Residents enjoy benefits of moving in ‘young’ and staying that way at Willamette View
|April 11, 2016||Posted by Carol Marleigh Kline, MA, CWIC, CWWS under Wellness||
After living in the same Portland home for nearly 40 years, Ric and Barbara Russell were the old-timers on their block. They were also tired of all of the maintenance – whether it was worrying about needing a new roof or a fence, or just mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges.
After 43 years of marriage, the couple realized that they wanted to spend their time enjoying life rather than managing a home.
So last year, the couple decided to trade the ongoing demands and expense of homeownership for a simpler, less complicated life at Willamette View, a not-for-profit fully accredited and licensed Life Plan or Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). In addition to independent living for seniors like the Russells, Willamette View offers assisted living and memory-care options.
The Russells — both 69 — said they couldn’t be happier with their decision to move while they were still young enough, and vibrant enough, to enjoy all the 27-acre campus has to offer.
“One of the biggest misconceptions was — you’re too young to go to a ‘nursing home,'” Barbara Russell said. “The more people come over and visit, the more they go, ‘Wow this is great!'”
As the Russells learned firsthand, the benefits of retirement planning extend beyond the financial to include more free time to do what they want, and enjoy a community of new friendships knowing that their future is secure. While many baby boomers have saved and planned for retirement, some may not recognize the value of joining a CCRC.
In fact, said Linda Tofflemire — a counselor at Willamette View who offers psychological and emotional support to families and residents — seniors who decide to move without a crisis prompting them have better experiences, and are more likely to create success for themselves when it comes to relocating.
“(Many seniors) think a retirement community will take away their independence. That’s an outdated notion,” she said. “We’re entering a very elder-rich period. The idea of what aging can allow is all up for grabs at this point.”
Meanwhile, Tofflemire said those who move in while they are younger can better take advantage of the community’s offerings. She said Willamette View strives to be a longevity hot spot, or one of the planet’s “blue zones,” where good physical and emotional health promote long lives.
In addition to physical and social opportunities, being part of a community like Willamette View enables seniors to develop relationships with people who will be by their side as they age.
Building a social network while they’re younger can be valuable for support as a spouse’s physical or mental health declines — or when a partner passes away.
All the while, she said Willamette View supports seniors to maintain their independence with its resident-driven groups and governance.
“At Willamette View, our residents are leaders and have positions of rank and influence,” she said. “The process of moving in and downsizing is difficult under the best of circumstances. There are things seniors can do to make the transition less difficult. One of those things is to make it your decision, and not your adult children’s decision.”
While those at Willamette View aim to help seniors maintain the highest quality of life, another benefit is its assurance of care for life. Those who enter independent living can subsequently receive assisted-living or memory care on-site if needed. This model also allows spouses to stay together on the same campus.
A continuum of care is one reason Carol Kline, 77, opted to move to Willamette View. She’s still vivacious and freelances as an editor in addition to working off-campus as a stress-management corporate consultant. Kline wasn’t ready to retire, and wanted to be around engaged people. Nor did she want to have to move if health issues arose. She liked the community’s CCRC status and the access to a lifetime of care available.
While Kline thought she wouldn’t need to move out of her home for years, she took a “test drive,” staying at Willamette View four nights for free. During that time she met many friendly and interesting people and fell in love with all the green open spaces.
To Kline’s surprise, she realized Willamette View was the right place for her – and it was the right time.
“I thought I’d need to move in 10 years,” she said. “Someone said to me, ‘If you want to have friends later, you need to start cultivating them now.’ It’s why I moved in sooner than planned. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Since moving, she’s been engaged with the on-campus plays, including writing one called “The Wizard of Willamette View.”
The Russells also wasted no time getting involved after they moved. The avid Hillsboro Hops fans had barely unpacked before they organized a trip to a home game last year.
They also have time to enjoy the micro-brewed beers and local wines offered at restaurants on campus. They have two garden plots with veggies and flowers that they enjoy tending. There are opportunities to attend plays and symphonies, go to the beach, enjoy the outdoors, and explore Portland.
“There’s plenty to do – that’s really important as you age,” Barbara Russell said. “It’s like any other change in your life. A lot of it involves clearing up the misconceptions people have about retirement.”
WILLAMETTE VIEW SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITY AT A GLANCE
Location: 12705 SE River Road, Portland, OR 97222
Phone: 503-654-6581 or 800-446-0670 (toll-free)
Services: Willamette View offers independent living, assisted living and memory care.