A Gradual Migration: Continuing Care Communities

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senior couple enjoying independent living communityNearly 70 years of marriage for Alvin and Evelyn Burgess began with a double date, for which they were not paired with each other. But this did not stop Alvin from seizing the opportunity when it arose.

“When my cousin stopped going with her, I came to her house on a Sunday night and asked if she would like to go to church with me,” he said.

And the rest is history. There is no question the Burgesses have accomplished a lot in their lives from their growing family to the cross-country road trip they took upon retiring.

It is fitting that the couple’s first date was to church since it was an important factor when they chose their current home, The Hermitage of Northern Virginia, a non-profit continuing care retirement community located in Alexandria.

Not only would living independently at the Hermitage complement their active lifestyles, but the Burgesses wanted to remain within close distance to the church that has been a major part of their lives over the years. “We both belong to the Del Ray United Methodist Church and have been members since 1939,” said Alvin. “We enjoy our church family and do a great deal with one another.”

While working for the Washington Gas Light Company for 42 years, Alvin, who is currently a co-chairman for the United Methodist Church Board of Trustees, said he has held just about every position in their church. Although the Hermitage is owned and operated by Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc., the community prides itself on serving all faiths.

The Burgesses, residents of Alexandria since 1950, were looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle and a place in which they would be cared for if needed. “We are at the age where are minds are still bright and we didn’t want our two children to worry about us,” said Evelyn.

With friends and family living in the Hermitage in Richmond and its local branch, the couple visited the community on several occasions and even experienced its convenient dining prior to their move. Comparing it to that of a large restaurant, they enjoy all of their meals in the dining room nestled among the surrounding oak and maple trees.

Another appealing aspect was the fact that the couple would have the option of a month-by-month lease with no entrance fee. At the all-inclusive monthly rate, they could enjoy a life of leisure without the concerns that accompany maintaining a home.

After almost two years, the Burgesses could not be happier with their decision as the opportunities for staying involved and meeting others abounds at the Hermitage. In fact, residents were able to perform in the community’s recent ‘April Foolies’ show as 150 of their peers watched on.

But what is available on a daily basis turns out to be quite a long list including exercise classes and a creative arts center through which residents can stay physically fit while revealing their talents. Conveniently scheduled daily outings also allow individuals to explore the surrounding area and its cultural offerings. With a Billiards room, computer lab, greenhouse, lounges, scenic walking paths and much more, there never seems to be a dull moment at the community. Perhaps most important is that the array of activities reflect the energetic lifestyle of each resident, since the active Resident Council is there to listen to the couple’s, and their peers,’ comments and ideas.

And just like they had hoped for, the Burgesses have felt a great sense of security knowing help is readily available. With an excellent staff-to-patient ratio, the community has a licensed nurse on staff 24 hours a day while offering assisted living as well as nursing, Dementia/Alzheimer’s and respite care as needed. If anything were to happen to either Alvin or Evelyn, they have the comfort of knowing they will still be together within the community.

“I will say this about the Hermitage, this staff will do everything in the world that they can to help you and make it comfortable here for you,” said Alvin.

As they enjoy their personalized and cozy first-floor apartment, the Burgesses relish in the freedom that is encouraged by the Hermitage to continue their individual pursuits, whether within or outside of the community. Now, what began with a double date has turned into a promising future at a home that fits their ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle perfectly.

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