The Woodlands Retirement Community Resident’s Story: Dan Feighery

Photo caption: Dan Feighery, Don Allen, and Jean Feighery welcome Don Allen to the Bistro and neighborhood. Don was a student of Dan’s and in April, will be a neighbor!

The following story was shared by Dan Feighery during a recent presentation by three residents at The Woodlands to a group of prospective residents considering moving to a retirement community.

“We started with a small two-bedroom house in 1966 and by 1984 we had a three-level, plus basement, house, an acre of land and a 200 foot long driveway. With each move we accumulated more things!

About 15 years ago a medical procedure required my having a short rehab which made me think that, at some point, staying in our house might become a challenge. As we age, our house ages!

In the early 2000s Jean’s mother lived alone in their rural Monticello, New York house. Then in the fall of 2004, we had a phone call from the hospital saying they could not release her to live by herself and that they suspected Alzheimer’s.

We needed to find some place near where we lived. We were appalled at what we saw. A FFX Government Center advisor mentioned a new place called The Gardens at Fair Oaks. Mom moved into their Memory Care Unit. After a few months of proper food, care and medication alignment, she moved upstairs to an assisted living apartment. She lived there happily for about two years before she died in 2006. This was a textbook case of an elderly person trying to care for themselves day-to-day, that had not worked out.

When I was in my early 70s, we were still active with the Lifelong Learning Center at George Mason University. We learned about senior housing, activities of daily living and Continuous Care Retirement Communities ranging from Independent Living to nursing care and the costs involved.

I thought to myself, I’ll probably die before my wife, Jean, and I didn’t want her living alone in the house like her mother had in her later years. I put together an Excel spreadsheet to project costs versus income and investments.

When I was almost 76, we decided instead of paying taxes, as well as heating and cooling unused spaces, and clearing fallen trees, etc, we would review literature from various facilities, planning to sell our home when I turned 80. Over the next few years, we visited several communities and fine-tuned our thinking.

This is Not Just a Real Estate Decision. It is a Way of Life Decision!

We met a retired official from the Federal Emergency Management Agency who said he moved into The Woodlands in 2011 and had a glowing opinion of the community. Since both The Gardens and The Woodlands are run by The Bainum family, he suggested we visit with Ellen.

After an initial conversation with Ellen, we focused on understanding The Woodlands as a possible retirement home. It was a relatively small population of retirees from diverse jobs. We downloaded the Residence and Care Agreement which had “rules to live by.”

Jean and I attended an informal resident/management get-together over coffee and snacks. Chatting with some of the residents, we got the feeling that The Woodlands was more like a friendly neighborhood rather than a hotel or senior apartment.

We attended a weekday dinner and Sunday brunch and a couple of “Community Meetings” with updates by the staff on what was happening in the community.

Before making a final decision, we also took a copy of everything we would have to sign to our lawyer to be sure we understood and needed to get clarification on a couple of things. I was 76 when we then finalized which apartment design we preferred and paid the $1,000 to be on the waiting list, anticipating a year or two wait.

A few months later we had a phone call from Ellen advising us we were number three on a waitlist for an Oaks II design which was becoming available in about three months. We looked back over our notes and financial projections. European Opera and photo trips had to be cut. We said yes and called a real estate agent.

seniors enjoying a Valentine's Day event

Making the Decision to Move to a Senior Retirement Community

Our decision came down to three quality of life factors, plus the cost considerations.

  • We would be close to places important to us. We wanted to stay involved with old friends, churches, George Mason University and a newborn We wanted indoor parking for one car since we remained active in the Northern Virginia area.
  • The Woodlands was a relatively small retirement community with a diverse population of people we thought we would like to know better.
  • The We just had a good feeling when we visited and spoke with both folks who lived here and staff as well.

Special Features that Convinced Us We Made the Right Move

The Dining Room – The Bainum family has made dining a high priority in their senior living communities. Small details add up to a wonderful experience, such as:

  • Tablecloths in the dining room
  • You can reserve a particular table
  • Servers call you by name
  • Menus are published for the following week and you can also ask for adjustments to the day’s menu.
  • You can order the meal to go and eat in your

One meal per day is covered by the fee. You can carry over or use a meal credit for a guest, etc. The Bistro is open for lunch. You can charge, pay or use a meal credit.

Sense of Community – We enjoy getting to know other senior residents and becoming friends with some. Not all our neighbors were born in the United States. Some of the other countries include Australia, England, Germany, and Switzerland.

