Successful Independent Aging

ChooseHome, an innovative option from Riverside, brings a personalized approach to planning for retirement living.

When Frank "Fritz" Ober and his wife, Kathleen "Kit," traded their lifetime home in New England for one in Williamsburg's Ford's Colony in 2004, their intentions were clear.

As golfers and lovers of the outdoors, they fell in love with the mild climate. The fair cost of living made smart sense for the now older adults—Fritz is 78 and Kit is 76. As retired professionals—Fritz an attorney and Kit a homemaker, volunteer and editor to a variety of authors—they wanted to live near a college where they could continue learning. They do that now as part of the Christopher Wren Association at the College of William &Mary.

And, quite frankly, they wanted to live farther away from their children. Yes. FARTHER away.

"I remember distinctly my daughter-in-law saying 'but you are so far away, we can't take care of you.' 'You got that right,' was what I told her," Kit said. "We didn't want to burden our children with having to take care of us."

In Virginia, with their children in Vermont and New York, Fritz and Kit were close enough to be available for visits, but far enough away that they were compelled to make their own aging plans. "We are going to need care one day, though," Fritz said. "We see that. And that's what attracted us to ChooseHome."

Riverside, in partnership with Williamsburg Landing, announced in summer of 2015 that older adults throughout greater Williamsburg, the Peninsula and Middle Peninsula could access the full suite of services available in ChooseHome, Virginia's first Community-Based Continuing Care (CBCC) system.

Also known as life care at home, CBCC programs provide services to independent older adults (60+) who wish to remain in their homes, but want to have access to a highly personalized, safety net of continuing care services, as well as control over the cost of long-term care.

In the past, if someone had difficulty living by themselves, it was a signal that now was the time to move in with family or go to a nursing home. "People generally want to stay in their homes if they can and that's what the ChooseHome program makes possible," Fritz said.

Because this program takes elements of retirement community living and helps residents stay in their own home, it is still licensed through the Virginia Bureau of Insurance and provides priority access to Riverside's Warwick Forest in Newport News near Yorktown, Patriots Colony At Williamsburg and Sanders in Gloucester and Williamsburg Landing should a higher level of care be needed in the future, such as assisted living or 24-hour nursing care.

The program is not a house calls program where a physician visits residents in their home, which Riverside does offer in select regions, but is one that helps older adults track and coordinate their medical care through the work of Personal Services Coordinators. Each ChooseHome member has a Personal Services Coordinator as a resource, who serves as a personal guide, as well as a trusted advocate, on the journey to active and independent aging at home.

The coordinator works with the ChooseHome member to determine their evolving needs and coordinate which services are needed for their care plan. This provides a trusted and reliable personal connection to the services and brings the member all of the benefits of the program without the worry of having to handle all the details themselves.

It is comforting, Kit said, knowing they had somebody here in Williamsburg who "oversees and knows our entire situation. They can also correspond with our children should something happen."

The full range of services for ChooseHome members includes, among other features, an annual wellness assessment and plan, coordination with contractors to modify homes as needed with age, emergency medical alert, medication dispensing, transportation, home health and personal care.

"We have been very blessed," Kit said. "We have good health. We have the standard aches and pains of aging, but no debilitating disease. We are well off enough that we can live comfortably here." Now they also have ChooseHome and, Kit said, "it's comforting knowing that we won't be a burden."