Positive Changes in the Transition to a Retirement Community
No matter what changes have come her way, Reba Babst has always maintained a positive outlook on life. And it was no different when she found herself making the transition to a retirement community in Baltimore. Although this decision can be overwhelming for many, Reba was optimistic about moving to Springwell Senior Living, and her new home has far exceeded her expectations.
A native of southern New Jersey, Reba married her high school sweetheart when she was 19 years old. Since he was in the Navy, the couple moved to Pensacola, Fl. in 1941. During his nearly 20 years of service, the couple traveled to different locations while raising their three children.
The family eventually settled in Hyattsville, Md., and Reba’s husband went to George Washington University for a Pharmacy degree. While the children were in school, Reba worked as a secretary for General Electric for 14 years, but later realized she wanted to take a different direction.
“I decided I wanted to do something else,” she said. Having taken piano lessons in her youth, she wanted to continue this hobby and learn how to teach others the instrument.
Fresh out of school, her husband started his second career working for a pharmacy, but he was later presented with the opportunity to move to Baltimore and buy a drug store. Although Reba was somewhat reluctant to make the move, they ended up settling in a home in Monkton, where she was able to organize a community of students for teaching piano.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Reba’s husband was involved in an automobile accident that took his life. “I didn’t know what to do, so I just stayed there,” she said.
Reba, however, carried on the way she knew how by moving to the Mt. Washington neighborhood in Baltimore and continuing to teach piano. She spent two decades providing lessons to others while getting involved in musical and teaching organizations.
At age 85, she decided she had had enough of teaching piano, but after a year or two, she hungered for social activity and began considering the idea of moving to a retirement community. Although she loved her home, she knew it was becoming too much of a responsibility to maintain.
Her daughter Carol, who lived in Utah at the time, offered to come to town to assist Reba in researching the different options. With the help of Janet Kurland, LCSW-C, a Senior Care Specialist at Jewish Community Services, they began evaluating local communities. “I have never met anyone with as many resources at her fingertips,” said Carol.
Reba then started visiting several different communities, but it was when she walked into the apartment she currently lives in at Springwell Senior Living that she said, “This is for me.”
It was a clear decision as she said Springwell’s apartments were much more spacious in comparison to the apartments at other communities she visited within her budget. Offering Independent and Assisted Living along with Memory Care, Springwell does not require a large entrance fee, which was another aspect of the newly refurbished community that greatly appealed to Reba.
Although the choice of her future home came easily, the thought of physically moving was more difficult for Reba. Fortunately, her children provided her with assistance in downsizing, moving and setting up her new apartment.
“When it came time to make the actual move I was traumatized,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”
When entering the community, Reba had high hopes for her new home. “I came in with the attitude that I was going to make friends,” she said. And she has certainly done that, establishing relationships with not only several of her fellow residents, but the staff as well. “The great thing about Springwell is its small enough that everyone knows your name,” she continued. Her peers have not only embraced Reba, but they are especially drawn to her dog, Robin, whom she credits in helping her with the transition and meeting new people in the community.
Because Springwell is only two blocks from her previous home, she has also been able to stay in touch with many of her friends and neighbors. In fact, she often walks Robin several times a day and catches up with her old neighborhood connections.
Aside from making friends throughout the community, Reba has found the social activity she desired after no longer teaching piano. With the community’s location in close proximity to the offerings of Baltimore, she now enjoys going to the symphony, Center Stage and the art museums while attending various lectures and classes at Springwell. She has also joined the Myerberg Senior Center, located right down the road, where she participates in its offered programs.
Although the ability to stay socially engaged has been a huge perk for Reba, she has found that the care and support at Springwell is an especially important part of the community. Along with assisted living and memory care on the same 15-are campus, residents have access to the unique Partners in Care program that provides a range of personal and health related services from affiliated community healthcare organizations.
As Reba is currently going through rehabilitation after a recent knee replacement surgery, the convenience of her new setting has far surpassed that of her Mt. Washington home where she was living when her other knee was replaced several years ago.
“It was quite difficult,” she said about rehab in her previous home. “Here it has been much easier.”
“When I went through this at home I had to hire someone to drive me places,” Reba continued. Now, she enjoys having scheduled transportation along with a more easily accessible living environment overall. Knowing she has a support network, Reba looks forward to her full recovery in order to eventually pursue her goal of taking a cruise touring Norway.
It is the friendly atmosphere, convenience, maintenance-free living and other major benefits Reba has enjoyed at Springwell that encourages her to advise others to make the move sooner versus later.
From her own experience evaluating her home prior to the move, especially in terms of maintenance and social activity, she said, “Plan ahead and be realistic when looking at your current home, what it offers you, and what you are willing to do.”
While she may have spent several years teaching piano, Reba offers a truly valuable lesson when it comes to making decisions about the future. Like so many others, she was facing the difficulty of maintaining her home, but her research and positive outlook certainly paid off as seen in her happiness at the new Springwell community.