Casual Social Interactions – a variety of daily, weekly and annual events create a very active independent living lifestyle for residents. Morning round tables, ROMEO’s (a group of Retired Old Men Eating Out that go to a diner each Friday morning), Juliet’s coffee, outdoor barbecues, craft showcase, Great Courses, Senior Olympics, table games and family swims are just a few of the many activities that make The Woodlands such a special place to live.

The Setting: The views out the windows in this 17-acre community can include woods, walking paths and pond, plus individual gardens in the back. All of the amenities are conveniently located in one building including the indoor pool, fitness center, yoga studio, library and movie theater.

Maintenance-free Living – The snow is cleared off residents’ cars, or the cars are moved inside to clear driveways parking. Beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens, all cared for by a professional team of friendly workers who take pride in the appearance of The Woodlands.

Scheduled Transportation – Bonita Lestina Concert Series and other entertainment venues, Oakton Library and museums are just some of the area attractions which are easily accessible with several Woodlands vehicles including a large van and sedans. Regularly scheduled routes to nearby shopping and scheduled medical appointments are convenient with The Woodlands available vehicles.

There are many options for senior living in the Fairfax-northern Virginia area. But the combination of the Bainum family’s extensive experience in senior care communities and their values and priorities of creating a family-oriented living environment for each of their residents convinced Jean and me that we made the right decision.

Contact them today to see if they are the right senior living community for you!

Meet Our Residents and Enjoy Lunch On Us

Join Us for Our Lunch & Learn Event On January 25th

The New Year is the perfect time to join us at The Woodlands. Our residents would like to cordially invite you to an exclusive “Lunch & Learn” event, where you can learn first hand why “Never Retire” is more than just a slogan; it’s a way of life at The Woodlands.

During our special panel discussion you’ll have a chance to ask questions about what inspired our residents to select The Woodlands, what they love about the lifestyle and more. Their presentation will be followed by a complimentary lunch. Reserve your seat today!

Register for Our “Lunch & Learn” Event
Date: Thursday, January 25, 2024
Time: 11:00 – Resident Panel Discussion
12:00 – Lunch with Residents
1:30 – Tour of our amenities and select residences
To reserve your seat, call 571-559-7294 or email Ellen at or Karen at

Never Retire Your Ability to Make a Splash!

Dive into our awesome aquatics classes — available Monday through Friday, mornings and afternoons. The pool temperature is always set at an inviting 90 degrees. Classes are limited to eight per session. For more information about our class schedule and to sign up, please contact our class coordinator, Yene, at 703-667-9800.

Never Retire Your Love for a Great Deal

Enjoy two months’ free rent!

We’re kicking off the New Year with some significant savings. Now, when you move in within 60 days of placing your deposit, you’ll receive two months’ rent for FREE! This offer is only available for select apartment styles.

To tour available residences and discover our luxury lifestyle, call 571-559-7294 or email Ellen at or Karen at

Short Stories of Christmas Memories by Charles Spasaro

The Old Lady at the Bus Stop

I was about 15 years old. A few days before Christmas I was out riding my bike up the street I lived on to the main road, a four-lane road with a medium strip in between. I stopped my bike at the intersection and surveyed the busy traffic going in both directions. I noticed an old lady on the other side standing at the bus stop with both arms full of packages. I dropped my bike and ran across the main road and asked the lady if I could help her. “Oh yes,” she said, “that would be wonderful.”

I grabbed the packages and told her to hold my arm. We slowly, carefully, made our way over the first road to the median strip. She was very frightened. I assured her we were going to be all right. We then crossed the second road and stepped up onto the sidewalk. I asked if she wanted me to carry the packages to her house. She said it was a short distance and she could make it. As she walked off toward home, she turned to me with a look of affection and said, “Thank you my son, have a Merry Christmas.” I felt a warmness come over me that I’ll never forget.

Remembering Christmas Past

One year we took Stephanie and Paul to see the Santa at the Merrifield Nursery. I overheard what the kids told him they wanted. I didn’t hear Stephanie ask for a dollhouse, but I thought it would make a good gift from her mom and me. I bought a kit and began putting it together, working down in the basement almost every night in December after the kids had gone to bed.

On Christmas Eve, I still hadn’t finished it. After I read the kids “The Night Before Christmas,” I went down to the basement and worked on it. About 2:00 o’clock, I was sure I heard a noise upstairs, and then another noise. I thought, could that be Santa? I was very tempted to go up and peek – but I was worried that if he saw me, he might leave. I didn’t go and missed my one chance to see Santa.

