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4th Quarter Independence: 
Changing Places 
Nancy Fisher | 24th Street

Teddy Hopper at right with Sarah Dubin-Vaughn, former President of DMCC, at DMCC Anniversary Luncheon in 2005.
Courtesy DMCC.  Click on image to enlarge.

The Sandpiper recently wrote about aging at home, which is a viable option for seniors with a support system of family, friends, and professionals to fulfill their physical, medical, and social needs. For those without this safety net, retirement choices abound. The Sandpiper spoke with some former Del Marians about their retirement decisions, but first let’s learn the language.

Independent Living is the choice of those who can and want to live on their own but are tired of tasks such as maintaining the yard and cooking every meal. These seniors may or may not still drive and can manage their own financial affairs and medications. They typically want to make friends their age who share similar interests. This is the choice for those who want to come and go as they please.

Assisted Living offers a higher level of care for those who have physical limitations, memory, or other medical issues. These residences offer personal care, housekeeping, dining options, transportation, and 24-hour care if necessary. This is the choice for those at risk of falling, wandering off, or mishandling medications.

Nursing Homes provide care for seniors who require skilled medical care from doctors and nurses on a daily basis, and often provide short or long-term rehabilitation services. This is the choice for those with serious medical issues.

To complicate things, in a good way, some facilities offer multiple levels of care. For example, many Independent Living residences allow seniors to remain living there as their needs increase, moving from Independent to Assisted Living and eventually to Skilled Nursing when needed. Others specialize in managing conditions such as Alzheimer’s or cater to seniors who are especially active.
The Sandpiper reached out to a few ex-residents to see how they’re faring and got some very honest answers.

Teddy Hopper, who lived in Del Mar for almost thirty years before moving to Independent Living, laughed. “Your timing for asking that question is perfect. I’ve lived here for three years now and the honeymoon is over! It’s not perfect, but that’s ok. I’m still very glad I made this decision and I’d do it again. My residence is surrounded by seven universities, so I regularly meet interesting people with huge academic credentials. And my adult children live nearby…close enough to get to easily, but not too close!” Teddy’s old friend, Del Mar resident Carol Mason, offers that Teddy is “the poster child for this decision because she went with a positive attitude. She didn’t wait until she had to go. She went when she still had lovely social energy and could participate in the rich and diverse activities.”

Molli and Arthur Wagner, who recently made the move from Del Mar to Independent Living in La Jolla, hit a bump in the road when their apartment wasn’t what they had hoped for, but the problem was easily fixed. “Now we’re on the 19th floor with a beautiful ocean view,” says Arthur. “The place is gorgeous, we have an active social life with very friendly people, and I don’t have to do any cooking. It’s 5-star!”

The next article in the Fourth Quarter of Life series will focus on the nuts and bolts of choosing a facility that’s the best match for you or your loved one, with special attention to safety concerns and cost.


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