Pat Beggan says: You know what’s nice about [living] here? Everyone is happy. Everybody is up. You walk into our dining room and you hear people laughing. That feeling of camaraderie and spirit – it’s fun to live here! Not only are the residents wonderful people, but all the service people are wonderful. I mean the drivers of the buses, the concierge, the service people in the dining room – I can’t say enough about everybody. They really are wonderful.
Pat Beggan Interview, November 2012
PB: Pat Beggan
J: Jill Hofer
I: Ines Newby
PB: Hello, my name is Pat Beggan and I’m calling from Sarasota, Florida, The Fountains.
J: Hi Mrs. Beggan, it’s so nice to speak with you. I’m Jill Hofor –
PB: Hi Jill, how are you?
J: I’m good, I’m good, and I’m here with Ines Newby also.
J: Thank you for your time; I really appreciate it.
PB: Oh that’s fine, no problem at all.
J: Ok, well we really want to kind of learn more about the situation that a lot of seniors are in. It seems like people are kind of, they’re feeling stuck and they’re just not sure what’s right for them. Should they move? Should they stay at home? And we’re just excited to learn more about how that process worked for you and then we might be able to use some of these stories maybe in a letter or on our website, not really to say “Hey everybody, you need to move to the Fountains at Lakepoint Woods,” but more just to say that everybody’s experience is different, you know? And what we want is for them to examine all their options and really think about what choices they have, so I really appreciate you sharing your story.
PB: Well that’s quite all right. Where are you located?
J: I personally live in Tucson, Arizona, that’s where we are right now.
PB: Well I’m familiar with the area, because we were going to retire in Sedona.
J: Oh, well that’s a beautiful choice!
PB: Yes, in fact we bought a lot. This was in 19…it was in the 80s and we had bought a lot there and then we found Naples, Florida, and so we sold the lot and retired to Naples, Florida.
J: And when was that? What year did you go to Naples?
J: Oh, OK.
PB: We were there 22 years, and then we decided it was time for us to move, because we were getting older, and our son retired to Sarasota, and this is why we picked Sarasota.
J: Well that’s a wonderful place to end up. I’m glad he didn’t take a job or retire to Idaho!
PB: It is a big step for people; it’s very traumatic, definitely, and you sort of have to make up your mind and it has to be the luck of the draw too. After we moved here, my husband passed away, a year and a half ago, and so this is why I feel that I made the right move, because the people here are so wonderful and they’ve been a big help to me.
J: Oh, that’s just wonderful to hear. That’s terrific. What year did you move to the Fountains?
PB: 2011, June 1st, 2011.
J: Can you tell me a little bit about that process? So the day comes and you decide Sarasota it is, and how did you go about choosing the retirement community once you knew you were ready to make a move?
PB: Well we did look at several. We looked at Plymouth Harbor and I can’t even think of the one that’s on the water, because we lived on the water in Naples, and then we looked at the Oaks and we looked at several out here, and the main reason why we picked the Oaks is because it has a lovely campus. We thought the campus was very pretty – not the Oaks, the Fountains, and it’s also close to our son, who lives in the Oaks.
J: Oh, I see, Ok. Well that’s really close, nearby.
PB: Yes it is, are you familiar with Sarasota?
J: I am, a little bit, we used to go in my youth, we would go to Sarasota and spend some time.
PB: Oh, would you really? Well then you do know.
J: Yes, it’s a lovely town, and I’ve visited your community, the Fountains, so I’ve been there just recently last year.
PB: Oh you were.
J: Yeah, it was great to be back. Just as pretty as I remembered.
PB: Where did you live when you went to Sarasota?
J: I’m from Ohio.
PB: Oh are you? Where?
J: Kind of near Cincinnati – if you’ve ever heard of Miami University of Ohio –
PB: I certainly have. In fact our granddaughter is thinking about, that’s one of the schools that she’s thinking about.
J: Oh, I’ll be darned!
PB: It’s a wonderful school, very good.
J: Yes, and it’s covered in ivy and you can really –
PB: Have you ever heard of Grinnell?
J: No, I haven’t. Is it also in Ohio?