Anyhow, I completed the dollhouse about 3 o’clock and half asleep I carried it upstairs and drearily went to bed. The next morning about seven the kids came in jumping on the bed shouting Santa’s come, Santa’s come. My wife and I dragged ourselves downstairs to watch the kids tear into the toys Santa had left. After a while, I said to Stephanie “Look at the dollhouse we made for you.” She walked over, looked at it, said “Thanks, Dad,” and went back to the other toys.

I don’t think she ever played with that dollhouse. But that’s okay, it was a labor of love.

The Thought Behind the Gift

We’ve all received a lot of nice gifts or are going to, and sometimes we lose sight of the “thought behind the gift.” Someone who cares about you, who loves you… thought about what to get you, not just any old gift but what you would like or need. That someone then spent time shopping for the gift and then wrapping it with care.

So, when you look at a gift you are about to open – think about the person who gave it to you and the “thought behind the gift.”

Making Spirits Bright All Season Long!

Please be our guest for a magnificent lineup of talented entertainers throughout the month of December and be sure to mark your calendar for very special open house event on December 14th! Mix, mingle and be merry all season long.

Reserve your spot today for any or all of these festive, fun events. Call 571-559-7294 or email Ellen Limburg at or Karen at


Think of This as Our Holiday Gift to You

Join us for a festive Holiday Social & Open House Event at The Woodlands.

Date: December 14, 2023
Time: 2:00 PM   – 4:00 PM
Location: The Woodlands, 4320 Forest Hill Drive, Fairfax, VA

From twinkling lights and festive decor to music, merriment and morethe magic of the season comes alive at The Woodlands. Come experience it for yourself at our special Holiday Social and Open House event.

  • Mix and mingle with current residents
  • Private self-guided tours of select residences
  • Complimentary refreshments, including vegan and vegetarian options
  • Holiday music and breathtaking decorations 
  • Ask about our special year-end incentives on select, available residences 

Please RSVP by December 12th to let us know how many will attend. Call 571-559-7294 or email Ellen Limburg at or Karen at

Thomas Pandolfi

Piano Recital
Friday, December 1st at  7:00 PM

Living Room

Thomas Pandolfi is one of the leading pianists of our time, hailed a “phenomenon.” He began his career early on while at The Juilliard School (BM & MM) where the young prodigy caught the influential ear of Vladimir Horowitz, who would become his mentor, and legendary composer, Morton Gould. Since then, he has been an audience favorite, selling out the world’s most prestigious stages, including LincolnCenter’s Alice Tully Hall, Strathmore, The Kennedy Center, Kiev Opera House, Bucharest’s RomanianAthenaeum, London’s Cadogan Hall, and many others.

Mr. Pandolfi is a Steinway Artist and will begin recording for Steinway Spirio later this year. Mr.Pandolfi’s performances have been broadcast by PBS, WETA (Washington, DC), WQXR (NYC), WRCJ (Detroit), DCN TV (China), The Sound (DC), and many others worldwide. During his 2019-2020 season, he completed a 20-state tour of the USA, his fourth tour in China, third tour of the UK, and seventh tour of Romania and Moldova.

Good Queen Bess Live!

By Award-Winning Actress & Smithsonian Scholar Mary Ann Jung
Thursday, December 7th at 2:00 PM
Community Room

If playing football’s a crime and roasted peacock’s for supper, it can only mean one thing- QueenElizabeth Tudor is regaling her subjects with tales about life in Renaissance England! Enjoy a royal romp as Her Majesty delightfully describes the foods, pastimes,  clothes, and even manners of her realm. Huzzah!

Les Zazous Concert

Saturday, December 9th at 7:00 PM
Living Room

Inspired by the raw energy of gypsy jazz, the sensual pull of French chanson, and the heat of Latin ballads, all rolled together with stylish American swing, a musical chord was struck. Les Zazous has performed for a long list of notable events from coast to coast, including the Beverly Hills Concert Series, The Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, and The French Embassy in Washington, DC.

The Borisevich Duo

Sunday, December 10th at 4:00 PM
Living Room

The Borisevich Duo, featuring pianist Margarita Loukachkina and violinist Nikita Borisevich, is an internationally acclaimed violin and piano duet, frequently performing across the United States and Europe.

Abbie Palmer on Harp

Friday, December 22nd at 7:00 PM
Living Room

Abbie Palmer is a multi-genre musician, composer, recording artist, music therapist, teacher, meditation facilitator, and music director. With roots in World music, Classical training, and a contemporary writing style, Abbie brings an eclectic and eccentric flavor to any stage.

