Two years ago, Chip and Sandy Wazeter got a wake-up call. Seemingly healthy, Chip suffered a severe heart attack at age 70. "It was quite a shock to everyone," he says.
It made them realize that medical emergencies can happen at any age. With no children and few family members around, Chip and Sandy began researching places to live that would provide them peace of mind should another medical emergency arise in the future.
"I asked my wife what she would have done if I wasn't around anymore. She didn't have an answer. I said not having an answer is not a good thing; we have to do something. We have nobody to help us out, no children. She would have a big house and no idea what to do with it," recalls Chip, a retired New York City fireman. "I wanted to take care of my wife. I didn't want to leave her out in the cold if something should happen to me."
At the time, living in Staten Island, N.Y., they had never heard of continuing care retirement communities. When they received a mailer that introduced them to the concept, they began visiting area properties. That's when they discovered Seabrook, the Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls, N.J.
As frequent visitors to Atlantic City, N.J., they liked Seabrook's location and proximity to the Garden State Parkway. They also appreciated the friendliness of staff and residents, and the treatment they received before moving in. But most importantly, it was the best value for their money.
"Financially, it was the community we could afford for what they offer," he says. They chose a one-bedroom with patio Ellicott floor plan, which Chip says suits their needs perfectly. "Choosing a one-bedroom substantially reduces your monthly fee. We have no need for anything larger; it fulfills our needs. We have a small yard adjacent to the patio. I love it; it's just great. I go out on the patio and have my coffee in the morning in spring and summer."
Both Chip and Sandy are busy outside of their apartment, taking full advantage of Seabrook's on-campus amenities, which are an extension of their home.
"Seabrook has the most to offer in amenities and meal allowances compared to anywhere else. Everything Seabrook has to offer is in our favor," Chip says.
In fact, when Chip compared the cost of living in their large house to the cost of living at Seabrook, he found he'd be saving $1,000 a month.
Seabrook's financial structure has two main components. The first is a onetime entrance fee, which is 90% refundable to you or your heirs (the Residence and Care Agreement has full details). The second cost is a predictable monthly service package. One check each month covers most day-to-day expenses, including apartment home maintenance, property taxes, heating and air-conditioning, trash and recycling collection at your door, dining plans and options, basic cable TV, regularly scheduled transportation, 24-hour security and emergency response services, plus access to a wealth of campus amenities.
In addition to amenities like an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, classrooms, bank, CVS pharmacy, church services, a library, billiards room, restaurants, Great Lawn with outdoor amphitheater, community gardens, and more than 120 activities and clubs, a full-service medical center is located right on campus with full-time physicians that only serve Seabrook community members.
Chip and Sandy volunteer as resident ambassadors and on the welcoming committee to help acclimate new neighbors to the community. Chip is active in the veterans club, fitness center, and swimming pool. The couple enjoys the nightly happy hour before dining with friends in one of Seabrook's three restaurants.
"We take advantage of just about everything here," says Chip. "I intend to keep getting more and more involved. Right now, I have enough. I'm never bored here."
For any off-campus needs, Seabrook provides scheduled shuttle service. To Chip, that's a huge weight off his shoulders.
"My wife doesn't want to drive anymore because she used to drive a lot. I feel that if, God forbid, something should happen to me, my wife would not need to have a car anymore. Living at Seabrook, she can access anything she could want to do," he says. "You do not need a car here at Seabrook. It is independent living in the truest sense of the word."