Sima Lesser says: … it was easy for me to decide to move. I felt that it was a good idea to move before we had to move, in other words, finding a community that would be wonderful for us for the next chapter of life… And the other thing is, we did not want our kids to make the decision although we love them and we think they’re very bright and wonderful. We wanted to make the decision on our own and on our own time.
Erwin and Sima Lesser Interview, March 2014
Interview starts at 5:11
J: Good afternoon, hi there.
E: Hello, is either Ines or Ryan available?
J: Yes, you have Ines and Jill. I’m here to conduct the few quick questions on life and decisions and we thank you so much for joining us and who is this? Do we have two people on the line or just yourself?
E: The two of us are on the line.
J: Oh beautiful, oh great. Thank you so much and thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We’re really learning a lot about really the process that folks go through when you know you kind of get that glimmer of light, like well, “maybe I should consider moving” and “how do I go about this?” and “how do I make this decision?” So, we really appreciate your insight. So thank you in advance, I just have a few questions but mostly we’d just like to hear the story of how that process went for you, you know was it difficult to decide to move? And how did that unfold for you?
S: Well, it was easy for me to decide to move. I felt that it was a good idea to move before we had to move, in other words, finding a community that would be wonderful for us for the next chapter of life.
J: Beautiful and then you can actually enjoy it while you are there too.
S: Erv was not as eager to move as I was. I’m not sure why.
E: Well, we had a lovely home and nice neighborhood before and I wasn’t really aware of the way Sim was thinking, she wanted to be in a place where if something happened to me…
S: Or to me.
E: the other one would have it a little easier to handle.
J: That’s thoughtful.
S: And the other thing is, we did not want our kids to make the decision although we love them and we think they’re very bright and wonderful. We wanted to make the decision on our own and on our own time.
J: Great, that’s good advice to anyone as well. That makes good sense.
S: We came to a luncheon here for the marketing people at The Fountains. We heard a statement that really tickled me and that was “the answer is yes, now what is your question.” Now that’s critical to me that there is a lot of flexibility and that has been very true. Something else that really got us was the friendliness of the people in the room, other people who were looking as we were and also the staff. The staff is just incredibly wonderful and so are the people and the more we meet new people the more we realize that there are some extraordinarily bright people here who have led very very interesting lives and it’s interesting for us to meet them.
J: Well, that makes life more variety and spice of life and they’re just a few steps from your door, you don’t have to go out and drive to visit them or meet them and that’s smart.
S: That’s right.
J: Now you mentioned that you have kids, how do they feel? Do they feel sorry that you’re not in the old house; are they glad that you’ve got this new life?
E: They’ve been here to visit; they’re extremely pleased at the move we made.
J: Oh good.
E: They didn’t have to do it for us and they really like this place, in fact in a few weeks Sim is having her birthday and two of our children will be staying here in the guestrooms here.
J: Oh, no kidding, perfect, well that works well.
S: I’m not allowed to cook.
J: That’s great.
S: One of the other things that really got us was I’m still in the age where I’m enjoying cooking and enjoying baking and we found out that The Fountains is one of the few places that allows for flexibility so we’re not on the meal plan right now, we can go on the meal plan when we, if and when we decide but that allowed us to feel more independent and that’s what we like about The Fountains, we are feeling independent.
J: Interesting, yeah well choice is what makes life great, isn’t it.
E: It sure is.
J: Do a lot of places require that you have their meal plan?
E: Oh yes.
J: Oh, do they? Well, that’s not very flexible.
S: It is recent that The Fountains put that into effect and we really appreciate it.
J: Oh great, oh that’s great.
E: Sim is a great cook and a great baker.
J: Oh wonderful.
E: And I just love what she does. Once in a while we do eat here in the dining room.
J: Sure, when you want to.
E: And it’s very nice.
J: Well, that’s great.
S: People are wonderful.
J: And then maybe you go down because it’s a party atmosphere and maybe another resident’s got a birthday or something like that, you’ve got a good reason to go and take a break but yeah, you’ve got to do what you love and if that’s cooking that’s great.
E: Exactly, you’ve got it exactly right.
