Frank Infanger says: I tell you there is nothing wrong here. Everything is gorgeous. The plantings are lovely, the food is delicious, we don’t even, my wife doesn’t cook anymore. I mean, we’re now retired, I’ve been actually not working at a job since I was sixty so it’s been twenty-seven years and now I feel I’m retired. We don’t do anything.
Frank and Del Infanger Interview, March 2014
D: Del (Delores)
Interview starts at 6:01
J: Good afternoon, hello!
F: Hi, this is Frank Infanger calling from The Fountains in Sarasota, Florida.
J: Well, hi there, this is Jill Hofer at Watermark Retirement Communities in Tucson, Arizona.
J: And I’m here with my coworker, Ines Newby, she’s on the call today too.
I: Hi, how are you?
F: Good, hi.
J: Oh great. We really, really appreciate your time. We’re looking to learn more about the process that people go through when they make that decision, you know, “Should I move to a retirement community, should I stay in my old house?”We’re really just trying to gain insight as to how that unfolds for people and their families. It seems like everybody is a little bit different and any perspective that you have will be very helpful for us so thanks again in advance.
F: Ok, do you want me to start?
J: Well, yeah, sure, go ahead and just kind of tell us how it went for you.
F: Actually, we got told, we had two houses, I was originally maintaining both of them, did all the work, we did wallpaper, upholstery, everything and then as we got older, we could do less and then I hired a lot of people to help, you know, with that but it got tiring. I’m eighty-seven and my wife is eighty-six. So we thought that we really needed to get into senior housing. We call it senior housing and the culture today is to keep you in that rather than assisted living. So, we had been checking here in Sarasota, our doctors are here, we’ve been here twenty-seven years and we’ve had these doctors and we didn’t want to leave Sarasota, so we didn’t look in Bradenton, we didn’t go down to Fort Myers and we’ve been looking here and the summer my sister, well, I was thinking of coming in probably the first of the year, last year. We’ve been here six months and my sister called from here that there were two units available, one had, you know both of them had lake views, I mean beautiful fountain and lake views. They took one and we took the other, sight unseen I sent a thirty thousand dollar check.
F: People like that.
J: No kidding. Yes, I think so; you’re an easy decision maker.
F: Well, I relied on what she thought, what she said.
J: Actually we spoke with her a couple of days ago, she said.
F: That’s right, I just talked to her and she told me. I had written about two pages of thoughts, how great everything was, but well on the other hand she said that you would be interviewing me.
J: Well, that’s great of you to prepare in advance so when we do want to hear anything you’ve got to say.
F: Please, I tell you there is nothing wrong here. Everything is gorgeous. The plantings are lovely, the food is delicious, we don’t even, my wife doesn’t cook anymore. I mean, we’re now retired, I’ve been actually not working at a job since I was sixty so it’s been twenty-seven years and now I feel I’m retired. We don’t do anything.
J: Wow, that’s great.
F: I say The Fountains does everything but change my personal light bulbs and we don’t burn those so we don’t have to worry about that either. I like the fact that they serve all that wine, in the lounge and so on. It makes the happiness, everybody, in other words, everybody as you walk through the halls they say hello, all the employees as well as the residents, I mean everybody is pleasant. I mean, some people are a little less pleasant but nonetheless, everybody is kind of putting a little cheer on when they say hello.
J: Oh, that’s fantastic.
F: You’ve got the rhythm going, it’s a really happy place and I can’t tell you that it’s, and then you’ve got the no tipping, people get fired because of that and then you just have that gift fund at the end of the year which is fine.
J: Yeah, I think that’s a lot better, don’t you?
F: Oh, I think it’s perfect and then you don’t have a cash bar. That’s very important. If you’re going to entertain friends now we’ve got those liquor lockers down there, I don’t even drink I had to give it up about fifteen years ago because my heart was fluttering and one thing or another and but I think it’s just a tremendous thing for all the residents with wine three nights a week you know and this lounge with hors d’oeuvres and then you have the liquor locker if you want to serve yourself some stronger liquor and then on Saturday they serve wine in the dining room. And the dining room has all kinds of, I mean the continental breakfast is fine in the morning, I think it’s very adequate, we don’t eat lunch and then dinner at five o’clock you have just an enormous menu. I mean the entrees, there’s probably ten entrees, ten ways you can go on just the entrees, then there’s the salads and the soups and the desserts. I counted there were ten of those.