PB: No, it’s in Iowa.
J: Is that where you’re from?
PB: Yes, that’s where my husband and I went. And that is the Harvard of the Midwest. You have to ask someone if they know about Grinnell – the Academia usually does.
J: Oh, ok. I’ll remember that – we have some communities in Iowa, so I’ll have to ask.
PB: Ok, in fact there’re a couple of people that have been to Grinnell, and one of them was on the administration end of Grinnell and it’s very interesting that a few of them have ties to Grinnell here.
J: Well, let me ask you another question: when, if you can think back to right before you were ready to move, what were the little things that made you think “Ok, maybe this house here in Naples isn’t our last place to live.” We want to move? What kind of steps and processes of thought did you go through at that time?
PB: Well, my husband was beginning to become ill, and I think that was the main reason. And Sarasota was the main reason because our son was retired here. Also, my grandson, my daughter’s son was here, with two great grandsons, so we’ve been very fortunate. But I do want to tell you something, as far as the marketing department goes, I won’t say that they were the reasons why I came.
J: Ok. What were the reasons why you came?
PB: Because of the proximity of the Fountains to the Oaks. And we wanted a larger apartment, but there wasn’t one available that we were told, so we took the smaller one and were told that when a larger one became available, that we would be able to take it, but they never told us that we have to put more money into it. Actually I’m very glad that we did have the smaller apartment, because it’s perfect for me now. Do you see how things work out?
J: I guess they all do work out, even when you don’t see it.
PB: But I do feel that I was a little mislead there.
J: Oh, well I’m sorry to hear that and I’m glad to know it.
PB: Well I think you should. And it’s the old – they’re all gone now. None of them are here.
J: Oh, all right. Ok. Well, when you decided –
PB: You know what I often wondered? And I’m just telling you this because it’s what other people are thinking –
J: No, please, go ahead
PB: We often wondered – there were loads available and we weren’t shown those, and we wondered if maybe – we did put 90% down – and we were wondering if maybe they showed the ones that they didn’t have to give the money back? But people have questioned that.
J: Oh, interesting. Well I’ll speak to Kevin about that and see if there’s something we can do to address that.
PB: Because people do question that.
J: Ok, ok. Well I’m glad that it worked out in this instance. I’m glad you ended up in an apartment that you really like –
PB: Oh yes. It worked out fine; at the time I didn’t care for it, but now it’s worked out fine for me. And I’m very happy here. The people here are absolutely fantastic.
J: Oh, that’s wonderful. Can you tell me some of the examples of day-to-day things that really make you feel at home?
PB: Like a sorority!
J: You know, a lot of people do compare it to moving back to school.
PB: You can be busy any time of the day and any day of the year. We have bridge, we have poker, we have blackjack, we have trivia, we have all kinds. And we just put on a new show called The Flimflam. Have you heard about it?
J: No, tell me.
PB: Well, we have a wonderful gal here who was a music teacher, and she and I were having dinner one night, and I said to her, “We ought to put on a show.” Well she was absolutely fantastic, she was the director of the show, and _____ Bergman and I were the producers. 12:21 And it became – we just gave it last weekend! And everybody loved it.
J: Oh that’s wonderful. And you couldn’t do that if you were sitting at home in Naples, now could you?
PB: Oh, absolutely not. If I were home in Naples, most of my friends are still couples, and you probably don’t know what that’s like, but I’m sure after a couple of times with dinner with them, I’d say no way. This way I have dinner with different people every night practically.
J: Good, well that’s a lot of better choices for you then.
PB: Right, exactly.
J: Interesting. That’s an interesting way to look at it. A lot of people come as couples, but a whole lot of people come single.
PB: Let me say this – I know it’s easier to come as a couple and I was fortunate. I think it’s a little bit more difficult to come as a single person, but we do have a hospitality committee that is very friendly, that is very cordial. They call you and want to have dinner with you and that again, was wonderful when we came. Everyone would call us and we’d have dinner with different people. I just can’t say enough about it; I really can’t.
J: Well that’s good to hear.
PB: Once you’re here, everybody’s very happy.
J: Nice. Was there anything else that surprised you about moving to a senior housing/retirement community?