S: Something else that happened to us I think the first time we were here we met a person who was a marketing person for Senior Moves and he had the opportunity to go into just about every senior retirement facility in the Sarasota area, he decided that this was the place for him and his wife because of the family.
J: Well, I’ll be darned.
S: There is a family feeling and that’s rare.
J: Well, that’s wonderful because a lot of people are singles too you know and they need that even a little bit more than you two do.
E: That’s true, that’s true.
J: That’s great, now so did you look at a lot of places? How did you find the right place?
E: We looked at about three or four other places.
J: How many?
E: This is clearly the most friendly, the most reasonable in price.
E: I mean it’s expensive, but it is the most reasonable.
E: For all that we have here so this was it.
J: Oh wonderful, how many places did you say you looked at?
E: Three or four.
J: And they were all in the area?
E: They’re plenty here.
J: Yeah, I imagine with Sarasota being such a lovely place to retire at any age I’m not surprised. Had you lived in Sarasota for a while before you moved to The Fountains?
E: We lived in Sarasota for eleven years before we moved here. We lived in Miami for forty-five years before we moved.
J: Oh, you did?
J: I love Miami and Sarasota and then so I’m sorry, how many years were you in Sarasota?
J: Ok so you had already maybe done a little bit of downsizing not terribly long ago.
E: Right, we had a very large house in Miami and the one in Sarasota was a little more than half the size and the apartment that we have now is not much smaller than the house that we had.
S: Which makes life very easy.
J: Oh, no kidding.
J: Yeah, oh that’s great.
E: Our current apartment is two bedrooms, two and a half baths.
J: Oh, ok.
E: It’s really nice.
J: Oh, great.
E: Huge kitchen.
J: Well, you need that. If that’s your passion then that’s something that you definitely want to have.
S: And we have a dog by the way and he’s very happy here.
J: What’s his name? What kind of dog is he?
E: His name is Prince; he’s a border collie mix.
J: Oh, I love border collies.
E: He is so smart, he’s pretty old, he’s over fourteen now.
J: Oh, is he?
E: But he looks good, I mean he’s still very healthy and when I take him for walks everyday he helps me meet other people and it’s very nice.
J: Oh I bet, oh I bet. Oh Prince, such a cute name. That’s just wonderful. Yeah, they really do make life great.
E: Yes they do.
S: They really do.
J: What did you want to name him?
E: Sim wanted to name him King but I told her I was the King, but he’s my son.
S: And I’m the queen of course.
E: The son of a King is a Prince.
J: That’s perfect, oh that’s great.
S: We want you to know is the people here, the staff here made our move so much easier than we would have had anticipated, they were just as helpful as can be including people who came in and helped us arrange our artwork, it was beyond what we really had anticipated and that’s really a wonderful feeling.
J: That’s great, yeah, a smooth transition is really important and you really want it to all come together nicely and feel like home.
E: Exactly, it felt like home almost right away.
J: Oh really?
E: The woman, Maria, who helped us find the place, she’s on the staff here, when we moved in she brought us food, enough food for two dinners and also a couple dinners for the dog. I mean it was just wonderful.
J: That’s darling. That’s really thoughtful.
S: We have not met anybody on staff that has not been outstanding from the time we came here, the first time we met the head security guy who is absolutely a delight and that kind of feeling is pervasive in the entire place which is really I think a rare thing.
J: That’s wonderful. Yeah, it’s the people that make a place.
E: Right, exactly.
J: Wonderful, so ok, let me see here, so you didn’t really feel tortured about “oh, should we move, should we not move?” Did someone inspire you or?
E: We were going to move, the question was where and this was clearly the place. There was no question about it.
S: We had friends who had already moved here and they moved at the same time for the same kind of reason before they needed to move. And watching them come here and be very happy it really made us look very seriously at this place.
J: Great, oh that’s great, yeah, it’s nice to have some good examples out there and you probably know a lot of people who maybe ought to be looking. It seems like a lot of people take way too much time and then they’re stuck with a forced situation or you know maybe like you said their kids would have to make the decision and that just makes it hard. And you guys just never had that reluctance?