F: Yeah, in other words, there’s yogurt, there’s ice cream, sometimes a cake, maybe an apple pie or something other but there are ten items listed, yeah.
J: Well, I’ll be darned.
F: Sherbet. Oh yeah, they’ve got a beautiful rhythm here and the plantings are exquisite you know. They are about twenty-eight years old or something and they keep them perfectly trimmed. They spread three thousand bags of mulch and they do it twice a year. Fourteen guys were spreading it for a couple of days.
J: Well, I’ll be darned; I’ll bet you don’t miss doing that when you see those guys doing all that work.
F: That’s what I say, I used to do all, I like to say to people “there’s a lot of things I used to do”. And that house maintenance and everything was quite a project. They were both completely furnished just like the one down here we bought in 1987 and the other one we bought in 1986 and so, oh yeah, improved them and retiled, yeah. And when I retired actually I had to work eighteen months on the houses in order to get them up to my speed.
J: No kidding. You weren’t exactly retired then, were you?
F: No and then until recently when I gave up cutting bushes because I was falling over and I had a tendency to fall over and I had to do something different and I lost all my stamina. I used to be able to go out before breakfast, three hours before breakfast and work on the trees and the bushes and the lawn and everything, I can’t go out forty minutes and I’m exhausted.
J: Oh yeah?
F: Yeah. I’m actually healthy, I still drive but, nonetheless, the fact now, when I finally hired the last tree trimmer or something I said to my wife “I’m retired.” She says “You’ve been retired twenty-five years.” But now we are retired.
J: Now it’s the real, yeah.
F: I told her not to cook. We don’t cook.
F: And the liquor is in the kitchen, brand new kitchen which is gorgeous and we have some snacks that’s all.
J: Nice. And that you know what the good days are made of.
F: Oh yeah, it’s wonderful that we moved in here.
J: Oh, I’m so glad. I do love that your sister is so close although according to her everybody already treats you like friends and family anyway so.
F: Yes, oh yes, she lived eleven houses away for twenty-five years and was generally within an hour or something when we were up north where we used to live and so we used to see her on Sundays, in other words we got together and reviewed the week and in order to keep everything orderly they had their friends and we had ours that kept it very harmonious.
J: Nice, that’s terrific. Now, you said you lived in the The Fountains for about six months?
F: That’s all, we moved in on October first when my wife was eighty-six that day.
J: Oh, you’re kidding, you moved in on her birthday?
F: On her birthday and we went out at dinner for her birthday the first day.
J: Oh, that’s wonderful.
J: Oh, I love that and then how long were you in your home previous before you moved?
F: We were on Siesta Key in Sarasota out by the water since 1987, for twenty-seven years.
J: Long time.
F: Yep, and then of course Rhode Island we go up for four months, we’d stay up there for four months and matter-of-fact that’s still for sale but I have enough wherewithal that we’re not going to die but it was a cesspool, fifty years old and didn’t have any troubles but the state said I had to put in a septic system. I hired a consulting engineer and then an installer, it cost thirty thousand dollars.
J: Oh my goodness.
F: And by the time it was finished it was snowing so we sodded the whole place so it’s gorgeous, we’ve changed realtors, we had the wrong realtor, it’s ready to move. I mean it’s right on the beach, the snow has to melt.
J: Oh that’s great, and you’re right, people just aren’t thinking about it just yet.
F: No, but they will but this guy is going to advertise it, give it a push. Got a four hundred square foot porch on it
J: Oh my, that sounds great.
F: Thirty two windows on the water.
J: Oh my goodness, yeah, you’re not going to have that for long, that’s terrific.
F: No, it will move. There’s no comparables in that range.
J: Interesting, well, somebody who wants a very special home will snap that up.
F: Oh yeah, no no no, it will go now.
J: Oh, that’s great.
F: We’ve got Joseph buried in the yard.
J: I do that too, I do the same thing and then I pull him right back out too, I keep him up on this side of the ground.
F: So, you have any other questions?
J: Yeah sure, do you have kids? Were they involved in this decision?
F: No, they weren’t involved. I guess we may have been telling them we were looking but no they weren’t. We decided for ourselves.
J: How do they feel about your choice?
F: There’s five of them, there’s four boys and a girl and when the fourth boy was born the oldest was six.
J: Oh my gosh, that’s how my sister was too.
