Blog Article

Early Acceptance -- A Thriving Way of Life

March 9, 2017 -

Gretchen, Director of Admissions and Public Relations, has provided a little background information on the Carol Woods Early Acceptance (EA) Program. The EA program was the first of its kind in North Carolina and is designed to provide an alternative to on-campus living for local community members who live within 15 miles of Carol Woods. The model had to be approved by the North Carolina Department of Insurance, which oversees the regulation of all Continuing Care Retirement Communities in the state.

The first EA residents were admitted in the fall of 2012. To date, 129 Priority List members have chosen to be part of this off-campus program in which residents stay in their own homes. During the past two years, 38 EA residents have moved to campus.  We currently have 91 in the EA program. 

As you will see in the following narratives by EA residents, some become totally immersed in Carol Woods activities and committees while others just dabble a little bit.  EA residents can attend Newcomer’s Orientation sessions to see what is happening on campus and how they can become more involved. They are invited to become a part of on-campus life by joining clubs and committees, enjoying the cultural and entertainment offerings, taking classes, exercising in the Fitness Center, working in the Art Studio and Craft Shop, sipping sherry by the fire, gardening in the Community Garden, using the Health Clinic and dining at a reduced rate. 

But perhaps EA residents’ most important sense of security comes from the health care provisions. They are eligible for the resident discounted rates in the Health Center should they need it and accrue free Health Center days at the same rate as on-campus residents. But most of all, EA residents know that a change in health status won’t prevent them from moving to Carol Woods. 

Although some of our EA residents may have at least one foot firmly planted in the broader Chapel Hill community, almost 30% of them have chosen to take the leap into the 120 wooded acres of Carol Woods.  We welcome EA residents wherever they are.

Possessed or Self-Possessed?

Whatever could have possessed us to move from our comfortable position on the Carol Woods waiting list (we signed up in December of 2009) to Early Acceptance in the Spring of 2014? We were living in our dream home in Orange County. We had 10 magical wooded acres, an “aging-in-place house” with a lap pool, and fabulous vegetable gardens, native perennials, shrubs and trees.  Our intention had truly been to age in place and remain in our home as long as possible. We designed the house with a “casita” for “Nurse Betty” so that we could bring on live-in assistance as needed.

What changed? As we aged, that lovely garden and pool began to seem more and more like work rather than a source of joy and pleasure. We became aware of how isolated we could become and how much assistance would be needed to stay in our home as time went by.  Early Acceptance seemed like a good insurance policy that would allow us to stay where we were until the cottage of our choice became available, while knowing that no matter what happened to us health-wise, we could still join the Carol Woods Community. Being EA also gave us the chance to participate in CW activities and committees. We started going to Circuit Training at the Fitness Center, and Beth joined the Flower Committee. Both activities were avenues for meeting other residents and becoming comfortable with the idea of transitioning to a CCRC. Over and over we heard residents say that, if anything, they wished they had moved sooner. Increasingly, this logic made sense to us. Of course we wanted an established network of friends who would age alongside us…who wouldn’t!?

Becoming EA residents also brought home the reality that we would, indeed, be moving sometime in the relatively near future. So let the downsizing begin! Considering the amount of physical and emotional energy needed to “purge,” we were grateful that we had 18 months to accomplish it. The process of downsizing helped us prepare ourselves for the upcoming transition. We let Gretchen know that we weren’t going to hold out for our first choice cottage, and that we were interested in other options. And how fortuitous that was. We love our townhome in Coventry! Because our unit had not been redone in a number of years, we were able to make selections as renovations progressed that make it truly feel like home. We moved in on July 8, so our six-month anniversary has just happened. As we write this, we’re looking out onto a peaceful and lovely winter wonderland following an overnight snowfall. Best part?  We don’t have to worry about being able to walk down our snowy driveway, or get out of our unplowed neighborhood street, or make meals. Thank you, Carol Woods!

Beth S. and Paul P.

Moving Day is Just Weeks Away

In 2014, I had been on the Priority List for over four years.  I hoped for a one-bedroom cottage with den, and the wait time could take a while—but, oh my, suppose my health status deteriorated in the interim and I no longer qualified for admission?  I’m risk-averse, so I decided to apply for Early Acceptance, which offered other benefits besides peace of mind. 

