A New Age in Retirement Living
By Mary Clark
The newest generation of retirees is busy changing the meaning of retirement. A more mobile generation with different outlooks and priorities, today’s retirees are comfortable with new technologies and emerging concepts. Most importantly, they are focused on what they intend to still accomplish.
Chris and Jane Ball, current residents of Pine Run Community, are no exception. Born in Great Britain and now American citizens, their active lifestyles and evolving interests do not fit the mold of a traditional retirement. With interests ranging from duplicate bridge to biotechnology, the dynamic couple has enjoyed living in many different communities through the years. Most recently, it was a grandson living near Doylestown that tipped the scale for this couple’s move east from Seattle.
Chris and Jane’s new Doylestown home was designed on a large scale. A few years after settling in, they realized they were only using a portion of the house, while paying upkeep and taxes on all the lovely but unused space. While discussing their lifestyle, they began to appreciate that other things had become more important to them. They were “house heavy,” when it was no longer required.
“I didn’t want to fix dinner anymore,” explained Jane. “And I was looking for more variety in the menu,” Chris added, displaying characteristic British wit.
Convenience is a big motivator for seniors with a busy lifestyle like Chris and Jane. They want to fit in as much as they can, and it seems they will have more time in which to do that. Sometimes referred to as the “Longevity Bonus,” better healthcare and wellness awareness are extending active lifestyles for longer than ever before. Retirement has come to mean an additional life stage, rather than an age.
These bonus years after retirement provide the time to pursue more personal interests and redirect professional skills and talents. Today’s retirees often continue to contribute in their fields through mentoring, volunteering and consulting. Many retirees look at these pursuits as their true calling.
For Jane and Chris, making more time for their interests in golf, bridge and family meant giving up what they did not want to do anymore, including taking care of a large property and cooking every night. They looked for solutions and began to consider moving to a retirement community. A review of local options brought them to Pine Run, a Continuing Care Retirement Community owned and operated by Doylestown Hospital.
“We envisioned this change as continuing the life we had before, while adding new elements. It was about suiting us today,” stated Chris. “We already knew a high-rise hotel format wasn’t appealing. We lived in a high-rise once and missed having a back door.”
Pine Run’s natural Bucks County, Pa., setting and the construction of new garden cottages proved to be a big attraction. With both a front and back door that open onto gardens, lawns and trees, the mature landscape suited their taste. Being able to influence the design and create their own unique cottage in this type of setting sealed the deal. Chris and Jane looked forward to shaping their new home at Pine Run into a personal paradise to suit their many lifestyle needs.
Analytical by nature, Jane uses skills from years of software programming to network in the bridge tournament world. She stays busy organizing tournaments. Chris consults and acts as a corporate advisor in the biotechnology field. His business contacts count on him for valuable feedback. Like other new retirees, office space was a real priority for this hard-working couple, and they both wanted their own.
New construction allowed Chris and Jane to design exactly what suited them and to include modern materials and design elements. Of the many new homes Chris and Jane have lived in, they were most involved in the construction of their new Pine Run cottage. Coordinating the details with the architect, builder and the Balls’ favorite interior designer was all made easier with the help of Pine Run’s move-in coordinator.
“We have favorite pieces collected from everywhere that we wanted to highlight. We both needed our own office space, lots of skylights and open space,” said Jane. “We were trying to be realistic and fit into the natural setting,” said Chris before looking at his wife and adding, “And we still ended up with two chandeliers.”
In addition to their collections, the Balls also possessed a long-term care insurance plan, which they valued and is welcomed at Pine Run. This option for membership gives them financial flexibility should their globetrotting ways take them in another direction. A low up-front fee helps keep the couple’s savings intact and under their direction.
Typical of seniors looking at retirement options today, the Balls are financially savvy and understand the changing economy and its potential impact on their future. “In my career, I have worked in for-profit and not-for-profit environments. There was no question in our mind that when it comes to nursing and healthcare, a not-for-profit orientation was critical,” said Chris of the significant factor that drew them to Pine Run. “Having a trustworthy sponsor like Doylestown Hospital gave us greater peace of mind, since it is owned by women with deep local ties and very practical from a health and wellness perspective.”
Not having lived in a retirement community before, the Balls didn’t know what to expect when they moved to Pine Run. “Everyone was more cosmopolitan than I anticipated, so many fascinating interests and experiences, broad based and from all over, really,” said Chris. “Dinner conversations cover all topics—very lively. It came naturally and was more fun than I had imagined it would be.”
For Chris and Jane, shedding their large house was the start of really being able to focus on what was important to them. Finding solutions that fit their future enhanced the quality of their life today. In short, giving up home ownership was a bonus in every regard.
“Hurricane Irene was our final straw as home owners; we won’t miss the worries,” said Jane.
Husband and wife looked at each other, remembering that stage of their life. Chris added, “One really benefits from being proactive about a retirement move. Home ownership and moving is stressful enough. You should do it before you’re too old.”