F: My wife stayed home and did nothing.
J: Right, right.
F: She will get me after I hang up.
J: That’s right yeah, no kidding. I was going to ask you, do they have an opinion now are they thinking they’re “oh we’re so glad”?
F: Oh, they’re thrilled.
J: Oh good, what do they think about it?
F: It’s good. The youngest son bought the house in Sarasota and that’ll be nice because he will be down here in a few years retired and he said when we were going to move get something big so they can come to visit and he and his four children came, the six of them and we slept them right in our unit.
J: No kidding?
F: Yeah, we have a sleep sofa, we’re going to get another one when that Rhode Island sells, we’re half furnished really because we don’t have a dining room table or anything, of course we’re not dining here but at any rate the sleep sofa is in the second bedroom with a bath and then there was a living room sofa that slept one of the girls and then we got three single blow up mattresses, air mattresses.
J: Well, you just had a family reunion right there in your residence.
F: That’s nothing, the place in Rhode Island is actually only about, oh I don’t know, fifteen hundred square feet and we had family reunions there and last August before we you know came down to Florida, nineteen of us were in there, three bedroom, three bedroom.
J: Oh, that’s great, how much fun. Oh, those kids will never forget that.
F: Oh, no. They are very happy and as I say, the one that came down wanted us to have something where we could entertain and we have no problem.
J: Oh, that’s great, so are they relived, I mean do they worry less about you?
F: We’ve always been independent of them and carried our own weight and we have helped them from time to time and they’re very happy about it.
J: Oh, that’s super. Ok, alright, now let me look here. Now a lot of people and these are the people we’re really trying to understand, these people who are on-the-fence, you know they’re wavering, they’re rattling around in the old place, they’re probably not as independent as you were but yet they just are afraid to make a move, they’re kind of just frozen you know? You were not like that and neither was your sister. You guys were very proactive.
F: You have a lot of possession and nobody really wants to buy then. That gives you some heartbreak you know, because we had to scale down from something like five thousand square feet into fifteen hundred. So that, you get rid of all kinds of stuff and some of it went to auction, it didn’t bring much and then we gave a lot away, a lot of things that we had for years and years and years. That was tough.
J: I bet. I bet. I guess that is one of the things that’s keeping people stuck. I mean, if you thought about it what kind of advice would you have and with this question I’m not really saying “oh wow, everyone should move into The Fountains, everyone should come straight here” but just more like in general, what kind of advice would you give people to just kind of open their eyes to the new possibilities that might be out there?
F: Well I think that at some point in life you should be retired and while you’re maintaining a house or houses and all that business you’re not retired and if you’re going to be retired then you should get into an environment where you can actually enjoy that.
J: That’s great.
F: And the fact is, we’re saving a lot of money too, I mean we had two taxes and two this, that and everything. I mean, we’re actually saving a lot of money.
J: Isn’t that interesting, people probably really don’t think about it from that angle.
F: Well, a lot of people don’t know what they’re spending on.
J: You mean like all the…?
F: They don’t realize where all the, everybody spends all their money and some people, a lot of people have no idea where it goes. They will claim that they do but if they kept track it’s pretty amazing for them.
J: Right, like you mentioned taxes for one.
F: Oh yeah, well taxes are, each house had about fifty-five hundred dollar tax. And the one down here had a flood policy that cost about fifteen hundred dollars, it had a wind policy that was sixteen hundred dollars and hurricane policy, then the actual house policy was something like a thousand dollars.
J: No kidding.
F: No and then the Rhode Island place because of the location the flood policy there was about eight-fifty. And then the insurance was about a thousand dollars and I mean we carry, you know, big policies but as big a deduction (deductible) as we can get.
J: Right, right. And then there’s food, you know.
F: Oh, food, and then you’re always fussing with something, you’re planting a tree or you’re doing something. And we had not bought any furniture for fifty years. So we came in here and we left some furniture behind because it’s a different environment and we bought some things but that was a new experience really. Now we also had a second time to have a brand new home. We’ve had seven homes and this is the second one that was actually brand new, it’s brand new.
J: Wow that feels good.
F: Oh, it’s gorgeous.
J: That’s nice.
F: And we haven’t had the stove on, I guess she said she boiled three eggs that were left over when she was going to have eggs benedict but she’s not cooking anymore so I said hard boil them, we’ll eat them. The microwave hasn’t worked, we haven’t put that on. We just ran the dishwasher for the first time.
