The Next Step to Independent Living

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loving couple making the most of assisted living in marylandFor many, the process of downsizing from the family home can be an emotional and difficult experience. Margaret Castoro, however, has managed to maintain a positive attitude throughout the transitions she has made with her husband, Joseph, including their most recent to Brightview Avondell, a rental retirement community located in Bel Air.

“You just go to the next step,” she said. “You have your memories in your heart and you remember all of it, but they’re just a bunch of possessions.”

The Castoros certainly have a great deal of memories from their nearly 62 years of marriage, and they are only making more as they maintain their active lifestyles at their current home.

For the couple, it has been an interesting journey that eventually led them to Brightview Avondell.
Joseph had grown up in East Baltimore helping his father in the family-owned barber shop while enjoying weekend trips to visit relatives in South Jersey. Margaret had moved to Homeland at a young age and remembers fondly a family pastime playing games with her father.

It was “love at first sight” when Joseph met Margaret. They were introduced through her cousin, Joseph’s classmate at Calvert Hall, at one of the school’s mixers.

Over the years, Joseph worked with his father building stores, strip malls and homes while Margaret enjoyed being a homemaker raising their two children and helping charities. At the age of 50, however, she took on a major career shift.

“The children were out of the house, so I thought I would get a job,” she said. “My family thought it was hysterical.”

Margaret, however, surprised them when she began working for the Noxell Corporation, the former company that had created CoverGirl. Although she had a Chemistry background, she turned down a job in their labs, preferring a career that involved more social interaction. She worked her way up from a clerical position and became the assistant to the national council manager working in sales.

“They were very good to me and I loved it,” she said. “I met Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley; it was great.”

For the duration of Margaret’s career with Noxell, the couple often vacationed in Florida, where she had set her sights on moving. The couple had already scaled down from their large home to a local condominium, but they eventually decided to also purchase a condo in Savannah, Ga.

It was during these moves that the couple developed a knack for downsizing. “It was no problem to me; I gave the family things to the children who wanted the stuff,” said Margaret.

This especially came in handy in their most important move as the Castoros had always known they would make the transition to a retirement community. With the desire to move back to Maryland and remain near their family and doctors, the decision as to their future home was fairly easy.

“It was convenient to move back here,” said Margaret. “I always make these decisions like ‘1-2-3.’ If you’re going to do it, do it.”

And there is no question for the Castoros that their decision to move to Brightview Avondell was a smart one. Due to the fact that it is a rental retirement community, no large entrance fee is required, allowing the couple and their fellow residents more financial freedom.

With the community’s available interior and exterior maintenance, housekeeping and linen laundry services, Margaret and Joseph have enjoyed freedom from the worry and stress associated with taking care of a home.

“The staff is wonderful. The people that work here could not be more supportive,” she said.

For the Castoros and their peers, this relaxing lifestyle has created a greater sense of independence and enabled them more opportunities for socialization and engaging in the range of activities at Brightview Avondell.

“Every night there’s something going on. We have parties that you wouldn’t believe,” said Margaret. “Toni, the Program Director, is absolutely fabulous.”

According to Margaret, every Tuesday and Thursday, residents can enjoy guest musical performances while Mondays and Fridays are known as the Bingo nights. Movies are constantly playing in the retro-style movie theatre and individuals enjoy various daytrips from lunch at a nearby restaurant to locales where they are able to dabble in gambling.

Having established several friendships shortly after moving to Brightview Avondell, Margaret plays the occasional game of Bridge and socializes over coffee while Joseph continues to pursue his love of art.

“They have a nice arts and crafts room here,” he said. “I spend a lot of time there, practically every day; I see a nice picture in the paper and I’ll paint it.”

Along with the flexibility to participate in as many or as little activities as possible, the Castoros enjoy Brightview Avondell’s convenient location and its available transportation to nearby shopping and appointments.

“On Monday and Friday, they shop around town. You sign up and they’ll take you, I believe, within a 10-mile radius,” said Margaret. “Tuesdays and Thursdays, they take you to the doctors.”

Most importantly, the couple is only a drive away from their family, which has since grown with four grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

“Our kids are fine with us living here,” said Margaret. “They wanted this.”

Although it may be safe to say that the Castoros have everything they wanted, things are only going to get better at the community.

Brightview Avondell is in the process of expanding with plans to add 57 additional Independent Living apartments and much more.

“They’re building an indoor swimming pool and it’s going to be wonderful,” said Margaret. “They’re going to have water aerobics and a hot tub.”

Scheduled to open in late summer 2010, interest in the new apartments has been strong, with half of the 57 new apartments already reserved.

With a lifestyle that includes numerous activities, peace of mind, flexibility and convenience, Margaret and Joseph Castoro prove how all of the perks of their community make the process of downsizing worthwhile.

“If I had to do it again, I’d do it in a second,” Margaret said with a smile.

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