Cosmopolitan Country Living in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

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55 and over couple living in CCRC“We’ve lived in the city, in the suburbs, and in very rural areas. For our 11th move, we knew we wanted to find an area that combined the best of all those environments,” says Jane Buchanan. Peter and Jane Buchanan resided all over the east coast, from North Carolina to New York City and from the suburbs of Washington, D.C. to rural Vermont. After ten moves, the Buchanans were searching for a retirement destination that had it all: a cosmopolitan lifestyle amidst beautiful country surroundings. They were surprised when they found it.

One of the primary reasons for the Buchanans’ frequent moves was Peter’s changing career path. While he was serving as an Assistant General Manager for Colgate-Palmolive, the Buchanans even lived in Venezuela. After over seven years in the business, Peter had what he calls a “lightening-bolt moment.”

He was invited to pursue a career in higher education, later becoming Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at Columbia University. This, and other experiences in higher education fundraising and public relations, ultimately prepared him to serve as the President of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). CASE is a Washington, D.C.-based, non-profit association that works to train and educate fundraising and public affairs professionals at colleges, universities, and independent schools world wide.

Each new career opportunity brought with it a new location. A former Junior League president and girl scout leader, Jane was always an active member in their various communities. After their children grew older, she went back to school and earned a Master’s degree in Counseling. Her work with Continuum, an organization that offered assistance to women who were entering the workforce for the first time, allowed her to put her counseling skills to work. Jane later obtained a second Master’s degree in Psychiatric Social Work from Columbia University. Her education provided superior interviewing and listening skills that were useful when she chose to sell real estate in a four season, recreational community in Vermont.

When the couple moved to their retirement home in Vermont, they expected it to be their last move. The Buchanans’ beautiful home in the wilds of Vermont offered stunning views and a tranquil lifestyle. However, as they planned for future needs, they realized that there was no nearby long-term care option that appealed to them. Both Peter and Jane also admit that the Vermont winters were “a little harsh.”

They were considering a more temperate environment when Jane read about the expansion of an accredited continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Virginia. While traveling through Charlottesville, VA, they were able to tour the community Jane had read about Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge.

They were already interested in continuing care when they found Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge (WCBR). Both only children, they had cared for their ailing parents. Jane notes, “We wanted to be able to control our health situation in our later years. Lifetime continuing care just made sense.” An added benefit of WCBR was the pet policy which would welcome the Buchanan’s standard poodle, Windsor, into residency.

Finding continuing care was important but finding an environment where they could enjoy an active retirement was imperative. The Buchanans were intrigued by WCBR and the lifestyle that Charlottesville-home of the University of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello-could offer. Rich in history and thriving intellectually, Charlottesville quickly proved to be the “best of everything” city that the Buchanans sought.

When the opportunity to move to their ideal retirement destination came a few years early, the Buchanans hesitated, but only briefly. Since moving, they have realized the inadvertent wisdom of their early decision. “There is never a dull moment here,” says Jane, who is putting her skills as a gardener to good use working with the community Buildings and Grounds Committee. Peter’s experience in fundraising led to his election to the Board of Trustees of the WCBR Foundation, the fundraising arm of the community. The couple also enjoys a long list of social pursuits, and they both take classes at the Jefferson Institute for Lifelong Learning (JILL), which offers a wide array of courses for Charlottesville area residents who are 55 and older.

Early on, Peter and Jane discovered that the collegial atmosphere of the surrounding university town carried over to the WCBR campus. “The culture of WCBR is warmly welcoming and friendly. There is a seemingly infinite variety of interesting people here,” Peter says. Jane concludes, “We were blessed to find a place where cosmopolitan country living continues unabated.”

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