OLDER ADULTS IN SOUTH FLORIDA HAVE MANY OPTIONS WHEN THEY CONSIDER RETIREMENT LIVING. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO UPSCALE SENIOR LIVING, CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES (CCRC) ARE THE WAY TO GO. CCRCS OFFER INDEPENDENT LIVING WITH A COMBINATION OF A PRIVATE RESIDENCE, SERVICES AND AMENITIES. THEY ALSO OFFER ONSITE CARE OPTIONS THAT INCLUDE ASSISTED LIVING, MEMORY SUPPORT CARE AND SKILLED NURSING CARE. IN THIS ISSUE, WE TAKE A LOOK AT ONE OF THE MOST RENOWNED CCRCS: VI AT AVENTURA.
By Stuart Greenblatt
Opened in 2003, Vi at Aventura is home to older adults who wish to live a rich, active and fulfilling lifestyle. It consists of 247 independent living apartments and an onsite care center that includes assisted living apartments as well as memory support and skilled nursing suites, should residents ever need it.
Ask the Rabbi
The tried and true real estate axiom of “location, location, location” seems to really apply in the case of Vi, according to resident Rabbi Seymour “Sy” Friedman, who was one of the first to move in nearly 10 years ago with his wife Devora. “The location is the best. I still drive, but it’s important to be near the hospital and doctor’s offices. And even though the building is 23 stories high, the way it is designed there are no long halls and our apartment is very private and cozy,” said Rabbi Friedman.
Rabbi Friedman said that community members celebrate Hanukah and hold an annual Seder. He also officiates at Yizkor services. “The staff is high quality; they are concerned dedicated and passionate about serving older adults,” he explained.
The community is also situated in the middle of a PGA golf course and is surrounded by a 3.5 mile walking path. And if shopping is on a resident’s agenda, the community is adjacent to the Aventura Mall.
Living an Active Lifestyle
The best CCRCs are established on the philosophy that older adults enjoy life more by being active. Asked about this, Marjie Aloni, Vi Community Relations Manager said, “We have all kinds of activities going on at Vi, from art to music to physical exercise to cultural events. Many of our residents say they feel like they are on a continuous cruise ship with choices of activities or just to relax and enjoy life. We allow residents to pursue their passions.” She also mentioned that one of their greatest efforts lies in providing residents with the opportunity to continue learning, from new skills to current affairs or world events, with guest lecturers, and gain perspectives and insights from other residents in book clubs or discussion groups. “That’s because our community approaches wellness as a lifelong process that each resident can enjoy, whatever his or her interests may be,” said Marjie Aloni.
An example of this approach is the energetic and engaged Phyllis Resnick, member of the community’s Resident Council, chair of the Drama Department and Vi resident for nearly nine years. “I absolutely love it here. I am very active at Vi and pursue my own personal activities as well,” she said. She also conducts the annual Passover service and remains active as president of Access Now, an advocacy organization that she founded with her late husband.
One of Vi’s newest residents is Penny Felix, who still works a fulltime job as a national sales coordinator for Channel 7 Fox Television. “My experience has been great,” she said. “I moved here because I thought this would be a great place to live as I got older.”
One of the aspects that impressed us the most about this fine retirement community was its world-class dining experience, which approaches balanced nutrition through delicious cuisine. The community’s culinary program is driven by executive and pastry chefs specially trained at The Culinary Institute of America in nutrition, healthy cooking and baking techniques, flavor dynamics, and food and wine pairing.
Are CCRCs worth it?
A report by Ken Dychtwald Ph.D., renowned gerontologist, psychologist, best-selling author, and CEO of Age Wave, challenges the “prevailing myths and misperceptions” about CCRC living.
The reality, according to the report, is that many people choose CCRCs to pursue opportunities for new learning, new activities and a “new chapter in life.” The report, “The Five Myths and Realities of Continuing Care Retirement Communities,” is available in its entirety at the Vi in Aventura webpage.
One common myth the report covers relates to the cost of a CCRC. “The myth is that it’s less expensive and more financially secure for one to stay in their current home. But when you take the time to calculate what you now spend in your current home, you may find your expenses greater than the total cost of living in a CCRC,” Dychtwald explains.
The report also finds that many believe they’ll be able to pay for long-term care, if and when it’s needed. “Without any plan, paying for the costs of long-term care can be financially devastating,” he said, “Many people still don’t realize that many of these costs are not covered by Medicare.
“Clearly, when considering where to live in your post-retirement years, it’s worth looking at all the options available and comparing the real costs,” Dychtwald, said.