PB: I was surprised that the food was so good!
J: Oh good!
PB: I thought it would be institutional food! And it’s not. Sometimes the food is not that great, but the majority of times, the food is very good.
J: Well that’s very important, that’s a big time of day.
PB: That’s exactly right. Definitely. They’re very generous; they have wine Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I think they’re very generous with the things that they do too.
J: Wonderful. Well I know it’s one of our most special communities and it’s a wonderful place to live. Whenever I hear about your events and your classes that are available, it seems like a very special Watermark community.
PB: Now, I said I wanted to have our Flimflam taped, because I thought it would be a wonderful marketing took, but the Fountains wouldn’t pay for it. So we had –
J: And no one had a video camera?
PB: I guess now! So our director’s grandson had a video camera and he videotaped it for us.
J: Oh thank goodness. Have you seen the tape yet?
PB: No, I haven’t.
J: Oh I want to see that.
PB: We thought that certainly, it would be a very good marketing tool for you, but I guess –
J: Well, it’s certainly a lot of fun for everyone to gather together –
PB: Certainly! And prospective residents would like to see little bits and pieces of it.
J: Absolutely. And maybe their kids would like to see it too!
J: How did your kids feel about you and your husband moving to a retirement community?
PB: Oh they really – whatever we do is fine with them. In fact they were just down here for Thanksgiving, they just left. They live in St. Louis. They know I’m very happy here and they feel good about it.
J: That’s great – I know it is a big load off for a lot of kids to know that with storms and the weather –
PB: They know I’m very well taken care of.
J: Oh that’s terrific. Did you consult with your kids at all once you knew you were going to Sarasota? Did you just go visit those communities or did you look at their websites on the Internet?
PB: They wanted us to come to St. Louis, and of course, that’s where we came from. We went from St. Louis to Naples. But we went back to St. Louis and they were building a new Independent Living, and we kind of liked it, but when we got back to Naples, we didn’t know if we wanted to go through another winter like this. And so my son who was actually living in Geneva, Switzerland, their family was living in Geneva, Switzerland, they were transferred, or he retired here, and we thought this is perfect, we still get Florida.
J: So the timing was great.
PB: The timing was perfect. I can see when people come and look, it’s a big step. Sometimes I think a big help would be to help people move. I think as you get older, it’s very difficult to move and I think you do have some sort of a service for that – do you have that in Sarasota where people come and help move?
J: I do know that we’ll help coordinate that, because as you said, it can be very overwhelming. But to have someone, you know, a professional team come in, you can supervise what they do, I know we’ll help folks coordinate that and make those calls for them.
PB: And you know, I used to sell real estate, that’s why I wondered that. I often wondered, too, wouldn’t it be kind of nice if you had a real estate company here so when people come they can say we have a realtor that would be more than happy to talk to you about selling your house and what you have to do. Sometimes people have to be lead by the hands.
J: I think you’re right and I think the realtors would probably line up for that opportunity.
PB: I think they would too, don’t you?
J: I do!
PB: I don’t know if the people here that are in the marketing, do they have their real estate license?
J: No, I don’t think that they do, but they could certainly host a wonderful lunch and learn and realtors could come and learn about the community –
PB: And they could call on them if they need be, because sometimes, again, people have to be lead by the hand.
J: And that does take time. I always believe that you should meet a couple realtors before you choose and we could arrange a meeting where they could interview one person for twenty minutes and the next one for twenty minutes?
PB: Or have them come to the house! And they could interview them there.
J: Sure! That’s a good idea.
PB: I think that would help, because it’s a big, big step and for some people, it’s just overwhelming for them.
J: And sometimes they’ve been in the home for many, many years.
PB: And the more help you give them, the easier it will be for them. But I do think you have a services, I thought you did? We didn’t use them because we were out of town.
J: Well, we should be able to help people with that as well. It’s just a matter of a phone call – that’s a good thing to put on the list and a really great idea. Thank you.
PB: Oh, you’re welcome. We want you to fill these apartments because there’re quite a few vacancies!
J: Well, we do need to fill that community, because it’s a vibrant place –
PB: Oh, it is!
