Presentation: Anita L. Holt – The Forest at Duke

Comedy Central could not have topped Monday’s meeting, but that is another story.  Anita Holt’s presentation on retirement care in this area and nationwide had its own share of one line zingers.  Many of today’s retirees would say “I may be old, but I got to see all the best bands.”   

Rob Everett who introduced Anita said that many club members have requested a program on retirement.  He could think of no one better able to tackle this issue Anita Holt who, for the last four and a half years, has been President and CEO of The Forest at Duke.  With more than twenty-five years in the field of elder care, club member Anita has observed enormous changes and challenges in recent years. 

 One notable national trend has been the changing demographics of retirement communities.  No longer is “The Home” the domain of widows occasionally interrupted excitedly by the arrival of “a new guy.”  Increasingly, couples—something on the order of sixty percent—are moving in, ranging in age from “leading edge Boomers” to the elderly.   

Although roughly ninety percent of retirement communities are faith based, increasingly it is becoming a for-profit industry catering to the specific needs of consumers.  “Cafeteria plans” popularized in California are becoming more common with retirees saying “I want breadfast but not lunch or housekeeping.”  No longer are what she calls the “four Bs”—bingo, bridge, birthdays and bible study—adequate.  Increasingly, residents expect well-equipped fitness centers, intellectual and cultural stimulation, spiritual support and opportunities to “reinvent” themselves.  Considering the wide variety of dietary needs and food preferences, it is not surprising that common complaint is about food.  But, Anita is quick to point out, she knows of “no one who has lost weight.” 

 Access to continuing medical care—from primary care to specialists to skilled nursing to palliative care—are important considerations for many retirees.  The arrival of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1980s had a transformative effect on this issue.   

 For those who those who don’t want to leave home and, instead to “age in place’” there are options.  With the scattering of families, dependence on relations is less common today than in the past.  As an example, Anita said her sister who lives in Pennsylvania could be depended on “to come and get my jewelery.”  Systems to meet the needs of the “aging in place” are increasingly available to provide catered meals, light housework, transportation, and in-home medical care. 

 The elephant in the room, of course, is the financial angle.  How many of us have properly planned for retirement?  Do we have enough savings or other assets?   It is not too early to begin laying plans. 

 Submitted by Allen Cronenberg 

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