April 27, 2020 —If you are considering whether moving into a retirement community is for you, it’s important to consider the alternative. What would living at home look like? How would you get the assistance you need when you need it? Judy B., a new resident at Crosslands, knew about this more than most, because she worked for the Office For the Aging in Lewiston, New York, near Niagara Falls and the US/Canadian border.
Helping Others Consider Options Made Judy’s Choices Easier
At the Office of Aging, Judy helped families work through issues of finding care and services for people as they aged. She knew about different retirement community options, and without close family, she knew she would need to be in charge of coordinating her own care. She started to look into options, and saw an advertisement for Kendal Communities in the Unitarian Universalist magazine. “Quakers and Unitarians have a lot in common, but I think we talk more,” said Judy.
Friends had looked at Kendal-Crosslands and loved it, so Judy drove over eight hours, on a snowy day, to come for a visit. She did her homework, and after finding out more about Kendal-Crosslands first hand, she quickly moved into one of our one bedroom apartments in January, 2019.
Good Choices Mean More Freedom
After moving in, Judy found that the transportation to local grocery stores, concerts, even to the doctor’s, would meet all her needs. That made it easy for her to decide she could actually give up her car and avoid all the changes (and expense) with insurance and registration required when moving from out of state. “Giving up a car is usually hard for people, because it’s a symbol of freedom and independence. But for me, I found I just didn’t need it, and it was a smart decision for me to give it to friends.”
When Judy talks about what it was like to move to a community far from home, she’ll say she felt welcomed at Kendal-Crosslands Communities from the start. “It took about a day and a half to feel at home! While I miss my friends, they are only a phone call or email away, and I’ve had 4 visitors down already! I see people every day here at Crosslands. Even though I have only been here for a few months, people already know me, and knew my car. When friends of mine came to take my car back to New York with them, my neighbors noticed and wanted to make sure everything was ok- everyone really looks out for each other here.” The caring, attentive community is part of what makes Kendal-Crosslands special.
Judy is being careful in choosing what groups to join, and to ease into activities. With over 100 resident committees at both Crosslands and Kendal at Longwood, there are so many options, Judy said it was important to pace yourself. She loves to make lace, so she’s working with the Needlers group and is considering tutoring with the ESL [English as a Second Language] program, which she did before back in New York. “I’ve been getting physical therapy and using the heated salt water pool- it’s GREAT!” She’s looking forward to working up to the balance classes, doing a bit at a time.
Everyone can worry about becoming bored when they retire- and Judy had combatted that by volunteering every day of the week back in Lewiston. “I realized I could very easily do the same thing here- I’m starting with a few things, so it’s not overwhelming and will ease into it. There are so many opportunities.”
Making a Choice for Independence
When we talked about what it was like to make a decision for her own care after helping so many people and families work through the same decisions for themselves, “My friends are wonderful and helpful. But there are limits on what you can ask others, even family, to do for you. No one wants to be a burden. Here, I know I have everything I need and will be cared for the way I want.”
“Many times, when clients and families were wrestling with decisions about going to a “home” what they really want is to go back in time to when they didn’t need any help at all. That’s not possible. A community like this one makes that level of independence possible again. People save up money for retirement and care- This is that Rainy Day. It’s Pouring. The money buys you freedom – free from worry, and free time to do what you love.”
Judy is living in an independent living cottage, but she uses a motorized scooter wheelchair to help her get around. She is enjoying every aspect of life at Crosslands, and has been really pleased with the person-centered care, which permeates everything from health care to interactions with every member of the staff.
As someone who worked for the Office of Aging in New York, Judy knows about the care offered in many communities and how it can differ. That’s why it was important for her to see the different levels of care at Kendal-Crosslands Communities and how people are treated as they transition into higher levels of care, both personal care and skilled nursing. “I was really impressed by the nursing care here- everyone is treated with respect, like adults. The personal care area make sure residents are always engaged and part of the community and that’s so important.”
Working out the Details
Some communities are not as accommodating for people with different disabilities as Kendal-Crosslands Communities. Judy noted that there are accommodations for everyone at Kendal-Crosslands, from audio loop hearing assistance in the auditorium to braille markings to making sure buttons and handles work for people with mobility aids. “Everything – all the small things- have really been well thought out and worked out over time.” The little details make a big difference, and help people age comfortably within the community they love.
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