Always Busy Season: Assisted Living

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Every season is “busy season” for Virginia Dougherty, who even in her 80s is vivacious and industrious. As a receptionist for H&R Block, Ms. Dougherty is still an active member of the workforce. Of the job, Virginia relates that getting dressed up to go to work “makes her feel young again.” An individual as spirited as Virginia doesn’t need a business suit to appear young though. She is an avid international traveler who spends her vacation time exploring the globe.

Ms. Dougherty grew up on a farm in Montana and met her husband, Clifford, while attending college in Montana. After Clifford retired from the military he went to law school, and his job at GWU Law School brought them to the area. He worked at GWU for 20 years while Virginia taught school. The two have four children, ten grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren.

Since they had been living in a home in Arlington since 1965, the couple genuinely wanted to remain there during retirement. Virginia relates their thought process: “We didn’t want to live with our children, and we wanted to make the decision to move before someone had to make it for us.” So, once Clifford’s health began to decline, the couple began to investigate retirement communities. They first researched all the military affiliated communities in the area and then began to look at continuing care retirement communities. They had a clearly defined goal, according to Virginia: “We were looking for care not recreation.” The Doughterys began to seriously consider Sunrise of Bluemont Park after visiting the community.

“Sunrise of Bluemont offered independent, in addition to assisted, living,” points out Virginia. The couple also liked the causal atmosphere of the community, since “some of the other communities seemed too formal, and we wanted the option of not getting dressed up every night for dinner.”

She continues to be thrilled with her new home: “I love associating with all of the people. I have made some great friends here. The people that live here have all had a very colorful background. It is wonderful not to have to eat by myself, and I enjoy the food here. There are also a lot of activities that I can attend if I want to.” However, Ms. Dougherty does much more than simply attend community events; she often helps to organize them and always reports them to other residents in the newsletter she compiles on her computer. She proudly relates, “We had never had a newsletter produced by a resident, so I thought I would put one together.” In fact, she is so involved that she has become an integral member of the community. She is the President of the Resident Council and serves on the Hospitality Committee for the community.

Although she briefly entertained the idea of moving back to an apartment or a single family home after her husband passed away, Virginia quickly realized that she would lose more than she would gain after such a move: “I have compared living in the community to living in an apartment or single family home, and there is no comparison. I would lose my wonderful friends, the security, the service of the pleasant staff, the 24 hour care that is available if needed, and, most importantly, the good parking space!”

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