J: But it’d be more exciting and we want more people to enjoy it and the more full it is, the better it is for everybody.
PB: And here’s another thing I want to tell you, about our Flimflam. You know we didn’t have the newspaper here or any kind of…? I think that would have been wonderful advertising!
J: That would have been a fun news article, you’re right. I can just see the photo now of what that would have looked like in the newspaper.
PB: Exactly! Absolutely! And also, I think they did call one of the newspapers and they said no, if they went to one, they’d have to go to all of them, but I do think we have an observer here, we have all kinds of little newspapers, and that would have been a great marketing tool!
J: Oh, I think you’re right. I definitely think you’re right. I’ll make sure I speak with Joe and maybe get a little more connected with Kathy and find out what’s happening in the world of community life?
PB: Oh, Kathy’s wonderful. I can’t say enough about Kathy; she is absolutely fantastic. She has all these wonderful ideas.
J: Yeah, she’s got a good heart too, doesn’t she?
PB: She does. Very good, absolutely.
J: Well, I love this advice. I want to ask you, if you were sitting across from some people who just weren’t sure if they should move or not, what advice would you give them? And not that they should move to The Fountains, but say you’re talking to someone like you were in Naples. They’re just not sure if they should stick in the house another couple of years or if they should get someplace a little more fun and exciting?
PB: Well, I think it depends upon if they have friends or if they don’t. I just think the spirit has to move you. I don’t – I really think it’d be very difficult to say to them when they should move, I really do.
J: I guess they just need to pay good attention to how much they’re enjoying where they are.
PB: I think they need to come and see how great it is, meet the people, see how friendly they are, and then maybe make a choice.
J: You know, that’s a good idea, because if you don’t know what’s out there –
PB: Yeah, it’s the unknown, they’re afraid of the unknown! And they just have to experience all these things. And goodness knows they do have a lot of dinners and breakfasts and things here.
J: Where they can come and get a small taste of the lifestyle there. Ok, ok. Well that’s definitely good advice because you’re right, until someone’s ready –
PB: Yeah, you can’t really say when. The spirit has to move you and you say this is it. Do it. But I think the more they see these different places, the more at home they’ll feel in these different places.
J: Agreed. I think that’s definitely true.
PB: Don’t you?
J: I do. I definitely agree with you – it’s just like a kid visiting colleges, isn’t it?
PB: Exactly! Absolutely! Or like buying a house! Like buying a house.
J: It takes more than looking once to feel comfortable about that.
PB: Yeah, it has to talk to you.
J: Well, maybe we relate that message back in terms of, you know, most people have purchase a house or two, and most people are fairly traumatized by it, but once they got in there, they thought, “Oh, why in the world did I wait to do this? I just love it!”
PB: Or I should have done it sooner!
J: Interesting – that’s a good way to look at it.
PB: A lot of people are thinking I should have done this sooner, why didn’t I do this sooner?
J: And that’s kind of what I’m interested in learning more about. How to help those people do it sooner, basically, so they don’t have that regret, but also balancing and being respectful of the time it takes for the spirit to move you so you know it’s right.
PB: It’s hard, and maybe someone else might have the right answer, but I just feel that you have to have a gut feeling that this is best for us.
J: Well, I do agree with that. And we are talking about the benefits of moving to a community like Lakepoint Woods, just the general, good things about the life. I don’t want to miss any of these great benefits when I’m making a list here. We’ve got the food, we’ve got the friends, and as you said, you can be as busy as you want to be.
PB: And all the activities! And the generosity of – oh and the transportation!
J: Oh, that’s a good one. What do you like about the transportation?
PB: Fortunately I have my own car, but I know a lot of the gals use it for going shopping and going to the doctor and all kinds of things. And I think that’s a real plus.
PB: And again, I also want to say, not only are the residents wonderful people, but all the service people are wonderful.
J: Well, that’s great to hear.
PB: They – I mean the drivers of the buses, the concierge, the service people in the dining room – I can’t say enough about everybody. They really are wonderful.
J: Oh, that’s great, I love to hear that.
PB: And you know what’s nice about here? Everyone is happy.
