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How a Life Plan Community helps couples stay together as they grow older

Jackie and David, David in a wheel chair, Jackie standing behind him.

As you get older, where you live impacts your well-being, health, and relationships. The decisions you’ve made until this point impact your future. As actor and author Matthew McConaughey discusses in Greenlights, “Life is our resume. It is our story to tell, and the choices we make write the chapters.”

Your life is your story. And as you age, you can proudly say you’ve led an interesting, and event-filled life. In fact, when we talk to people who live in retirement communities, we find that most are excited to share their stories and the legacies they’ve built.

Eleven years ago, Jackie Sue and husband David Johnson, happily moved into a Sequoia Living Life Plan Community as active independent living residents. Over the years, the couple has enjoyed a plethora of activities, events and outings made possible to residents. Jackie explains, “during this time, David was having so much fun, he often referred to the community as ‘party on the hill.’”

Sequoia Living’s four Bay Area Life Plan Communities, or sometimes referred to as continuing care retirement communities (CCRC’s), seek to create stimulating, engaging living environments and provide services for healthy and joyful aging. For many retirees and their families, a Life Plan Community provides peace of mind knowing that all levels of care – including independent living, assisted living and memory care – are available when needed.

Jackie, 86, and David, 96, intentionally chose to be prepared for their future care needs, and that preparation has paid off. “We moved to Sequoia Living because we would need more resources and we don’t want to be dependent on our children,” said Jackie. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve had two knee surgeries and the health center was wonderful during recovery – all your needs are met at Sequoia Living.”

They understood day-to-day activities could become more difficult as they age, and knew a Life Plan Community would provide the services necessary to remain together, in sickness and in health. “David’s move into the Health Center was seamless as he already knew the staff and the other residents,” said Jackie.

After more than a decade, Jackie and David continue to spend most of their days together throughout the community enjoying outings and meals together. Jackie, an engaged caregiver to her husband, can be a supportive wife while continuing to do the things she enjoys, like volunteering in the gift shop.

Whether considering a move to take place now or in the future, it’s never too soon to be informed about your choices. For some couples, a Life Plan Community may prove to be the perfect option in senior living over modifying an existing home.

Here’s why a Life Plan Community helps couples stay together as they grow older. A community:

  • Offers level of support and care for each individual.
  • Helps reduce caregiver burnout and fatigue.
  • Offers a team of professionals that care for the residents.
  • Caters to the interests and desires of both individuals.
  • Offers a welcoming, diverse, supportive community where you can make new friends.
  • Creates enjoyable, meaningful activities for couples, and makes it possible for each person to pursue individual interests in the same community.

Retirement brings many changes.
Loneliness can set in as relationships change and people move on. You may think that growing older at home will help you save money, retain your independence, or keep you feeling safe and secure. But, life can throw unexpected curveballs, as the aging process is different for each individual.

“I have a difficult time imagining being a caretaker from the outside, not living in a community,” said Jackie. “I have the resources I need such as a social worker, head nurse, CNAs, all at my fingertips.”

The couple’s goal is to continue living their full lives no matter what level of care they need. As a celebrated photographer, David’s legacy and civil rights activism work is on display at the San Francisco City Hall-North Light Court through January 3, 2023.

For many caregivers who don’t have the support and resources, each day can bring new challenges and added stress.

“I am grateful for the care and help I have,” said Jackie. The small, unseen tasks like counting and sorting medications, grocery shopping, preparing meals, and cleaning are provided by friendly and professional Sequoia Living staff. “All by myself that would be really difficult. Being a caregiver is very difficult, some days are better than others, especially for memory care.”

Jackie Sue shares three points to consider:

  • Aging is a reset. We age backwards and your care needs will change.
  • Think of where you’ll be in 10 years from now.
  • Consider your finances. Plan for it so you can afford it!

“People often think that they can do it by themselves or rely on family to help,” said Jackie Sue. “We need to be able to plan for it, especially for minorities and people of color.” She goes on to say, “rethink the desire to be able to stay home, and take care of yourself and your loved one.”

If you or a loved one is ready to consider your options and explore life at Sequoia Living, schedule a visit.

An earlier version of this article appeared December 1 in the San Francisco Business Times.