A Winter Year-end Incentive That Will
Move You

Available Now!
Our spacious Elm III apartment — save up to $40,000 off the entrance fee.

We’re excited to announce that our beautiful Elm III apartment home is currently available and waiting for you. Ideally located, this oversized, open-concept, two-bedroom apartment has a striking northern exposure.

Spacious and modern, the residence features a large, eat-in, fully-applianced kitchen, two large bathrooms and ample closet space throughout. What’s more, if you reserve by December 31, 2023 and move in by March 1, 2024, you’ll enjoy UP TO $40,000 OFF THE ENTRANCE FEE!

Don’t miss out on this limited-time opportunity. Take an in-person tour at our December Open House. For more information about this exciting offer, call 571-559-7294 or email Ellen Limburg at or Karen at

Enjoy Music & More at The Woodlands in November

At The Woodlands, we invite you to “never retire” your zest for the good life. That’s why we’ve created an amazing November line up of special entertainment that you’ll surely be thankful for. From a wide variety of exciting musical performances to a dramatic portrayal of Mark Twain, these events are free to attend and are truly not to be missed.

Space is limited, so please reserve your spot today for one or more of these events. To RSVP,  email Ellen Limburg at or Karen at, or call 703-782-4762.


Thursday, November 2nd – 2:00 PM

Gary Robertson as Mark Twain

Don’t miss Gary Robertson’s portrayal of Mark Twain —an American original whose wisdom and humor have endured for generations. Gary is a former reporter and columnist for Virginia’s largest newspaper where he earned a reputation as a popular banquet speaker.  He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Richmond.

Sunday, November 5th – 7:00 PM
Living Room

Violinist Benedict Goodfriend  

Praised by the New York Times for his “individual virtuosity “ and called “fascinating” and “passionately expressive” by American Record Guide, Benedict Goodfriend is well known to audiences worldwide, having performed well over 1,000 concerts on major concert series in 200 cities.

Monday, November 6th – 3:00 PM
Living Room

Musical—Let’s Give Thanks with Terry Lee Ryan

Saturday, November 11th – 7:00 PM

Living Room


Les Zazous Concert

Inspired by the raw energy of gypsy jazz, the sensual pull of French chanson, and the heat of Latin ballads, all rolled together with stylish American swing, a musical chord was struck. Les Zazous has performed for a long list of notable events from coast to coast, including the Beverly Hills Concert Series, The Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, and The French Embassy in Washington, DC.

Saturday, November 18th – 7:00 PM

Sean Mahon Piano Recital

Sunday, November 19th – 7:30 PM
Living Room

Musical—Let’s Give Thanks with Terry Lee Ryan

Wednesday, November 29th3:30 PM

Hymn Sing with Bill Perry

To learn more about these special events and The Woodlands’ vibrant lifestyle and to take a tour of our many on-site amenities like our fitness center, yoga studio, indoor pool and outdoor bocce court, please email email Ellen Limburg at or Karen at or call 703-782-4762.

The Woodlands is Alive with the Sound of Music in October

Join us for One or More of the Following October Musical Events and Our Special Open House on October 26th

The Woodlands’ events in October are sure to please every musical taste with a broad range of musicians providing everything from a piano concert in the Living Room on October 12th to Oktoberfest-style German accordion music at our Special Open House on October 26th.

Enjoy refreshments and then take a self-guided tour of our residences

Come meet residents of The Woodlands and hear first-hand what makes this such a wonderful community.  Take a self-guided tour of our apartment homes, at your leisure, and learn more about the special incentives being offered at select residences during October. As you tour each residence, a Woodlands resident will be available to answer questions you might have about what it’s like to live at The Woodlands.

Date: Thursday, October 26, 2023
Time: 11:30 AM – 3 PM
Location: The Woodlands, 4320 Forest Hill Drive, Fairfax VA

Complimentary refreshments will be served at a reception hosted by The Woodlands residents.

RSVP: Please RSVP by October 22nd to let us know how many will attend:
Email Ellen Limburg at or Karen at or call 703-782-4762.

Don’t miss these other exciting events happening at The Woodlands in October. Call or email us to reserve your seat(s) for one or more events.

Thursday, October 12th – 7:45 PM
Living Room

Jerry Roman Concert

Friday, October 13th – 4:00 PM

Happy Hour with Steve Kenley

Sunday, October 15th – 7:30 PM
Living Room

“Country Through The Years” with Terry Lee Ryan

Thursday, October 19th – 2:00 PM
Community Room

Clara Barton Live!

