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Aiming for 100

Making plans to keep the good times rolling

Created date

December 19th, 2018
Someone, in red pants and a grey coat who's face is off camera, shovels through deep snow.

In 2017, Barbara Penningroth was shoveling three feet of snow off her deck while nursing a rotator cuff injury. This winter, she can watch the snow fall from her gorgeous floor-to-ceiling window at Wind Crest without lifting a finger.

Barbara Penningroth expects to live to 100. She has a long history of centenarians and nonagenarians in her family. And while it’s an exciting goal, she wants to be prepared for living that long. 

“My mother lived to 100, but she ran out of money,” says Barbara, who took care of her mother financially and physically. “I started thinking this could happen to me.”

That’s why Barbara set a proactive plan in place. At 75, she moved to a continuing care retirement community in Highlands Ranch, Colo., from her house in Mount Shasta, in Northern California.

She chose Wind Crest for its maintenance-free lifestyle, its fee-for-service continuing care structure, its plethora of on-site amenities and activities, and its emphasis on a healthy, active lifestyle.

What’s more, it’s a not-for-profit, which gave her the assurance that her care and happiness—and not the company’s bottom line—would be top priority.

Erickson Living, Wind Crest’s parent company, provides all of those things with beautifully appointed apartment homes and a stunning campus just outside Denver. As it’s the furthest west Erickson Living community among the 20 properties nationwide, Barbara felt it was the best fit for her future.

“Wind Crest actually met all of my priorities better than anything else I saw,” says Barbara.

Moving forward

She took the next step and joined the priority list by making a fully refundable $1,000 deposit and a nonrefundable $150 application fee to reserve the apartment home of her choice.

Priority list members receive exclusive invitations to members-only events like downsizing and moving workshops, and meet-and-greet happy hours.

They also have the opportunity to stay overnight for one night at the community to experience life there firsthand. Because of the great distance Barbara was traveling, Wind Crest made arrangements for her to stay and visit with a variety of community members for several days.

“I went to everything,” Barbara says. “Exercise classes, continuing education classes, I swam in the pool, looked at the financial reports, toured apartments, and read the contract and handbook from cover to cover. I toured Mill Vista Lodge, the on-site continuing care neighborhood, in case I would ever need it.”

She also studied the financial structure and her monthly income. “The 90% return was really important to me. And the commitment to allow you to stay in your apartment if you run out of money is there,” [as stated in the Residence and Care Agreement] which eased her concerns about living longer.

Finally, during her stay, she interviewed about 100 people. “I would walk up to someone and say I’m thinking about coming here, and I asked them three questions,” Barbara says.

She asked why they chose Wind Crest.

She asked what they love abut Wind Crest that really make them glad they came.

And she asked what they’ve found problematic or difficult living at Wind Crest.

“I heard almost nothing negative!” she says. “It was more about getting here than being here. Mostly, people said they waited too long. That they’re not able to take advantage of everything here. They wished they’d moved sooner.”

That tipped the scales for Barbara. She was moving to Wind Crest.

As social and active as ever

It didn’t take long for Barbara to settle in, as she’s now more social than she’s ever been, she says.

As a weaver, spinner, and quilter, she fits right in with the community’s fabric arts group. She enjoys walking on the High Line Canal Trail, which bisects the campus, and hiking and kayaking in nearby Chatfield Park.

She’s also brought her green thumb with her from California, where she helped develop “intensive gardening” or “square foot gardening” in her Mount Shasta community. “It’s a way of getting more plants and food out of a smaller space,” she explains.

That notion fits well into her 8- by 8-foot garden at Wind Crest, where she grows four different kinds of peas, four kinds of chard, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, radishes, and carrots.

She attends Catholic Mass on campus, which she never has to miss because of inclement weather. “If it’s snowing, I just walk across the [climate-controlled] walkway, and I’m at Mass,” she says.

She attends local cultural events, movies, and continuing education courses. She dines at one of six on-site restaurants daily. “I feel it’s an incredibly good fit, and I’m very happy,” she says.

As a resident ambassador, she shares these Wind Crest experiences with people considering it as their next home. She answers their questions and gives tips for making the move a positive one.

“I think that, for me, it’s been really, really a good fit. And I think a lot of that has been because I knew exactly what to expect since I did my homework,” she says. “If you’re coming from out of town I would really recommend a visit like I did.”