Published: August 31, 2021
No Way! That’s what Kerry Glaus told friends a decade ago about the possibility of moving to a life plan community when she and wife, Jesse Carlock reached retirement age.
But when Jesse brought up the idea of such a move, Kerry agreed to at least look into it, and was shocked by what she found. Instead of communities where ailing men and women sat around she discovered places full of active and healthy older adults.
Eventually the couple selected Kendal at Oberlin and this spring moved into a two-bedroom cottage with their dog Bodhi.
“Family members and friends who know Jesse and me were stunned to learn that we were moving to Kendal! Stunned! We seemed to them to be far from the ‘type’ who would move into Kendal or any CCRC,” she said.
Kerry wanted to share her story because it might help others who assume a CCRC is definitely not for them.
Their Journey to Kendal
Kerry and Jesse, both psychologists and now 72 years old, lived in a big house with a couple acres of land outside Dayton. They love to travel worldwide – New Zealand, Peru and Greece to name just a few of their destinations – and scuba dive.
When Kerry began her research she started with health and longevity studies. She found that along with maintaining a nutritious diet and exercise, older adults also need mental stimulation and social connections for health aging.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, cite several studies that found loneliness contributed to an increased risk of dementia and depression.
Those findings, coupled with what she was learning about CCRCs, intrigued her. The couple reviewed brochures from about three dozen communities east of the Mississippi River and selected a half-dozen to visit.
They visited Kendal before the pandemic and so were able to experience the “Try It, You’ll Like It” program that allowed them to stay on campus, eat in the dining room and visit with residents. They expected staff and residents to greet them warmly, but were more impressed with how people treated each other, with so much kindness and respect.
They were also impressed with how the Kendal community embraces gay couples, from brochure photographs to programming. “We’ve never seen that before. This sends a message about the community’s openness to all kinds of diversity,” Kerry said.
They were convinced that Kendal is a place of highly active people just like them and they decided to sign up.
Since they moved in, they have been getting involved with Kendal activities, though some programs are still limited because of the pandemic. Kerry enjoys playing table tennis, has signed up for a watercolor class taught by Kendal resident Don Parker and plans to take an audit class at Oberlin College in the fall. “It’s wonderful that I will be able to ride a bike or walk there,” she said. Jesse is getting involved with drama activities at Kendal and plans to join a meditation group.
They’ve also become regulars at the Sunday dog “pack” gathering, and have been impressed with the community’s efforts to make sure Bodhi adjust to his new home too, starting with Kathy Caldwell, chair of the Pet Matters Committee.
Is a Life Plan Community for You?
Kerry will be the first to say she is no expert when it comes to picking a CCRC, but she offers some advice from her first-hand experience.
- First, overcome any stereotypes you might have about a life plan community and be open to learning about them, remembering that each community is different.
- Do your research. Once you define your geographic area of interest review websites of life plan communities and request brochures. (Leading Age is just one of many sites that have senior housing listings.) From that list, select a handful of communities to visit.
- Make sure you understand contract options, especially what future health care costs are covered in the contract.
- During your visit pay attention to how residents and staff interact with each other not just with you. For instance, do people address each other by first names or titles. Peruse bulletin boards and explore activities underway. Plan a second or third visit if needed.
- Find out what the community offers in areas that are important to you, whether it’s pet programs, physical fitness activities or vegetarian meals.
Bottom line, said Kerry: “I think people sell themselves short if they don’t consider this kind of arrangement.”
In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.
About Kendal at Oberlin: Kendal is a nonprofit life plan community serving older adults in northeast Ohio. Located about one mile from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and about a 40 minute drive from downtown Cleveland, Kendal offers a vibrant resident-led lifestyle with access to music, art and lifelong learning.