Clara Barton, America’s greatest heroine, faced bullying and bullets with astonishing bravery to save the lives of others as a courageous Civil War nurse. She then went on to create The Missing Soldiers Office and the American Red Cross despite formidable obstacles. Audience members become naysayers and believers to discover what these struggles and accomplishments meant on a personal level. This award-winning show inspires all of us to “Never Give Up!”

Sunday, October 22nd – 4:00 PM
Living Room

David Pedrazza & Friends in Concert

Tuesday, October 24th – 3:00 PM

Living Room

Hymn-sing with Bill Perry

Thursday, October 26th – 11 AM
Community Room

Special Open House and German Accordion Music featuring Justin Paschalides

Justin is an active performer in the Metropolitan area. He has led rock groups, once opening for the famous Jefferson Starship.  He has conducted orchestras for musical theater, coordinated and performed church music programs, plays accordion for farmer’s markets, restaurants, Oktoberfest, coffee houses, plays jazz for private events, hotels, embassies, weddings, leads Christmas caroling, and studied classical Indian Hindustani music to perform on harmonium and sitar, once even for the Kennedy Center. Justin is a member of the Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society

Friday, October 27th – 4:00 PM

Happy Hour with “Jumpin Joe” and his Motown/Oldies Show

Performing all the classic hits of Motown from The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Martha & The Vandella’s & lots more………
You may also hear “Jumpin Joe” tributes to Elvis, Sinatra, Micheal Jackson, The Drifters, Platters, and the Coasters.

Sunday, October 29th – 7:00 PM
Living Room

Ronn McFarlane

Ronn is a Grammy-nominated lutenist whom The Washington Times describes as playing “…..some of the most ravishing lute playing to be heard anywhere.”

Seating at these events is limited. To reserve your seat(s) for any or our October events, email Ellen Limburg at or Karen at or call 703-667-9801

September is Sizzlin’ at The Woodlands

Reserve Your Place Now for Our September Special Events

From musical entertainment to lectures on health and history and tutorials on how to maximize the use of your iPhone or Android devices, The Woodlands events in September offer something for everyone. These events are free, but you must register in advance to reserve your seat(s). We look forward to you joining us at one or more of these special events.

Tuesday, September 5th – 7:30 PM
Living Room – The Woodlands

Me & Martha
National Treasures of America’s Mountain Music
Dr. Don DePoy and Ms. Martha Hills are Internationally Acclaimed Members of America’s Old-Time Country Music Hall of Fame. Known as “Authentic Masters of Appalachian Music,” this concert features music from mellow folk and sizzling bluegrass to sultry swing.  This evening of music of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and beyond includes an extensive repertoire with sweet harmony and hot pickin’. Reserve your seats now (see contact information below) for this special musical evening.

Friday, September 8th – 4:00 – 5:00 PM
Community Room – The Woodlands

Bill Perry Performance
Captain Bill Perry, Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy (Retired) began his ministry as Associate Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Springfield, Ohio. A graduate of Hamma School of Theology and Carthage College, he holds a Bachelor of Science, Master of Divinity, and an honorary Doctor of Divinity. While at St. John’s, he was named the Clark County “Man of the Year.”

Saturday, September 9th – 7:30 PM
Living Room – The Woodlands

Les Zazous Concert
Inspired by the raw energy of gypsy jazz, the sensual pull of French chanson, and the heat of Latin ballads, all rolled together with stylish American swing, a musical chord was struck. Les Zazous has performed for a long list of notable events from coast to coast, including the Beverly Hills Concert Series, The Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, and The French Embassy in Washington, DC.

Thursday, September 14th – 2:00 PM
Community Room – The Woodlands

GMU Lecture with Steve Barnes:
“Russia’s War on Ukraine: Origins & Update”
Steven Barnes is Associate Professor of Russian History and Director of the Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Mason University. He teaches courses on Russian and Soviet history while engaged in research on the history of the Soviet forced labor camp system (the Gulag) and the global history of the concentration camp as a modern form of population control. He is the author of the multi-award-winning “Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society.”  He is currently completing a book on a Stalinist Gulag camp for women arrested merely for being the wives of men who were unjustly repressed.

Friday, September 15th – 4:00 PM
Bistro – The Woodlands

Happy Hour with Steve Kenley
Steve Kenley is a singer/guitarist in the Washington DC area. He plays daily in Washington-area Clubs and restaurants. As a solo act, Steve sings and plays acoustic guitar and harmonica.

