Posted by Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook on 09/01/2016

Moving On

Moving On

Moving can be difficult. But like most things, it gets easier with practice. And if practice makes perfect, then Joan Johnson and Sue and John Mouser are nearing the expert level.

All residents at The Woodlands Retirement Community in Fairfax, Va., Johnson and the Mousers have moved multiple times in their lives—from single family homes to condos and now to the retirement community they call home.

The Woodlands offers independent living in an environment reminiscent of a five-star luxury resort, complete with beautiful grounds and endless activities. As part of the continuing care options offered by the Bainum family, The Woodlands provides independent living residents with priority access to higher levels of care at nearby sister properties. Residents at The Woodlands can transition to The Gardens if they require assisted living and/or to Fairfax Rehabilitation and Nursing Center if they need to recover from an illness or injury or require more advanced long-term care.

Joan Johnson has always lived in Virginia, but she has moved nearly a dozen times. “We lived in eleven different houses, apartments and condos. Instead of remodeling, we moved,” she recalled. Now a resident at The Woodlands, Joan found the transition to a retirement community both easy and rewarding. Joan moved to The Woodlands with her husband, Julian, seven years ago. Julian has since passed away, and Joan was enormously grateful to have the move behind her and to enjoy the support of her new friends and neighbors during that difficult time.

Joan and Julian looked at several retirement communities before selecting The Woodlands, largely based on the Bainum family’s reputation and the small size. “My husband had been an accountant for Fairfax Nursing Home, and he knew that if the Bainum’s were running this community it was not going to fall through,” Joan recalled. “I loved the size of the community, which is not too large, but it is large enough to have plenty of activities and options.”

While moving was not particularly challenging for her, Joan advises prospective residents to focus on all that they gain when they leave a longtime home. “As long as you have your stuff that is meaningful, you are home. I never had that allegiance to a house, but even if you do, be positive and this is a great lifestyle.”

Much like Joan, Sue and John Mouser had lots of practice with moving. They transitioned to The Woodlands three years ago after carefully reviewing several local retirement living options.

“We had thought about moving to The Woodlands years before, when it was in the planning stages,” Sue recalled.

“Years later when we came out to visit and there was a twobedroom apartment open, that was it.”

While their decision to move happened quickly, Sue and John’s love story developed much more gradually. The couple met in Sunday school when they were just 10 years old. They dated in high school but parted ways when they attended different colleges. However, after a year at MIT, John transferred to Principia College near St. Louis, where Sue was a student.

“He started asking me out again,” Sue remembered. “I was carrying a very heavy course load and didn’t have time to date. I told him that he needed to meet my freshman roommate, and he agreed.” John later married Sue’s roommate, Kathy. The couple had two children and lived in New York for decades while John worked for IBM. After his retirement, they moved to Oakton, Va., to be near their daughter. Unfortunately, shortly after they moved, Kathy passed away.

Meanwhile, Sue graduated, received a Fulbright scholarship and moved to France to teach. While living abroad, she studied voice to become a professional singer. Eventually, Sue relocated to Germany and became a full time opera singer. “I was in Germany for the better part of a decade singing some of the biggest and best roles in the world, and I had a great time,” Sue said.

Over the years, Sue and Kathy remained friends. “Sue gave our son his first haircut,” John recalled. Sue added, “The whole time it was a really close relationship.”

Sue’s mother and Kathy passed away within months of each other, and John and Sue were able to support each other during the grieving period. They again developed a relationship and were married in 2001. The new couple settled in Oakton in a single family home.

However, the stairs in the house became a problem for Sue. After six years in their home, John and Sue relocated to a condo in Fairfax. As Sue’s joint problems progressed, they knew they needed to find a more accessible living arrangement. Sue also needed a pool for her physical therapy. That’s when the Mousers decided to look at The Woodlands again.

“We looked at some other retirement communities too, but they are mostly very large, and I was totally turned off by that,” Sue said.

Now settled in at the Woodlands, the Mousers are pleased with their new lifestyle. John plays golf regularly on nearby courses and participates in several senior groups. Sue does water walking in the pool frequently and enjoys organizing musical programs for her fellow residents.

“We are friends with almost everybody here,” Sue said. “This is such a friendly, warm community. The people here are well traveled, well educated and intelligent.”

A self-proclaimed “gypsy,” Sue has moved many times in her life—including her recent moves with John—but the move to The Woodlands has been the most fulfilling.

“Because of my career, I didn’t have what a lot of people have—the 40 or 50 years in the same home—but I think even people who have been in the same place for so long can benefit from planning ahead,” Sue concluded. “It’s just too hard to move and downsize if you wait until you are in failing health. Don’t wait and lose your chance to move where you want to.”

For Joan Johnson and Sue and John Mouser moving was easy. It was not just their extensive experience with moving that made the transition simple though; it was the lifestyle they were moving to.

At The Woodlands, residents enjoy an array of activities with a wide array of friends. They do not just move to a new community, they move on—to a new way of living.

By Christy Brudin


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