Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Ball is in Their Court


As I drove down the entrance road going into the 40 acre complex of the continuing care facility a sense of peace came over me just seeing the dense woods and lake and I said to myself, I want to live here!---even though in the back of my mind I knew many of those trees would probably get cut down to build the planned addition. Their other independent living phase that was built nearly ten years ago is still beautiful and beautifully maintained with both walking trails in wooded areas and manicured grass areas. Their memory care buildings look like a plush resort on a lake and I had to look three times before I noticed the center court yard that overlooked the lake between the two buildings was entirely fenced in with decorative iron work. The non-profit that runs this complex, as I’ve said in a prior post, has been around since 1906 and has a good track record and reputation and other places around town.

When the down-to-earth sales representative sat down with me, I liked her immediately. With every answer she gave to my questions, my excitement grew. “Do you have a weight restriction on dogs?” “No, if you want to live with a 200 pound dog, that’s your business." “Who decides when it’s time to move a person from independent living to assisted living or skilled nursing care or Hospice?” “The decision is jointly made by you, our care team and your medical power of attorney.” But they support aging in place with things like help with showers or visiting nurses to keep you in independent living for as long as possible. “Personal safety is our main criteria in the choice to move someone out of independent living,” she said, “we don’t want people with dementia wandering around and lost.”

The unit I like has an entrance fee of $215,000 (or $205,750 if I reserve that unit in pre-construction). 25% to 75% of that entrance fee is refundable to your or your heirs depending on how long you live there. They’ll keep 1% for each month you are there up to 67 months. After that, there are no refunds. The monthly fee/rent I thought was a bargain at first at $1,800 but then she tacked on $250 to $300 a month for real estate taxes. Plus you pay your own phone and electric. Included in the monthly fee is their continuum of life-long care promise even if you run out of money, $200 worth of monthly vouchers to use at their restaurant or café, choice of underground or covered parking, maintenance, landscaping, snow plowing, water, sewer, basic TV and WiFi, monthly housekeeping, refuse collection, 24/7 security, and a personal emergency wearable alert button.

In addition to the $9,250 off the entrance fee if you sign up now, before they break ground, you get to pick out all the finishes---flooring, counter tops and paint colors, etc. You also get a $5,000 upgrade of your choice---a fireplace, a vaulted bedroom ceiling or a stackable washer and drier. Or you can use that upgrade money to pay a service they recommend that helps you downsize, pack and move---the average cost of which is usually round $3,000, she said---the more stuff you have, the more it costs so I’m guessing I’d burn up the entire $5,000 allotted. (I’ll blog about this service later, it’s amazing all they’ll do.) While in construction they'll have get-togethers for the future residents of the 75 new units where you can socialize and get updated on their progress and to give them input on things like menus at the restaurants, what kind of equipment for them to buy for the exercise and the arts and craft room and other things I’ve forgotten.

In case you’re wondering how these things work, it costs $250---non-refundable---just to apply to buy in and the form is six pages long. It includes a detailed summary of your assets, income, banking, liabilities, health insurances, places to list your powers of attorney for health and financial issues. And if I qualify financially they will require a statement from my doctor on my general health and Levi will have to pass a ‘friendly dog’ test which he’ll be able to do with flying colors. I am totally in love with this place---enamored, enchanted. Pick your adjective. The location is perfect for me and for future interaction with my family and all my doctors, the neighborhood is good, and the grounds are beautiful. Of course, right now there is mostly 3-D architectural videos and drawings of what the buildings interiors and exteriors and land orientations will look like but I’ve always been great at reading those sorts of drawings. Move-in is projected to be the fall of 2020 which suits me just fine because it will take me that long to plot and plan and go through the painful process of downsizing. 

I filled out the six page application over the weekend and delivered it Monday afternoon. It should take about a week before I’ll know if I’ll be accepted but if I am the payment schedule is: 10% down to reserve the exact unit I want (and there are only three, one bedroom dog friendly, first floor units left), 10% when they break ground, 10% when I pick the interior finishes, and the remaining of the entrance fee is due at move-in. All those percentage payments are 100% refundable if I change my mind at any point right up until to move-in. 

On one hand it seems like I’ve made a snap decision the minute I drove down the entrance to the place, but it’s really been a six year educational process since my husband died to consider the various options out there. Plus the long electrical outage we had last winter and the terrible flu I had seven weeks ago scared me into knowing I can't keep living so isolated with no one checking in with me on a regular basis. I just hope I get accepted because I feel totally at peace with my decision. Finances and the doctor's report aren't the only hurdle to jump that could get me turned down though. Did I mention the place has a church affiliation and I have none so that could come into play. The powers that decide if I'm in or out might decide I'm not a good fit. I have no doubts I can fit in, I've been doing that my entire life, living in what has long been known as the city of churches. ©

10 questions you need to ask any continuing care retirement community 

Note: The floor plan above is the unit I signed 'an intention of interest' on and they will hold it until after I get approved or not.If in, I'll have to deliver my first 10% payment for it to be a done deal.