Reserved seating – limited number available 

Tuesday, September 19th – 2:00 PM
Community Room – The Woodlands

iPhone Tutorial with Hannah Behr
Hannah Behr is a freelance Information Technology Specialist and currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity at the University of Maryland with a minor in mathematics. On the side, she is a Fitness and Nutrition Coach with a specialization in seniors.
(Please sign up by Friday, September 15th)

Thursday, September 21st – 2:00 PM
Community Room – The Woodlands

Android Tutorial with Hannah Behr
Hannah Behr is a freelance Information Technology Specialist and currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity at the University of Maryland with a minor in mathematics. On the side, she is a Fitness and Nutrition Coach with a specialization in seniors.
(Please sign up by Friday, September 15th)

Monday, September 25th – 2:00 PM
Community Room – The Woodlands

GMU Lecture with Dr. Lawrence Cheskin
“Diet and Obesity”
Dr. Lawrence J. Cheskin is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies in the College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University. He is a practicing physician who founded and directed the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. He has written several books on weight control and performs research on effective means of dieting.

Seating at these events is limited. To reserve your seat(s) for any or our September events, email Ellen Limburg at or Karen at or call 703-667-9801

Betty, The Tag Sale Deal Maker

Don’t Miss Your Ultimate Shopping Spree August 31st

See Something You’ll Like
Tour Some Place You’ll Love

Discover one of the many ways our residents enjoy living at The Woodlands. Spend an afternoon of shopping, food and fun. Then take a self-guided tour of our apartments homes – at your leisure – and experience first hand what life here is like as you mix and mingle with the people who live in our wonderful community.


Date: Thursday, August 31, 2023
Time: 11 AM – 2 PM
Location: The Woodlands, 4320 Forest Hill Drive, Fairfax, VA


Enjoy self-guided tours of our residences and complimentary refreshments.

Please RSVP to let us know how many will attend.

Email Ellen Limburg at or Karen at or call 703-667-9801

Downsizing to a Retirement Home

Planning can never begin soon enough, starting when your nest empties for the first or last time. With kids in college, we bought a new bedroom set because I didn’t want to take our original one to our retirement home.  When a sport or activity ends, like soccer, boating, hunting, skiing, camping, get rid of the equipment and paraphernalia. All that sells quickly on your local Craig’s List.

Plan by previewing the retirement communities in the area you want to live.  We put down deposits at three or four places fifteen years before we finally moved.  After settling three estates and knowing our own extensive household goods there is no way we wanted our children to have to do it.

Early planning includes finding the value of your home and who will sell it.  You may have a realtor you liked from before or ask for referrals from friends.  Part of the initial interview is advice on what updating you should do to make your home more saleable.  Painting or decluttering can be done in a short time, but even small upgrading of bathrooms or kitchens takes time if something cannot be bought at Home Depot.

Once you have decided on a new place, measure every room on the floor plan yourself down to an inch.  Then measure the furniture you want to take.  Will a secretary, sofa and end table fit on the living room wall?  Will a king size bed fit?  Will the leather desk chair fit or maybe trade it for a smaller one that slides under the desk?  Decide what you want to take with you before you start giving away or selling what you have.  Be aware of smaller pieces of furniture that might fit and be useful, particularly if it is a cabinet or has shelves or drawers. Keep them.

When you know what is not going with you, invite all your family to come over a Saturday or stay the weekend.  Empty items from all your cabinets, drawers, closets and put on tables in the garage, pool table, dining room table for them to take.  Send them pictures of furniture pieces available and they can pick what they want before coming with a truck or hitched tow.  Be sure your own children have had first pick before this event, a family reunion with plenty of food and drink.  A cousin’s granddaughter took an antique bed.  This occasion gave us the most pleasant surprise of happiness in seeing many family pieces staying in the family.

Time spent on planning the kitchen will save you space.  Why take your heavy Kitchen Aid mixer when you are not going to be cooking anymore and have a hand mixer for the occasional cake?  Take pictures of the cabinets with the doors open and plan where everything will go, including the items in the kitchen desk you won’t have.   Baskets and empty tins organize small items on a shelf. Under bed storage is the answer to where to put everything including leaves for the dining room table and plastic boxes to hold out of season clothes.  Closet space can be expanded with another layer of shelves or a lower rack for pants or shirts.

