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A home for mom

Choosing a continuing care retirement community

by Danielle Jackson


Over the past decade, the Triangle has established itself as a top destination for retirees. With world-class universities, top-notch health care and ample golf, it’s easy to see why.


As a result of this population boom, senior housing has sprung up throughout the area, offering residents more options than ever before. Several continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) in particular have been constructed or are in the planning stages, serving those who want a full range of care throughout their golden years.


Also known as life-care communities, CCRCs are regulated by the Department of Insurance and offer service and housing packages that create an independent, secure lifestyle for residents.


“CCRCs offer an invaluable investment to members,” says Laura Lowe, director of sales and marketing for SearStone, a retirement community currently under development in Cary.


“Seniors can secure their financial future by guaranteeing housing and care for themselves for the rest of their lives, regardless of their eventual financial needs,” she adds. “Plus, members enjoy all the joys of home ownership without all the chores, maintenance and responsibilities.”


 “They are a wonderful choice for those seeking life care, or the ability to access assisted or skilled care within the community as their needs change,” says Cathy Rosebaugh-Jennings, president of Alterna Home Solutions LLC, a real estate company focused exclusively on senior housing.


The good life

These types of communities typically are packed with activities to encourage vibrant lifestyles. They also offer comprehensive meal options and top medical care, promote social interaction and continuing education opportunities, and provide maintenance-free living.


Construction on SearStone, which will total 205 residences — including 46 estate homes and 159 apartments of various sizes — is expected to begin later this year, with residents moving into their new homes in 2011. The development, situated near the intersection of High House Road and Davis Drive, also will include onsite shopping, nature trails, a botanical garden and conservatory, state-of-the-art fitness center with indoor pool and spa, and 54-hole championship golf course and country club across the street. The idea is to have everything residents might require within walking distance.


At Galloway Ridge, located within Fearrington Village in Pittsboro, residents can choose to move into an independent living unit, villa or apartment. The development, which opened in 2005, is working on its second phase of development, which will include 66 new apartments and an expanded health center.


Galloway Ridge also owns the adjacent Duke Center for Living Health and Fitness at Fearrington, a 20,000-square-foot health and wellness center, and works closely with Duke University Health System, which runs an onsite health center. As part of Fearrington Village’s overall plan, Galloway Ridge is one element of an existing development with a synergy that goes beyond its residents.


“Part of what seniors face is that they become isolated. Here, they can walk downstairs instead of driving to see a movie,” notes Leslie Dyess, director of sales and marketing.


“It adds vibrancy and community life,” she adds. “It’s a nice way to transition into or take that next step in retirement.”


Scheduled to open late next year, The Cardinal at North Hills in Raleigh will integrate senior living with an existing urban, pedestrian-friendly community. As part of North Hills’ massive expansion project, the community will offer a mix of independent and assisted living units on sprawling acreage within walking distance of shops and restaurants.


“Retirees want to be part of an inclusive, vibrant neighborhood with the same variety of dining, retail and entertainment options that they have enjoyed throughout their lives,” says Martha Grove Hipskind, director of senior living for Kane Realty Corp., the project’s developer.


The community also will offer a full continuum of care, including assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing care through partnerships with Duke University Health System and Duke Center for Living.


“The Cardinal will combine world-renowned health and wellness services with the multi-generational community at North Hills that gives residents choices, provides an active urban lifestyle, is close to home, and is located in a place where family and friends will like to visit,” Hipskind says.


Continuing care

Because housing decisions often are made by seniors and their adult children, Rosebaugh-Jennings recommends conducting extensive research to ensure a good fit.


“When considering any senior housing option, long-term planning should be undertaken with the assistance of a financial expert, elder law attorney and senior real estate specialist,” she notes.


She also recommends talking with several residents to get a feel for each community. Determine whether transportation is offered, what hospital or health care center each community is affiliated with, and what care options are available as medical conditions change.


Above all, area experts stress the importance of planning ahead.


“People need to do this while they’re well. If they wait, their choices are significantly reduced,” Dyess says.


“Those who move here are planners,” she adds. “They want to make this decision on their own.” 


Danielle Jackson is editor of Fifteen501, Wake Living and Triad Living magazines.

Home-based care

While many seniors choose to relocate to retirement communities, others prefer to remain at home as long as possible. But what happens when the activities of daily living are no longer feasible?


This is where companies such as Home Instead Senior Care step in. The Chapel Hill-based franchise specializes in companionship services for seniors throughout the Triangle.


“When the elderly begin to lose their independence, our caregivers provide the extra assistance needed to maintain or even reclaim the lives they once freely enjoyed,” says Stephen Lair, owner.


Services include everything from preparing meals and providing transportation to offering light housekeeping and medication reminders.


“The bottom line is that seniors are living longer, fuller lives than they ever have before,” Lair notes.


“Those who take control of their aging decisions are best able to enjoy their lives and utilize the many options available to them.”


Housing resources

Contact the following organizations for more information on housing options in the Triangle:


• A Place for Mom, a free service that compares independent, assisted living and skilled rental communities:

• Alterna Home Solutions LLC, a real estate firm focused exclusively on the needs of clients 50 and older:

• North Carolina Department of Insurance, which regulates continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs):

• Senior Resource Alliance of the Triangle, which provides expert advice on the various needs of seniors: