Not long ago, Tallgrass Creek resident Judy Higginbotham assumed she would be in her large, comfortable home for many more years. It was located in a lovely neighborhood, close to a popular golf course in Kansas City, Mo.
Judy and her late husband "Higg", a retired American Airlines pilot, moved into their 6000 square foot home in 1999 and enjoyed the neighborhood and proximity to the golf course. The couple met at American Airlines, where Judy also worked as a stewardess, and were married for 37 years.
"After my husband passed away, I continued living in our home for 14 more years," says Judy. "I was quite comfortable and happy there."
But as time passed, Judy found the upkeep on her large home was becoming both physically and financially draining.
"I started thinking about downsizing to a villa or townhome," says Judy. "I just thought it would be more manageable."
Then one day, Judy was driving along busy Metcalf Avenue in nearby Overland Park, Kans., and "happened upon" the entrance to Tallgrass Creek. On a whim she turned in, drove up to the guard's gate, and asked for information about the independent living retirement community.
"The next thing I knew I was talking with Elaine Bahr (Tallgrass Creek's sales counselor)," says Judy. "She told me all about Tallgrass Creek and Hummingbird Square, the new residence building that was under construction at that time."
Judy also learned that Tallgrass Creek was one of 20 retirement communities owned and operated by Baltimore, Md.-based Erickson Living. But she knew nothing about other retirement communities in the area, so during the next few months, she visited a few.
"I kept returning to Tallgrass Creek because of the great location, security, and staff who impressed me immensely," says Judy. "I also liked the thought of moving where there were other people, around my age."
Though Judy was still uncertain, she joined Tallgrass Creek's priority list, put her home on the market, and reserved an apartment at Hummingbird Square.
Her decision surprised her friends and two grown sons.
"I play golf and am quite active," says Judy. "They thought I wasn't ready to move to a retirement community."
Judy, too, continued having second thoughts, so finally she took her home off the market and decided to wait a little longer.
"It was a confusing time for me," says Judy. "Blake (sales director at Tallgrass Creek) and I talked and it became clear the decision was not going to get easier. I did enjoy my home but I wanted a simpler life."
She was also concerned about losing the large, Oxford-design, two bedroom apartment and corner location she had selected at Hummingbird Square. So after more thought, Judy's home went back on the market, and she re-reserved her apartment.
"Since the new building was still under construction, I only saw the floor plan and never my actual apartment," says Judy. "It was a leap of faith on many levels but as it turns out, a really good one."
Making it happen
Judy's next challenge was planning her move, which she dreaded.
"You accumulate a lot when you live in a home for 20 years," says Judy. "I didn't know where to start."
She started with Nancy Worthington, Tallgrass Creek's Personal Moving Consultant who has helped simplify the moves of many residents.
Nancy visited Judy's home with a template that showed the floor plan of her new apartment at Tallgrass Creek. They played with the template, determining which pieces of Judy's furniture would work best in the new space.
"Nancy really knows her job and is very reassuring," says Judy. "She has wonderful suggestions and contacts."
Many of those contacts were part of the Erickson Realty and Moving Services, a program offering complimentary coordination of all moving needs including downsizing, home staging, packing, and selection of real estate professionals.
Judy worked with Erickson-recommended Gentle Changes, a business dedicated to helping seniors downsize and move. The owner, Linda Scardino, helped Judy go through her belongings and determine what, and where, to donate items she and her family did not need.
"Linda and her helpers were my guardian angels," says Judy. "They made my fears about packing and moving go away."
She also used C & C Relocation, an Erickson-recommended mover. On moving day, they worked with Gentle Changes to ensure a safe, efficient move.
"Moving day worked like a well-oiled machine," says Judy. "Everything was arranged beautifully. Boxes were all gone and even my bed was made at the end of the day. My sons and I were amazed."
Number one resident
Judy moved to Hummingbird Square a year ago and claims some special recognition. She was the very first resident in the new building.
"I didn't feel alone at all that first day," says Judy."The staff went out of their way to make sure I had everything I needed."
But though she loved her sunny, new apartment, Judy still had some preconceived notions about her new life at Tallgrass Creek.
"I assumed I would eat in my apartment alone every night," says Judy. "I couldn't have been more wrong."
She quickly bonded with a fun group of new friends who also moved to Hummingbird Square.
They enjoy dining in Tallgrass Creek's Blue Sky Restaurant and participating together in other activities.
"I love my water aerobics class," says Judy. "It makes a huge difference when you connect with others."
Since her move, Judy also reports another bonus.
"My annual checkup showed I was in better shape," says Judy. "I attribute it to less stress from living here at Tallgrass Creek."
These days, Judy continues to meet her longtime friends for golf and other activities, and also enjoys an active life at Tallgrass Creek. She and her sons are grateful for the day she turned into Tallgrass Creek's entrance, requesting information.
"I went from not knowing if I wanted to move to Tallgrass Creek to really loving it here," says Judy. "My sons say it's the best gift I ever gave them."