You know that you can’t take four beds to a two-bedroom apartment or two sofas for one living room. However, small things are great for versatility.  Nesting tables get split up to hold plants or be a small end table. Flower vases and plant pots, pruning scissors, gardening tools in a tote bag if you will have a garden plot.  Odd dishes and bowls and baskets to hold the odds and ends of daily life.  A big trash can sits next to the washer and holds the big detergent bottle, swifter, and broom that won’t fit on a shelf. It’s easy to get rid of something you find you don’t need in your new life, but you can’t go back and get what you didn’t bring.

Organizing shelves and drawers is easier with containers from the supermarket.  Costco has a box of chocolates with a clear plastic bottom and top, which are wonderful liners under a plant pot or grouping toiletries together in a vanity, plastic containers of all sizes for all those items you shouldn’t just throw in a drawer.  If you’re putting baskets or totes on a high shelf, print out and attach a sign what is in it.

We had at least four foot stools in our home, and I use three folding ones now, one each in the closet, kitchen, and laundry room.  A folding stair of 2 steps gets me to the back of high shelves.  Don’t forget you can put things on top of cabinets, especially pretty flowerpots.   Another fixture hanging on our laundry room wall is a Dustbuster for the small vacuuming necessary due to weekly housekeeping service.

We moved many things ourselves, especially setting up the kitchen and bathrooms and having the sheets and pajamas for our bed the first night.  The boxes will be overwhelming when the movers have gone, but you’re too exhausted to attack them.  Up at 6am I’d unpack and put the empties out in the hallway but didn’t unlock the door.  I stepped out and ended up going to the reception desk in my pjs to get a key.  My sleeping husband never would have heard the doorbell, and I didn’t have my phone on me. Neighbors retold the story until I was streaking across the main lobby.

Mentioning my husband, reminds me that it is very important that he be given space for his things.  His own closet, area of cabinet shelves for bourbon and batteries, and floor space for his toolbox made mine happy.

I’m not a hoarder or pack rat, but over the years I made decisions of keeping some papers and then promptly forgot about them.  Forty years later the movers found college term papers and 1990 budget papers in bottom drawers or on top shelves of closets and sent them along to resurface in the unpacking…..maybe I can take a look at them and hopefully see how much sharper my writing skills have become.

All during the process of moving, every half hour seemed like a whiplash from one task to another, so you do foolish things. After trying to reach housekeeping that my brand-new dryer wasn’t working, I learned I must slam the door shut, or the second time we ordered takeout dinner, when John appeared with only one bag, I realized I never filled out my side of the form.

So many widowed friends said how fortunate I am to have a husband helping to make decisions and sharing all the work.  Two contemporaries downsizing at the same time as we hired people to do it all. We’re both organizers by nature and physically and technologically able to do the whole process on our own.  We know where everything went and what we have with us now, including all the letters between us from Vietnam years and the ones Mother saved that we wrote from two years in Germany, fifty-four years ago.  Now that the years of worry over ‘what are we going to do’ are over, maybe we will find time to reread them.

The Woodlands offers independent living that focuses on the health and wellness of our residents. If you would like to learn more about what we have to offer, call us at 703-667-9801 or schedule your visit for a consultation on our positive living opportunities. We serve the Fairfax, VA area and beyond.

3 Steps for Prepping Your Home Before Moving Into a Retirement Community

Moving from a home to a retirement community can be stressful and unsettling. It is a huge adjustment.

Retirement Community Benefits

However, it can also be a positive experience even if you have lived independently for many years. Here are some ways you can make the move and change easier for yourself or a loved one:

    1. Research retirement communities. There may be several retirement communities at your location. Research their amenities online to see if they meet your needs and expectations. Arrange for visits and tours at each community that meets your interest. The one you choose may not be the one that you stay in for the rest of your life. However, if you like it, it will be better in the long run as it reduces the stresses and expenses of moving. Amenities are crucial. Confirm that they have indoor amenities (fitness center, library, etc.) and the personal enrichment opportunities you like and need such as day trips, religious services, and walking or hiking outings.


      1. Collect and file important documents. This is the perfect time to confirm that you have all of the important documents that you need (wills, power of attorney, medical arrangements, end-of-life care, etc). See if any document needs to be updated. Additionally, obtain birth certificates, marriage certificates, military records, bank records, life insurance, medical insurance, and other pertinent financial documents. These should be filed and easily located.
      2. Update contact information. Let all of your important contacts know about your relocation. Your physician, lawyer, property insurance agent, medical insurance agent, neighbor, and any other person on their list needs to know without compromising your privacy.
      3. Scaling down property. Another positive thing about moving into a retirement community is the opportunity to downsize your personal property. You can go through all of your possessions and choose what should go with you and what can be sold or given away. You can also choose items that can be given to specific family members such as a treasured heirloom, art, or jewelry.

