The Ropes of Retirement: Entering into Retirement Communities

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loving elderly couple enjoying senior livingWhen it comes to retirement planning, most people need a helping hand to guide them through the process. After a lifetime of serving as guides to others, Dr. Richard and Alice Lonsdorf have found themselves showing their peers the ropes of retirement.

Alice serves as a volunteer guide at a number of museums in the Philadelphia area.Her husband, Richard, is a physician who taught at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Law for over 35 years, specializing in the relationship between the legal and medical words. He knew that continuing to guide his students and peers was going to be a priority in his retirement years.

“It was important for me to stay intellectually engaged and continue to teach,” said Richard. “Alice and I both feel that we should always make our contribution to the community.”

The Lonsdorfs selected Waverly Heights, a continuing care retirement community in Gladwyne, Pa., because of its ideal proximity to their former home and two of their three sons. They decided on a villa with a two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room and a two-car garage. The community also offers apartments with a variety of floor plans, as well as assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.

They found it wasn’t too long before they became in touch with the pulse of the community, and starting assuming the role of guides once again.

“I urge my friends to come here all the time,” said Alice. “If you belong to something you enjoy, you want to get others involved as well.”

Richard continues to contribute to the community’s intellectual spirit by teaching a course titled, “Great Decisions”, which discusses the most urgent of the world’s problems. The course is offered through the Main Line School Night, a local lifelong learning center, which reports that it is among the most popular of its course offerings.

“Waverly Heights attracts residents who want to be involved,” he said. “And I certainly want to do my part.”

The Lonsdorfs have found they’ve answered many of the same questions for prospective residents, such as “How will I ever move out of my house?” and “Why should I move to a retirement community?”

Alice answered questions about downsizing from personal experience. After living in a multi-room house with two basements and two attics, she learned quickly.

“People said we’d never get out of there,” she recalled. “It can be done, and you can get organized if you give yourself enough time and assistance.”

Richard knew exactly why he chose to move to a community, instead of growing old in the house they’d shared for decades.

“Waverly Heights is a stone’s throw from Philadelphia, which has tremendous cultural offerings,” he said. “We can still be involved in both the life of the city and the life of the suburbs.”

Waverly Heights is located on the former estate of a Pennsylvania railroad executive on Philadelphia’s Main Line. The Manor House, a focal point of the community, boasts a library, a grand living room, dining room, and five bedrooms, which operate as a bed and breakfast for guests of Waverly residents. Waverly consists of 63 acres of land, which contributes to the community’s peaceful atmosphere.

“Everything around you is beauty,” said Alice. “Sometimes my husband and I are half-joking with each other and we ask ourselves, ‘Why didn’t we move here when we were 18?'”

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