42 comments:

  1. Looks lovely, Jean, and perfect for you as you described! Fingers crossed all goes well.

    Deb

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    1. Not 100% perfect but it's better than many others I've seen.

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  2. What is "monthly housekeeping"?

    What aspect is it? (I like to have sun in my living areas).

    I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. ~ Libby

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    1. Housekeeping is just another word for a house cleaning service. I pay roughly $50 a month to have my floors and bathrooms cleaned now, so that will be free in the new place.

      The sun is going to be what I'll miss the most. I live with 28 windows now and can see out in all four directions. The place will get morning sun but the view will not be all that great. But on the other hand, all those windows I have now makes it really hard to be warm in the winters. I won't miss that. The views will be great walking the dog and that will force me outside. On walking trail goes along the lake with benches here and there. Another trail goes through woods.

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  3. I'm glad you feel so content about your decision. It was certainly an informed and well-reasoned one. Well done!

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    1. I've decided even if this doesn't work out that I am going to hire the downsizing company to help me and keep on looking. There are a few other CCC places in the same general area. They are smaller units but who knows....I could actually like the Marie Kondo way of living. LOL

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  4. This sounds fantastic. These posts are great information.

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    1. I'm glad the posts are resonating with others. I knew a general idea about CCC but not the details before.

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  5. You sound so excited and the place sounds amazing! I hope you hear a YES soon.

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    1. Me too. If I get a 'yes' then the panic will set in. I know move in sounds like a long way off but I'll have a lot to do.

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  6. Well this place sounds lovely albeit the cost. I hope when it is time for me to go somewhere like this that my long term living and healthcare would pay for a lot of this. What I don't think is correct is the cost they gave you to pack and move you. I realize they are trying to "sell" but that doesn't help you. I have moved many times in my life. In the 80's and 90's it cost me 5,000. I imagine now it would be even more. My last move in 1999 cost me 5K and I only moved 40 miles. I didn't even have all the things I have now. It was before I owned a home.So I'd call around to get estimates on that and not trust all her numbers.
    All in all this sounds so fabulous. I think you'll like it. It is like having your gathering girls right there with you. So many people to meet and so many activities etc. I'm truly happy for you!

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    1. Wow, I never would have guessed moving could cost that much! However, I probably should have mentioned that quote she gave me didn't actually cover the moving vans. It covered physically helping with downsizing and packing, planning what furniture will fit where in the new place, helping you sell whatever, staging your house for sale, etc. If I get in, I'll call the place for an appointment right away and when I do I'll have a lot more details.

      P.S. I've never had to pay for moving in my life because I've always known people with vans and trucks. Pizza and beer won't cut it this time. LOL

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  7. Jean you said, " I feel totally at peace with my decision." That's all that has to hear. You're excited and I'm excited for you. Congratulations for for you & Levi.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I am excited and trying to keep a lid on that until I hear back. It's not a done deal yet.

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  8. You have been thinking/planning for your future age-in-place home and it sounds like you've found a place that you'll really like and that provides your list of "must haves". Good for you on taking action and I'm so glad for you that you've found this place. I'm sure you'll be accepted:)

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    1. I hope it works out. It really bothers me that if I died in this house, my nieces would have quit a job disposing off all them stuff. I need to do it while I'm still able to pick my own future.

      I'm not so sure I'll get accepted, but if not I have the names of three other CCC places in the same area to look at. None have as big of units though and that would suck!

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  9. It looks bigger than my home and love all the amenities. The price would put me in my grave but since you have it and are at peace, go for it and hope it is sooner than later. Like that it is ground floor and that 200 pound dogs are acceptable. Levi can have that extra cookie after all.

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    1. The funny part about the 200 pound dogs, a short time after she said that a couple walked by the window on their way to the wooded trail and they were each walking dogs that were huge breed. At least a 100 pounds each. You don't see that in any condo or apartment communities around here.

      I hope I have enough money money to qualify. The have all sorts of tables and charts to figure that out...life span vs. cash after buying the unit.

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  10. Ah! This was worth waiting for!!! You’ve been looking and researching and really it all boils down to heart! The floor plan looks perfect and very roomy.

    Moving expenses are usually state regulated ... you can get an over the phone guesstimate.