J: In six months?
F: Yeah. Well, I wash the dishes. When I retired I thought I ought to do my share so she kept cooking and we decided what we were going to eat and then when the meal was over she would put the food away that was left over and I had to do all the rest of it, pots, pans, dishes, all that business.
J: Good man, that’s nice.
F: And so here what we’ve done, we have very few plates because they haven’t come down from Rhode Island but at any rate if something needs washing I just wash it but then we did have a load of glasses and so we did finally run the dishwasher. We’ve got a beautiful laundry too.
J: Oh, that’s wonderful. That’s convenient.
F: We had them put a set tub in there and there’s also an ironing board that comes out of the wall.
J: That’s handy.
F: And there’s a big closet, when we asked then when we wanted to move in, I said “I want closets, I mean shelves, everything have shelves, shelves, shelves, shelves” and in addition we had the Amish build a couple of bookcases that were four feet wide and six feet high and those they’re oak, solid oak. They worked. Everything is put away.
J: That’s beautiful, uncluttered lifestyle.
F: Oh yeah, that’s right because we had to get rid of stuff, I mean, you couldn’t bring everything.
J: No, not really.
F: We got rid of a desk, we got rid of a dining room table and five Chippendale chairs and all kinds of stuff.
J: But it’s a new chapter.
F: Yep, yep, and actually as people realize how friendly, these people have been in here ten years a lot of them and I estimate that they have had their lives extended at least five years.
J: That’s fantastic.
F: Yep, the average age is eighty-eight. The oldest guy is ninety-seven, he lives across the hall and I like to kid with him, he was a lawyer mainly in the government, he’s a very fine individual and I was kidding with him the other day, I said “look Herb, you’re a great guy, act your age.” Ninety-seven! The lady that was oldest, she broke a leg and she’s over in the nursing home but she’s a hundred and four.
J: Oh, I’ll be darned.
F: Was here twenty-years.
J: You always hear when you hear advice how you’ve got to live to be as old as you can and it comes down to the things that are there at the community, you know.
F: Yep, and I think that it extends your life if that’s what people want to do. And actually relax, when you don’t have to do anything you can be pretty relaxed.
J: Right, and not to mention, good food, you know and friends.
F: Oh and the good thing about that food you can have partial this and partial that. You don’t have to take a whole baked potato, you can have a half. I ordered four lima beans the other day and they brought them. Now that was silly, I did that deliberately. Now, they will do anything you want.
J: Oh, I love it.
F: The dining room, oh yeah, all these vegetables and you’ll say I’ll have a half order of beans, string beans, or I’ll have you know a mushroom order, half order of mushrooms or you can have the hamburger, see on the right side you can have an omelette you can have a hamburger, you can have salmon or you can have a salad over there and that’s on the side of the menu, that’s every day and then there’s the main courses which are fish, and meat, chicken, one thing or another, about four or five of those on the main part.
J: Wow, no loss for variety there.
J: Do you dine with your sister?
F: What’s that?
J: Do you dine with your sister?
F: We have been casually dining with her but she said what we ought to do is dine weekly which is something like we were visiting weekly after Catholic mass on Sunday.
J: So you kept up your old traditions with her but now in a new place?
F: Oh yeah, we’ve been dining with her more regularly.
J: Nice, that’s great. Do you take part in any of the programs in the community like classes or clubs or exercise programs?
F: Well, we have done exercise because as I say I’ve been falling over a little bit and I don’t want to do that anymore and so we did that and then we don’t play bridge, we played bridge for sixty years that’s something we don’t do anymore. But then we’ve just been kind of moving in, doing things, you know. My wife says she would like to say something.
J: Oh good.
F: She’s going to add her two cents now.
D: As you can hear he’s the big talker in the family.
J: Well, we are having a pretty fun interview I’ll give you that.
D: I wanted to mention a couple things, he’s of Swiss descent, his parents and his grandparents, he goes back quite a while into Switzerland and what reminds us, we’ve been over to Switzerland several times in Lucerne they have a covered bridge and these are smaller imitations of the bridge in Lucerne, here at The Fountains, in fact we have two bridges and the other day it was raining. We’ve had quite a bit of rain recently here and I was walking along and I can walk over two bridges and not get wet if it’s raining or if it’s too much sun. I kind of run away from the sun because I’ve had a lot of things taken off my arms and legs because of being in the sun too much and so it’s good to just have the covering and it’s very attractive it’s very nicely done those two bridges are terrific. Oh, and Frank was talking about his sister, we’ve been fairly close to them over the years, they have five children and we have five children.
