ocean waves. It is also near enough to Fernandina to make visits when we need to see friends still living there.
It is a Brookdale property, which is a huge senior corporation with a lot of experience and called a CCRC, a continuing care retirement community, with a myriad choice of plans to fit your needs. There is an initial investment in the apartments. The buy-in price depends on the size and location of your residence, the terms of your long- term health care, number of occupants, as well as various percentages of that price that can be passed on to your heirs and other factors.
We got on the waiting list for a one bedroom/one bath apartment on the lake and one became available shortly after we did. Our contract was 45 pages long and we did have an attorney review it which I highly recommend. Even though I was in real estate, I found it quite detailed and questioned several of the provisions. It includes a price and all the conditions of your occupancy including maintenance, cleaning, meals, monthly fees and provisions for one or both of you moving from independent living to assisted living or memory care. Or if you pass on, that event is covered as well. There is also a conditional provision for selling your home if needed within 6 months if that is a necessity, which we needed.
We put our condo on the market and sold it and closed in 75 days. It was a whirlwind experience because we needed to downsize and get rid of lots of stuff and that leads to . .
Part III –Helpful Hints on Downsizing and the big Move &
Part IV- How Do We Like it?
Editor’s Note: Gerry began free lance writing for fun and is the author of a published book (available on Amazon and at Books Plus) about funny real estate experiences. Gerry was a former longtime member of our local American Business Women’s Chapter, a volunteer cancer driver and church deacon who loves to read, travel and meet interesting people.
Prior to Gerry and Tom’s move to a Senior Living Center near Jacksonville Beach, Gerry and Tom Clare bounced around the area enjoying Fernandina fun and checking out every new, and even old restaurants, in the area.
One of our readers asked that we invite Gerry to write about her experience m Since we intended to do just that, we reached out to Gerry and she graciously accepted our offer. Thank you Gerry for sharing your story.