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Posted by Positive Aging Community on 12/13/2016

A Net Gain

A Net Gain

I’ll tell you what I gave up when I moved here—cutting the grass and shoveling the snow,” said Waverly Heights resident Brant Rudisill. His wife, Ellen Anderson, added, “Well sure, we gave up some square footage, but we gained peace of mind. There’s no more worrying about doing heavy chores or divvying up my grandmother’s china.”

Brant and Ellen moved to Waverly Heights three years ago, and they have gained so much—new friends, new activities and a spectacular new view. They have also maintained their involvement in the larger community. In short, they lost space they didn’t use and gained a freer life.

Waverly Heights is a non-profit continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Gladwyne, PA. Nestled on a 63- acre former estate in the heart of Philadelphia’s Main Line, Waverly’s beautiful campus features gardens, majestic trees and sprawling lawns. For more than 25 years, the community has offered exceptional independent living, personal care and skilled nursing accommodations and services.

Born and raised in nearby Bryn Mawr, Ellen went to school in the community and married an economist. She went on to have two daughters and now has two grandchildren. Her first husband passed away in 1982 following a battle with cancer.

Brant also spent most of his life in the local area. He was married and had two children, a girl and a boy, and also has two grandchildren. He spent the bulk of his career with the IBM Corporation. After his wife passed away, he continued to live in their family home alone.

Ellen and Brant first met in 1960 while performing in amateur productions of The Savoy Opera Company and even went on a couple of dates. More than three decades later, Brant received an invitation to attend a Savoy anniversary reunion black tie dinner. “I called a friend and asked who I, a widower, might take to this party,” he recalled. “The friend suggested I call Ellen.”

Brant made the call. Ellen accepted the offer. “We hadn’t seen each other in thirty years,” Brant explained. “We quickly found out that we had much in common, and that we were both interested in traveling,” Ellen said.

Brant and Ellen began traveling together and their relationship grew. A few years later, they married and Brant moved into Ellen’s home, where they lived for ten years before deciding it was time to look into retirement living options.

Ellen explained, “We knew age-wise, it was coming. We were going to have to make some decisions, and I wanted to be
sure we moved while we had the strength, energy and humor to get it done well. I’m proud to say we actually did almost every bit of the preparation work ourselves.”

Selecting their retirement community was easy. As longtime local residents, Brant and Ellen knew about Waverly Heights and other good CCRCs in the area. “We have lived in this community all of our adult lives, so we knew Waverly’s reputation through family and friends. We didn’t have to do research to find the right community—to us it was common knowledge,” said Brant.

When a villa became available that overlooks the big meadow on campus, Brant and Ellen decided it was time to get serious. “As soon as we saw this unit with the southern exposure and so close to the main building, I said ‘sold,’” Brant recalled. “It took me a week longer, but the location of the unit was undeniably lovely, so we were incredibly lucky,” Ellen agreed. She also realized she would still be able to cook and serve holiday meals to her family – all from a kitchen with better equipment than her old one.

Since moving three years ago with their beloved cat, Piper, Brant and Ellen have maintained activities and connections off campus; however, they have gained so much. “This is such a friendly place,” Ellen said. “If you want to be quiet and be by yourself, you certainly can, but you are warmly invited to make friends and do things, and the activities here are unlimited.”

She went on to cite the 32 different resident-run committees that plan events and activities ranging from outside lectures and musical performances to book clubs and croquet games, as well as the marvelous community vegetable garden. Both Ellen and Brant are actively involved in many of the community’s activities.

Ellen also writes two to three articles per month for Waverly’s newsletter. “She really enjoys the writing, and she works hard at it,” Brant said.

Since moving, Ellen and Brant have filled their calendars with activities and their lives with new friends. “If I were to give you a list of my new friends, it would be half of the community directory,” Ellen noted. “The people here are just so open-hearted. And it is so easy to meet. You don’t have to drive half an hour to join people for dinner, or drive home on a snowy night.”

While the social benefits of moving have been enormous, the couple is also acutely aware of the importance of the available continuing care options. Ellen and Brant never have to worry about what will happen if one or both them needs additional care or rehabilitation.

“The comfort level of knowing that top-notch healthcare is available right here, if and when either of us needs it, is just incredible,” said Ellen. Brant added, “And this is a gift to our children—it takes a burden off them.”

Like many residents, Brant and Ellen have also been pleasantly surprised by the open access to the highest levels of
administration at Waverly Heights. “Periodically, we have an open forum with the President, Tom Garvin,” Brant said. “We go into the auditorium, and we can express our concerns and hear announcements.” This open communication extends to all members of the staff, and residents know that if they need anything, they only need to ask. Brant and Ellen have maintained their active and full lives—both inside and outside of Waverly Heights. For them and so many of their peers, living at Waverly Heights means giving up chores and home repairs and replacing them with activities and time with old and new friends. That is truly a net gain.

By Christy Brudin

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