J: Well now isn’t that wonderful?
PB: And you walk into our dining room and you hear people laughing.
J: Oh, that’s terrific, and that’s contagious, isn’t it?
PB: Oh, I think so. Especially with older people! They don’t laugh very much, but you’d be surprised; everybody is up. I think that’s what you’ve got to bring into these people that are looking.
J: That’s spark.
PB: That feeling of camradery and spirit – it’s fun to live here!
J: Oh that’s wonderful – that’s terrific to hear.
PB: We have a blackjack twice a month, and our blackjack dealer was a former dealer at Reno, and honest to God, we all put a dollar in and if there’s fifteen people, you win fifteen dollars! And he is absolutely fantastic.
J: Oh that’s great. And then it’s one more friend.
PB: Absolutely; absolutely.
J: That’s terrific.
PB: Now do most people you talk to say the same thing I say?
J: No. Everybody has a little bit of a different take. What I Like about speaking with you is you talk about how people feel and how you feel, and that feeling that you get in the community and you might call it a vibe where you just kind of go with your gut feeling. And a lot of people will be a little more of a list that you might make – I think that you’re right that it’s more than a feeling than a to-do list.
PB: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Life is a feeling, don’t you think?
J: I think you’re right. When you look at it that way, you’re going to be better off.
PB: Oh absolutely. It’s the feeling that Ok, it’s time for us to go. It’s the feeling that it’s time for us to go look. Definitely.
J: Just let it flow, right?
PB: That’s right. Now, I will say, you have to be healthy too, to have a good attitude, you really do. And that makes a difference too.
J: I think that too. Do you think that living in a community like the Fountains can help someone be more active and stay healthy longer?
PB: Oh absolutely! Because no one is lonely!
J: Oh, that’s great.
PB: You know, unless you want to be. And some people certainly like to be by themselves because you get all different personalities.
J: And some of the time, most people want a little bit of down time – some of the time anyway.
PB: But oh, I really can’t say enough about it; I really don’t want to sound like a Polly Anna, and I’ve told you the bad things about it, the marketing. 2011 was the worst – it was awful, but the rest is great and now I think it’s improved quite a bit.
J: Oh good. Good. Does Joe or anybody every ask residents, especially people like yourself, if you’d be willing to sit and meet with them, the ones that are looking around at different communities?
PB: Oh, I’m sure we’d get lots of people.
J: It’s almost like a hospitality community I guess.
PB: It’s our hospitality committee who would do it.
J: Ok, well there could be a lot of value about that because it’s one thing to talk to a sales person, and that could be wonderful, but it’s another thing entirely to talk to someone who actually lives there.
PB: I think so. Definitely. And I think that would be a big help.
J: I like that idea and you’d be great for that.
PB: I think maybe not when they take the resident around for the first time, but when they come back, then have someone from hospitality come with them.
J: That’s a great idea – give their perspective.
J: Not like a group tour, but more like you have a buddy on the tour.
PB: Exactly, and if they want to ask questions, and maybe the realtor or the marketing gal – what do they call the marketing people? They don’t call the realtors.
J: Maybe sales or marketing associate?
PB: Oh sales, yes. And maybe the sales can’t answer the questions that a resident could.
J: That’s true. They certainly couldn’t answer it in the same way, could they?
PB: I think so. And I think it might be a good idea if they come back a second time and ask them if they’d like a resident to come with them. And I think it’d be a big help.
J: I think that’s a great idea – now see, this is a wonderful outcome from speaking with you. I certainly appreciate your time Mrs. Beggan. You have any other thoughts or ideas or anything that we should –
PB: Not that I know of!
J: Well I hope that you’ll let us know if you do think of anything and I hope you won’t mind if I do come up with another question if I give you a call and ask you.
PB: No, I love people; I love to be involved in stuff like this. This is fine.
J: Well thank you. That’s good to know. Good. Then I suppose I’ll let you move on with the rest of your day, but rather than goodbye, I’ll say until the next time! I look forward to speaking with you again!
PB: OK Jill, it was nice talking to you too.
J: Thank you Mrs. Beggan.
PB: You’re welcome; bye bye!