Sunday, September 26, 2021
Sept. 26, 2021

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Embracing Independence

A little over four years ago, Ted Searle and his wife made the choice to move from their Northern California home to The Quarry’s independent living apartment in Vancouver, where their children live. His wife had dementia, which made the choice an easy one.

“It was intentional to get a place that had varying levels of care because we knew what was coming,” he said. “So many people here are facing similar types of situations, so there’s a lot of support. We watch out for each other, it’s a close community.”

As she moved from independent living to assisted living and then to memory care apartments, Searle was still able to see her every day. Even during the pandemic, when it became difficult for families to see those in senior living facilities, he got to see his friends in the Quarry and was able to spend his wife’s last years with her.

“After my wife passed away, the question came up, am I going to move?” he said. “The answer was no. This just got to feel like home. I’ve got a lot of friends here and that community aspect is something you can’t really put a dollar value on.”

There are several benefits to independent living – the social opportunities being chief among them. But it can still be hard to make the move from a house you’ve called home for decades –figuring out how to make it work financially, downsizing from a house to an apartment, and fear of losing independence.

Change is hard, said Kyla Gower, Independent Living Director at the Quarry. However, she said that as soon as new residents arrive, those concerns just seem to melt away.

“It’s really not as scary as its sounds,” she said. “Everyone has something different that makes it for them. For some people, it’s making some friends. For others it’s finding an activity that they love or realizing, ‘oh, I can still do this.’”

Families, too, feel better knowing their loved one has a community of people around them who care about them and will notice if something isn’t right, Gower said.

The same is true at Glenwood Place Senior Living. Justin Ashley said that what he’s learned from his time as Independent Living Director at Glenwood Place is that as we age, we lose easy access to social opportunities. On top of that, he said, the benefits of a big house slowly become a burden.

“Everything you do takes a little bit more concentration, a little more effort,” he said. “Independent living gives you the option to choose what you want to keep up with and what you don’t, allowing you to enjoy time with friends, significant others, dogs, hobbies, volunteering.”

The a la cart way that Glenwood Place structures independent living, Ashley said, allows residents can to free up their time and energy to do whatever matters most to them.

“If you’re tired of keeping care of your house after 90 years, you don’t have to,” he said. “It gives you the opportunity to choose services to support the lifestyle you want to continue to live.”

While there are logistical reasons to consider independent living – prepared meal options if you dislike cooking, a gym and workout center so you don’t have to drive to exercise classes and on-site medical staff should any health issues arise – Ashley said this isn’t the first advantage that comes to mind.

“The biggest benefit, I hate to sound cliché, but it’s not the journey but the friends you make along the way,” he said. “The stuff you don’t see is the value a community brings to a person’s life. It’s almost a bit of something you didn’t know you were looking for.”

The community is the thing that resident Shirley Hofmeister immediately noticed about Glenwood Place.

“The marketing person who walked us around knew everyone by name,” she said. “We felt like we were home.”

Hofmeister said she worried about finances, but every time she added up all the costs of her home – utilities, taxes, etc. – independent living ended up making the most sense. Even so, her biggest fear of moving from her Vancouver condo into the independent living apartment was having a place to host family when they visit.

“Glenwood offered up the party room to host Thanksgiving, Christmas. I had my 80th birthday here,” she said proudly. Thinking back on the move, she said: “I have to tell you, I wouldn’t go backward.”

The Quarry Senior Living

360-450-4261

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