E: No, not at all.
J: You just were generally proactive and felt you were ready to plan for your future.
E: Well, we had been in this couples apartment and it was a beautiful apartment and had this gorgeous view of the lake and all that I thought “gee, this is beautiful, we’ll never get anything as nice as that” but our apartment easily is as nice as theirs, our view is nowhere near as nice as theirs but the apartment itself is easily as nice as theirs.
J: Oh great.
E: We’re very happy with it.
J: Oh, that’s great. That’s wonderful, so you’re happy, the kids are happy, they like it there, they feel good because they don’t have to worry at all.
J: Did you hear that kind of message from them; did they just cheer you on along the way?
E: Oh yes, actually they are all going to be here in a couple of weeks to celebrate her birthday.
J: That’s so great, yeah I love that.
S: We didn’t tell them too much in advance that we were going to move, we just did it and they were so happy that we did it on own speed and our own time without any crisis involved.
J: That’s great. Yeah, that’s good advice, definitely.
S: There is so much to do here, the activities here are just incredible, I recently joined the activities committee and I am amazed at everything that is going on here.
J: No kidding?
J: Like there’s exercise and cultural and art and music, what kind of things are there?
S: You name it, we’re doing it.
J: No kidding, I was just going to ask you one of my questions is “what different programs are you involved with in the community” and sounds like you’re involved with making the programs themselves come together.
E: Right, well, we’ve been going to some lectures every Friday. I’ll be teaching origami again after these lectures are finished and Sima’s in a book club and the activities committee and whatever else we feel like doing when it comes up.
S: We’re too much involved culture in Sarasota and it is really amazing and relatively low price affairs and the nice thing is there are groups here that attend these various functions and so we have sociability in addition to enjoying the culture.
J: Oh, that’s perfect and exercise, do you take part in any of those classes or clubs? Or you walk the grounds?
E: I’ve started but I’ve not been well recently and so as soon as I start feeling better I’m going to go back to the exercise.
J: Perfect, it’s nice to not have to drive to a gym.
E: Now there’s a really great gym here with some good machines.
S: They have different exercise programs that they run, there’s yoga.
E: Tai chi.
S: Tai chi, you name it as I said before you name the activity we have it.
J: That’s awesome.
S: And if you think of something we don’t have I’ll bet you they would allow us to start.
J: That’s great. That’s what the community is all about, right?
J: I was going to ask you, it sounds like you’ve kind of already told me but how is life different now than it was in your previous home? How would you say your life has changed?
S: [inaudible] the air conditioning working or the dishwasher breaking down it’s just something The Fountains will take care of. It’s a very nice feeling.
J: Yeah, home ownership has its to-do list, doesn’t it?
S: They are taking such good care of this facility that it’s constantly amazing to us.
J: No kidding.
J: Well, that’s terrific and that’s off your to-do list, you can have more fun and spend more time with Prince and bake and cook and do everything except for calling repair people trying to fix things yourself. Well, that’s great; well let me think if I have any more questions. You guys have been really helpful and I appreciate it, you know everybody’s got a different perspective of how it happened for them and how they made that decision.
S: It’s true.
J: Let’s see, well, I guess just in general do you have like any general advice that you would give to the world out there, how they might go about choosing their best path, whether that’s Fountains or not.
E: Start the search before you have to start the search.
S: Excellent idea and when you go into the place don’t look at just the facility, look and try to interact with the people.
E: And especially with the other residents.
S: The people are really what is important.
J: Great, well, that’s solid advice, anything else?
E: I can’t think of anything else.
J: Ok, well, that’s wonderful. Yeah I can’t imagine, you know, anybody not benefitting from that because it really is about the people and there’s no time that’s too soon to start learning, you know, you don’t have to move tomorrow but knowledge is power.
J: That’s great. Well, thank you both so much I really, I really again, we both thank you and appreciate your time and hope you have a wonderful rest of the day and rest of the week and thanks for sharing.
E: Thank you, we hope you have a wonderful day also.
S: Thank you.
J: Oh, thank you, thank you both, bye-bye.