D: And we’ve always and I say lived very close so the kids have all been really close and so their kids are coming down, they’ve got a couple coming down in about a week and we have one coming down on Tuesday I guess it is and we all interchange and the kids are good friends.
J: That’s great. So it’s all still the family event.
D: Yes, yes indeed and I, we’ve been doing things, we’ve been going to they have an exercise class in the morning and we’ve been going to that and exercise machines and I’ve been going for therapy. I’ve kind of gotten to a bad habit of bent over and we checked it with the doctor and the therapist Julie is very very good and she’s got me standing up and I have good thoughts being able to stand up and look a lot better.
D: I’ve been doing as she says and so that’s kind of an extra bonus.
J: Oh, that’s very good.
D: Yes, so that’s all good and there’s a lot going on. We’ve gone out for plays and they have some here and they have a lot, Frank says they have parties all the time. It’s kind of nice, well good talking to you; Frank has a few more words to say.
J: Ok, likewise, thank you.
D: Oh, thank you.
F: They have parties all the time, they get out the mimosas, well, once a month we have a buffet lunch it is in lieu of dinner and they have mimosas there and then they also put on champagne and an art exhibit they wanted to populate and then we’ve got “An Evening in Paris” coming up on Wednesday, next Wednesday and that’s going to be a special dinner with nicoise salad, that’s fresh tuna and liver pate and onion soup and then what is the main course, I can’t remember. They have offered a special on a lobster dinner, of course we’ve been eating lobster because of the northern thing, we’ve been doing that for years but they have all these special dinners and they had a cook out at the beach where they offered oysters and clams and other things and then they had a roasted pig too. I thought it would be the Geico pig, but it wasn’t it was only forth pounds and they grilled that and that was delicious.
J: You guys are having enough fun; I can’t believe what a great decision you made.
F: Oh yeah and actually it was the right thing to do because of our age.
J: Well, and not a moment too late either now you can really enjoy that retirement like you said you weren’t really retired before.
F: I wasn’t, no, but I am now though. I don’t even have to do dishes.
J: Nice, well, that’s wonderful. I thank you so much for your time, both of you, we really really appreciate it. It’s an extra special situation that you are there with your sister. We were particularly interested to speak with you and see how that was; it’s neato that you both chose The Fountains.
F: Well and she recommended it and I sent a check based on her recommendation.
J: That’s great and you never looked back?
F: No, no I don’t look back, I look forward.
F: Oh we had visited here so we were aware of it; we had not looked at a lot of units. But of course that four hundred square foot porch on that northern place, you know, we were used to views. If we had to look at a parking lot I would think we were on a trip because we used to look at parking lots. One time at Public House up in Massachusetts, it’s an ancient place and we used to take low cost rooms and it had no windows and actually it all these heat ducts and stuff running through the room.
J: That’s not very scenic.
F: That’s the way we used to live. We feel very privileged that we can afford this too.
J: And like you said it’s surprising what you’re not paying for now that you’re there, it’s a really big point that we can make because people just assume you know that it’s all new costs but really a lot of those old costs are going away.
F: Well, you take the monthly cost for the two of us is four thousand seventy dollars now two months of that we saved just in property tax, we saved another one in insurance so there’s three months and it doesn’t cost us anything.
J: Wow, that’s a great way to look at it.
F: We’re not cutting lawns and hiring a lot of help which we did on lawn bugs and roof repairs, one day in Florida we spent eleven thousand dollars on our roof.
F: See and we don’t have those. So I’d say maybe if we added it up it’d be and there’s no food we’re not buying any food. We’re not carting food either and my wife here with her arms and everything she can’t lift too much and she doesn’t have to do that because she doesn’t have to reach up.
F: It really is dramatic, the opportunity to live.
J: That’s wonderful, well goodness, thank you so much, you really made my day. I loved this interview and thank your wife and really we do appreciate it, you’ve helped a lot and I’ve got a whole new insight on a couple of different angles here.
J: Oh, yes. Thank you and enjoy the next party.
F: Thank you.
J: And the one after that.
F: Oh yeah, they’re all the time.
J: Alright, see you two soon I hope, bye-bye.