Continuing Care Without Downsizing

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continuing care user active from MD“It would have been shorter if it were up to me,” says Rip Rice of his courtship of his wife, Billie. Rip was playing in a local swing band and spending a lot of time with the trumpet player and his girlfriend. He remembers, “We were sitting at this diner one night after a show, and I just said, ‘Don’t you have a friend who might want to date a saxophone player?'” The couple immediately thought of Billie, but determined that she would be “too independent.” Rip said, “Try me.” They did. Rip and Billie have now been married for 57 years.

Both Rip and Billie worked for the WR Grace Company Research Division (Clarksville, MD) for many years. Billie started as a secretary, but quickly worked her way up to Administrator to the head of the Patent Department. Rip, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, was a chemist. When downsizing forced them both out, Rip became an ozone consultant. He founded the International Ozone Association in 1973 and has worked as a consultant in the field since then. Still active in ozone consulting, Rip’s business takes him around the world, and he is considered an international expert on ozone. Billie left the WR Grace Company in 1977 and has been a full-time housewife since then. “She is so active and has always been an incredible support. I’m a very lucky man,” says Rip.

The couple was living in a large family home on a two acre lot in Ashton, MD when Rip began to experience some health problems. Following a 5-bypass heart operation, a procedure to clean his carotid arteries, and a cataract removal, he was no longer able to do the yard work or home maintenance he once had. Billie had to do it all. The Rices realized that a move to a retirement community would eliminate the burden of chores and give them more time to pursue their hobbies-playing saxophone for Rip and sewing and shopping for Billie.

However, they hesitated to make the move after watching several of their friends go through the excruciating process of downsizing from large homes to small apartments. They were not ready to do that, and they were pleasantly surprised when they discovered that they did not have to. The Rices had known of nearby Brooke Grove Retirement Village for some time; Rip played in several bands that performed at Brooke Grove, so when they learned of Brooke Grove’s plans to build new Independent Living cottages, they were excited. The spacious cottages could afford them the opportunity to move to a continuing care retirement community without going through the pain of downsizing.

For the next several years, the Rices carefully considered all their options and visited quite a few communities before finally choosing Brooke Grove. After such a long decision-making process, Rip and Billie looked forward to moving in, but were understandable tentative about how they would get along with their new neighbors. Those reservations were unfounded: “We get closer every day. It is truly amazing how well we all get along. We are like a family now.” The toughest decision the Rices and their neighbors now face is who will host the next pre-dinner or cocktail party.

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