      1. Clean your home. Once you have removed all or most of your property, now the house can be thoroughly cleaned. You may want to hire a professional cleaning company to do it. Additionally, make sure nails have been removed from walls, cabinets have been cleaned out, showers and bathrooms are scoured, mirrors and doors sprayed and cleaned and trash has been moved to the curb for the trash truck to pick up.
      2. Have a sentimental goodbye. As you leave your home that is filled with memories, enjoy one last look and all the memories that were lived there. Then when you arrive at the retirement community, celebrate and appreciate your new home!

Moving to a retirement community requires much research. You can make that transition easier by following the steps above. So, gather all the information you need and make visits and return visits before making your decision. ***

The Woodlands offers independent living that focuses on the health and wellness of our residents. If you would like to learn more about what we have to offer, call us at 703-667-9801 or schedule your visit for a consultation on our positive living opportunities. We serve the Fairfax, VA area and beyond.

*** Find out how retirement communities are caring options for seniors.

seniors laughing together

The Benefits of Independent Living on Health and Wellness

seniors laughing together

Independent Living communities are places for seniors to thrive and enjoy their golden years. It’s a positive living arrangement.

Recent studies have shown that seniors with a physically active lifestyle through middle and older age are in better physical and mental health.*  It’s essential that seniors not give up on life and sit in a rocking chair on the porch every day. A healthy lifestyle that includes a variety of activities will not only add years to their lives but will improve their quality of life immensely.

The more active a senior is, the better they will feel and the healthier they will be. Active seniors have fewer health problems than inactive ones. Active seniors also experience all the benefits that come with active engagement in activities.

Why Are Independent Living Communities Important?

Rosa, the painter

Independent living communities function as a place where active seniors who need a low-stress, all-inclusive lifestyle can thrive. Independent living communities don’t offer medical services, but they do have benefits that reward retirement with opportunities to enjoy their hobbies, pursue new hobbies, and incorporate a healthy lifestyle.

Here are just five of the many benefits independent living offers to the health and wellness of seniors:

  1. A calming environment. Most independent living communities have an age requirement of 55 years or older. This means there will be no late-night events or hearing babies cry in the middle of the night. The amenities for seniors such as the indoor pool at The Woodlands give residents a restful, judgement-free place to exercise and relax. They can float around in the pool for hours, socialize with their peers and take part in fitness classes.
  2. Physical fitness. Independent living communities excel in the health and wellness needs of senior adults. From in-studio and aquatic exercise classes or water aerobics classes led by experienced, on-site instructors to nutritionist classes, independent living communities offer a wide variety of health and wellness opportunities. Seniors can do activities they enjoy and try new activities that challenge them. This regular physical activity reduces the risk of chronic disease, pain, and premature death. The Woodlands also has a walking trail, adjacent to the building, for daily and weekly walks alone or with a group.

indoor pool

  1. Never be alone again. Sadly, over 30 percent of seniors live by themselves. This results in becoming less socially active. Some alone time is positive, but too much can lead to depression, cognitive decline, and even early death. Independent living communities allow seniors to have a vibrant social life without the stress of making transportation arrangements. Weekly activity schedules could include social events like The Woodlands has including game nights, special speakers, or local trips to the library, museum, or theater.
  2. No housekeeping or chores. After decades of cleaning and maintaining a home, mowing the lawn, cleaning toilets, vacuuming the floor, and doing laundry, seniors are ready to have someone else do that for them. Independent living communities give residents a maintenance-free lifestyle so all that time that was taken up with home chores can now be for other enriching activities.
  3. Ability to be yourself. By the time a person reaches 55 years or older, they have raised a family and pursued a career. Now that the children have moved on and started their own lives and the career pursuit is done, seniors can now look into other activities and hobbies they didn’t have the time to pursue. These interests may include painting, traveling, volunteering, or even learning a different language. You can be who you want and live how you want. There are no longer the stresses of aging at home.

seniors enjoying a Valentine's Day event

Those are just a few of the many benefits of independent living on health and wellness. Seniors can live healthier and happier lives now in this active, maintenance-free lifestyle.

The Woodlands offers independent living that focuses on the health and wellness of our residents. If you would like to learn more about what we have to offer, call us at 703-667-9801 or schedule your visit for a consultation on our positive living opportunities. We serve the Fairfax, VA area and beyond.

* A 2004 research study by Hamer M, Lavoie KL, Bacon SL. Taking up physical activity in later life and healthy aging. You can read the NIH article here.