I’d known for a long time that Carol Woods would be my first choice if and when I needed a secure and comfortable home later in life.  My husband and I often drove over from Knoxville in the 1980s to visit our son, a student at UNC, and we’d make time for a detour on a certain quiet, wooded country road to see a dear friend living in a fairly new community called Carol Woods.  She was so happy here!  So after my husband died in 2004 and I retired in 2010, I came over for another look at Chapel Hill and found Carol Woods to be just as I’d remembered it (much bigger, of course), so I put down my deposit.  My two sons live in San Francisco and Texas, too far away for me to resettle there and, anyway I wanted to live in the East in order to be just a few hours from family and long-time friends in Scotland.  (My roots are still deeper there than anywhere else.)  It made sense to go ahead andmove to Chapel Hill right away while waiting for a place.

The EA process was straightforward and similar to the one all would-be residents undergo in time. After I was accepted, my life soon changed in a variety of pleasant ways.  First, my car learned the five-mile route from my house to the campus and now does it virtually unaided. I joined several interest groups and classes, attended cultural and other events (for free!), used nearly all the facilities and, best of all, made many new friends and felt at home. 

Time marches on, and the next step is about to happen.  If all goes well, my last “flitting” (the Scots word for moving house) will take place in early March when I move into my new home in the Lower Loop.  I’m ready! 

Margaret K.

The Best of Both Worlds

We had always intended to move to Carol Woods; the only question was when.  We joined the Carol Woods Early Acceptance program because we were afraid that an unexpected illness might make us ineligible before we rose to the top of the waiting list or before we were ready to move.

We had been on the waiting list for four years and expected to be on it for about ten years before we qualified for a cottage of our choice.  And even if we had been at the top of the list, we were not ready to leave our beloved home and the English garden that Kitty had cultivated for more than 25 years.

So the Early Acceptance program was the solution to our problem.  We could continue to stay in our home and still not have to rely on our children, who led busy lives far away, to take care of us if we became ill.  And we can choose a time when it suits us to move to Carol Woods once we are eligible for a cottage.

We are very pleased with the program.  Brad and Sindy B.were our mentors and both were wonderful in introducing us to Carol Woods.  They often invited us to dine with them, and those dinners were opportunities for them to introduce us to many residents.  It is not as easy to participate in campus activities as it would be if we lived, on campus, but we have attended most of the very excellent Wednesday evening concerts.  Kitty serves on the Landscaping and Grounds Committee, which coincides with her interest in gardening, and has participated in art classes and other art activities.  And Don intends to resume his visits to the fine gym, once he gets on with his New Year’s resolutions.

Don L. and Kitty T.

Early Acceptance Is Working Out!

We came to Carol Woods as Early Acceptance residents in June of 2015.  We had been on the waiting list for some time (maybe 5 or 6 years at that point), and when Gretchen said something like, “...we have two more Early Acceptance slots available before we are filled, but you have to move to within a certain radius of Chapel Hill to be eligible....”, we decided that it was time to act!

And act we did, leaving the Chesapeake Bay after 25 years in that glorious water world.  Aside from some moments of  yearning, we have not looked back.  We knew no one at Carol Woods except Nancy and Hank Elkins and Lynn has a cousin in St. Pauls, NC. With the exception of one or two others in the Triangle, we were literally fish out of water (ahem!).

Part of our decision related, of course, to a “peace of mind” issue about a future need for care in the absence of children or family, but we decided that, primarily, Carol Woods would be our introduction to a new “family” in Chapel Hill and it was.  We had been living for a short time in a small rental in Meadowmont (where everyone was a stranger), when I came to Carol Woods for a quiet lunch with a wonderful person who declared after lunch, “I will be your new best friend.”  Her same generosity and warmth has now broadened to welcomes by many others as we begin to participate in book groups, concerts, lectures, fitness classes, rose trimming, swimming, movie viewing, sherry sipping and so many more activities and experiences.

Jeff has found a home for his interest in woodworking, gardening, painting, and otherwise exploring the world of the arts and ideas.  And we still need to get to know Chapel Hill as we determine when well be the best time to move to campus.  We are building a house on Bolin Creek and plan to be there for a few years.  But when we do move to Carol Woods, we know we will have a gaggle of friends we can rely on for support and to whom we can offer the same.  We visualize that adjustment will be easier because of Early Acceptance.  

So, Early Acceptance has really worked out for us. We are grateful for the welcome from all of you and look forward to learning more about this area we now call home because you are so willing and open to share the world you know so well with us.   

Jeff and Lynn L.