    Now to drive Levi by and let him do his sniff research!!

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    1. I've already started Levi on his training for his life-style change---more walks, more shaking a penny can when he barks. He'll get his sniff research next summer to get him used to the place will ahead of move in.

      I did not know that states regulate moving costs. Good to know.

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  11. Good luck. I do hope you get accepted. You have been looking for a long time and it sounds like you came upon the right place.
    Is it a Christian community that would prefer to have people who are living their lives in their faith? I know CCC Quaker areas are receptive to all. I hope that these people are too.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I don't know if they prefer people of their same faith. I was too cowardly to ask. I did ask friends who know their reputation if they knew and they thought they accepted all faiths, but I'm not sure if no faith is different.

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  12. This is a great post! I currently live in a rent house and have to do the lawn cutting and snow removal on my own. I think about the next phase of my life all the time. My mom lived in a facility like the one you're interested in and it was wonderful and I could very well imagine living in a place like this. Lots of luck to you!

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    1. Molly, there are so many trees and a lake beach that is dog friendly, I know you would love it. The lake had sandhill cranes fishing the other day when I was there and Levi would have to learn just watch.

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  13. I'm so excited for you! My fingers are crossed for you!

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    1. Thanks. I can hardly think about anything but this place and all the changes that will follow.

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  14. Yay!! Yay!! Just...yay!! Fingers crossed it all works out for you!

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  15. Well, Jean, it sounds ideal. I know all those places are pricey but you do get a lot of services for that and you can have Levi and a lot of choices in where you are and the finishes and all. I'm sure you will be accepted. Best of all, you remain in a community where you still have friends, docs you know and like and all that -- no major move that upsets the entire apple cart, just the move (which is enough!). I think it sounds terrific and I'm delighted you are happy with it. I think I would be, too!

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    1. Actually, I won't be in the same community with my friends, but health issues with many of them is changing that group. A year from now I'm guessing it won't be still together.

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  16. What a great article! Fingers crossed for you, and we're looking forward to hearing more. It's a momentous change.

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  17. It's a nice layout. Is that a sliding door out to the balcony from the bedroom or a big window? I love the idea of being able to walk outside from the bedroom. I confess, though, that my current bedroom has a door out onto the deck and I have never once gone out that way.

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    1. It's a big window. The door going out the deck is from the living room.

      Funny how we think we want certain things but then we don't use them. This house has a great deal but I rarely go out there. The dog spends more time there than I do. The way this complex is designed, no one can look into my windows which is a plus.

      My next post continues the results of my application. :)

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  18. There sure doing much more for senior now. My mother in law lived in something like this. But I believe she paid $3,000 a month.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Ya, the baby boomers are still driving the growth industry. Around here, the monthly fees for places like this are around $2800 to $3,00, too, but they are all for-profit places.

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  19. Sounds like you’ve found a really nice location. Will be hoping you are accepted. Typically a person’s health status can strongly influence acceptance as they consider existing health issues, prognosis for expected health care needs, life expectancy. Also, sounds like they’re amenable to negotiating to allow you to stay at independent level should you require more assistance to be safe within state prescribed criteria if you can afford additional private care deemed necessary, otherwise a move to a different level of care would likely be necessary. Wonder what assisted living level accommodations you would be able to move into if the time should come — more than one room?

    FWIW since I don’t mean this to be a discouragement, but do hope the construction goes on schedule. A friend in Ohio encountered an unexpected delay being able to move-in to a new CCC being constructed she selected just a few years ago. An Oct. occupancy had been projected but didn’t occur until six months or more later due to whatever construction issues came up, I guess. She was pleased with her choice once she moved in.

    Thanks for including a link to the ten questions you mentioned — very pertinent.

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    1. I'm going out there today. I'll ask about the amount of room you get for assisted living levels. But I think it's only the one room and a bath.

      I already thought about the possibility of construction delays and they have to sell two more units before they'll even start. But I'm hoping not to sell my house until there is a firm move in date, using a bridge loan on my house. There's also the possibility I can use my neice's cottage for a month or two if it's in the fall. She's done it for others in transition. Selling my house in the winter would not be as easy as any other season.

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  20. OMG! I'm so happy for your and keeping fingers crossed! It sounds wonderful!

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    1. Tomorrow's blog will let you know if all the crossed fingers did any good.

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  21. What a relief to find a place you really like. The long move-in date is, like you said, a good thing so you can start downsizing. Dog walking will give you plenty of opportunity to be out on the beautiful paths. I'm sure it will be great news.

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    1. I'll probably end up sitting on a bench watching the lake a lot too. I've always loved being around water. The place has a lot of beautiful places for outdoors.

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