By The Books

Preparing for life after retirement

By Shanna Hogan 

After more than 65 years of marriage, octogenarians Dwain and Shirley Ehrlich knew they were ready to take the next step after retirement. And for Dwain, a retired school superintendent with more than 40 years of teaching experience, that meant doing his homework.

“It was time to start thinking about our future and what we were going to do,” Dwain says. “We had to make a decision: Were we going to stay in the home we built in Sun City, or were we going to move into an independent living community.”

Dwain researched and toured senior living communities around the Valley, studied actuary charts, budgeted for the future and read several books on retirement. The final decision came last year when he read the book “Being Mortal.” The author Atul Gawande, an experienced surgeon, explores the realities of aging and dying with the ultimate goal of living a healthy and good life all of your days. Group living for seniors can be a positive transition, Gawande says, because it provides quality of life to residents and helps them stay happier and healthier.

“That book helped me put things very clearly in perspective about what I felt we should do,” Dwain says. “My wife and I started talking and realized we needed to get serious.”

Eventually the couple narrowed the search down to Sun Health’s Grandview Terrace in Sun City West and another community, but then they heard about The Colonnade. After touring the community, located in Sun City Grand in Surprise in December, they put a deposit down the next day.

But there was much more involved in the Ehrlichs’ decision than simply finances. For Dwain and Shirley, it was important for them to be able to partake in a lifestyle that would keep them healthy and thriving. 

One important aspect to consider was Dwain’s physical wellbeing. While contemplating which community to choose, Dwain says each one emphasized the importance of exercise. They found the classes and people at The Colonnade to be exceptional.

“The activities we have at The Colonnade provide for mental, physical and social wellbeing, and are just wonderful,” Dwain says. “Those are the Masterpiece Living® concepts that will help you to live a longer life.”

Since moving into The Colonnade, he and his wife regularly participate in exercise classes and “Meetup” group activities and outings.

“There’s always something going on here,” Dwain says. “We could sit here and do these things on our own, but we find it much more fun to meet the people who are also participating.”

During more than six decades together, the Ehrlichs say they have lived a good life. They lived across the country in Kentucky, Nebraska, Wyoming, Iowa and Wisconsin, and raised five children, two of whom have passed. Together, they say they are ready for their next adventure.

“My wife and I looked at it from this standpoint: Together we have a new chapter of our life.” Dwain says. “Our new life at The Colonnade lets us meet very interesting people, and provides us with an opportunity to participate in intellectual and spiritual programs, music programs and social activities on and off the campus. We’re having a great time.”

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