How Couples Can Live Happily Ever After in Assisted Living

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Ruth and Henry met as graduate students in the German department at Cornell University in 1964. He was studying German literature with minors in philosophy and linguistics and she Germanic linguistics with minors in general linguistics and German literature.

“I had been there as a graduate student for a couple years before Henry,” Ruth recalls. “I was working for the professor, and I knew there was only one new male graduate student coming that year, and that was Henry.”

They married in 1965, graduated, and moved to Midwest, where Henry spent 35 years teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the couple raised two girls and two boys.

Reveling in Retirement

After retiring in 2003, Ruth and Henry spent a year teaching English to second-language learners in China before returning to Illinois.

For many years, you’d probably find Ruth behind her sewing machine, working in her 40-plot garden, or catching up with her daughter who lived in town. As for Henry, he’d probably be behind his computer, working on a paper about a north German poet. You could always count on seeing them at church Sunday morning.

Then, last June, their son David and daughter-in-law visited from Ellington, Connecticut.

“They mentioned a new senior living facility opening in Ellington,” Ruth says. “I said, ‘Well, I’m going to live here until they carry me out.’ But the next day, our daughter who lived in Illinois said that she had been transferred to Texas by State Farm, where she worked. So that would mean we had no children living in the same state as us. We decided we ought to think about this new place in Ellington.”

Making the Move

It wasn’t easy downsizing from a five-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment, but Ruth and Henry took their time. They gave away a lot of things to friends and church members, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity, and they packed the rest in a moving truck headed for Ellington.

“The Ivy at Ellington had no waiting list. The location was ideal. It’s less than two miles from our son and daughter-in-law and their four children. It’s close to the church we attend. It’s close to the YMCA where we exercise,” says Ruth as she rattles off the list of reasons why she and Henry chose the Ivy at Ellington.

Henry and Ruth are healthy and spunky 80- and 78-year-olds, respectively, and they’re both very active in their new home.

“We get up at 5:30 a.m., and we get to the YMCA. We exercise. We shower. We have breakfast, and then we have a busy day,” Henry says. “We have a normal, fulfilling life.”

When they’re not working out or going to church, the couple might be enjoying a play production at Ellington High School, going out to eat at a local restaurant with other Ivy at Ellington residents, or hanging out with their four grandkids.

Planning for the Future

They also think about what’s going to happen next. They don’t need daily assistance today — though Henry does appreciate not needing to mow the lawn and Ruth enjoys having the sheets changed and washed — but they will someday.

They asked their local son to be their power of attorney and drew up their will and trust. And when the time comes that they need more care, all they have to do is ask the Ivy at Ellington team members.

“All we’d have to do is say we want more assistance,” Ruth says, “and they’ll do that.”

For now, Henry is going to keep working on his paper, and Ruth is going to work on scrapbooking and researching family history.

“We’re young and healthy enough to be able to enjoy life here,” Ruth says. “We came here to live.”

Would your parents benefit from stress-free retirement? Schedule a tour today to see if the Ivy at Ellington is the right community for your parents.

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    The Arbors / Ivy has been awarded 2023 Reader Raves Award as Best Assisted Living Community