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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Retirement Communities Join Internet Revolution

For a long time, Retirement Communities have not seen the potential of "owning" their own internet-based communication/phone/internet/surveillance system in their own communities. Now, more and more communities are understanding how to mesh all of these services at a reduced cost to residents. The key is offering more services and more efficient options to community residents and their families at a reduced cost?

How do you do this? I am working with a new firm, RETIREconnect, that is offering an array of new services that allow communities to provide better and less expensive services while adding power to internal and external community communications. In addition, the community can offer an array of new services for the family to "stay in touch", as well as in some cases monitor the health of the resident.

Want to know more? Email me or call (888)742-7362 for more information.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

McCormick County Promotes a Great Amenity

One of the key amenities for relocating boomers and retirees is nature and open space. There will continue to be a return to small towns, exurbs (areas located a drivable distance away from metro areas) and nature driven locations. McCormick County understands the research and is agressively marketing its miles of paddle trails, in additions to other outdoor amenities.

McCormick is unique in that it hosts South Carolina's only resort state park with golf course. And, of course, you have beautiful Lake Thurmond and miles of undistributed forest.

The county is also unique in that a full 50% of the tax money collected in the county comes from residents at Savannah Lakes Village, a popular 55+ community. As South Carolina's smallest county, McCormick struggled for years in rural poverty. Savannah Lakes Village has "imported" some very prosperous, educated and experienced new residents from out of state. This community has put the county on the map to outsiders. And, now, the McCormick powers-that-be have the foresight to promote a very valuable asset: nature and outdoor recreation.

McCormick Markets Nature, Outdoor Recreation for Visitors, Retirees
Let’s see. Fifty-one miles of water trails over 22 paddling sections. A 50-mile
scenic drive through small rural towns and the Sumter National Forest. Sixty-three
thousand acres of public land. Two state parks, three USACE parks, four golf courses and 136 miles of hiking and biking trails.

It’s an astonishing conglomeration of recreation opportunities. For this Carolina Adventure, let’s consider the 51 miles of water trails. It’s a paddler’s paradise, for sure, and even if you’re the sedentary type, there are plenty of ways to
enjoy the outdoors without undue exertion.

Why not plan to spend the night and enjoy two days of fun?

There are five campgrounds within the Little River Blueway, as well as Hickory Knob State Resort Park and Fannie Kates Country Inn.

WOW FACTOR: Land and Wildlife Abundance/Conservation – Remarkably, the Little River Blueway offers 63,000 contiguous acres of preserved public land (mainly Sumter National Forest land). Waterways and paddling routes are buffered by USACE and National Forest land, allowing visitors to be completely immersed in nature. Wildlife in this area is abundant with bald eagles, blue herons, white egrets, beavers, river otters, deer, raccoons, red fox and bobcats commonly spotted throughout the Little River Blueway land and water trails.

HINT: Nothing beats an early morning sunrise paddle on the Blueway. Visit the Website and Little River Blueway on Facebook for water flow that may update the northern sections of the water trails. The Website also offers free downloads of
all regional trails maps, including an overall Little River Blueway project map.

Carry a GPS unit and cell phone, wear a whistle and avoid all-cotton clothing. Adventure area maps are available at the McCormick County Chamber of Commerce
and Savannah Lakes Village Visitors Center. For more information:

Retirees Moving to NC's Triangle

Going Halfway Back
Triangle Business Journal - by Chris Baysden
Friday, October 22, 2010, 9:29am EDT

CARY – About a year ago, Mark Hellerman and his wife, Roberta, packed up their bags to move out of Plantation, Fla. Hellerman, a native New Yorker, was retiring as a dentist and the couple wanted to start the next stage of their lives together in someplace other than the Sunshine State.

The Hellermans wanted to relocate to a place with cultural opportunities. The couple also preferred to be near a major airport so they could visit their grandchildren, who live in three different states. And after 26 years in tropical Florida, distinct seasons would be a nice touch.

When it came time to make a decision, the Hellermans picked Cary as their new home. And they’re glad they did.

“I like the climate,” says the 62-year-old Hellerman, who also enjoys the cultural offerings available at venues such as the DPAC. “I like the people … I’ve met.”

And how long do they plan to live here? “Till death do us part,” he says.

It’s no secret that North Carolina, and the Triangle in particular, has experienced a great wave of population inflow in recent years. According to U.S. Census figures, North Carolina added more than 1.3 million people over the past decade, growing from 8 million in 2000 to nearly 9.4 million in 2009.

Many of those have been drawn by the prospects of new jobs in the Triangle or in Charlotte. At least that was the case before the recession put the kibosh on growth. But there is a smaller group that includes retirees like Hellerman.

And where did they come from?

Florida was the No. 1 feeder state, with 38,188 moving from the Sunshine State. People moving from Florida to North Carolina often are dubbed “half-backs” because many originally moved down to Florida from northern states only to come halfway back by moving to North Carolina. New York (26,319) and Virginia (22,413) were the second and third largest feeder states.

Wake County attracted 21,106 of those 55-plus who relocated, tops in the state.

The retiree group is what Dan Owens thinks the state needs to do a better job of targeting. “It’s a fast-growing market with people with money,” says Owens, the Charlotte-based director of the National Active Retirement Association. “We have no strategy to appeal to that group.”

Owens’ pitch is simple: Attracting retirees is good for North Carolina’s economy. They’ve had a lifetime to save money, which they now are able to spend on houses, health care, resort activities and all kinds of consumer spending. Plus, retirees don’t have school-age children, so unlike many of the other people moving to North Carolina, the state won’t have to devote resources to educating their kids.

The N.C. Department of Commerce doesn’t have programs that are specific to attracting seniors. Spokesman Justin Guillory says the department markets to all people. “And a lot of those things we do market would be of interest to seniors,” he says.

In the past decade, about 230,000 people age 55 or older have relocated to North Carolina from another state and obtained a driver’s license, according to an analysis of N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles data conducted by Owens.

The Triangle is an attractive location for seniors for several reasons, including its strong health care facilities, universities that provide cultural opportunities and the presence of a major airport. In some cases it is now home to the kids and grandchildren of seniors looking to relocate.

Carla Sevilla, the vice president of sales and marketing for Michigan-based home builder PulteGroup Inc.’s local operations, knows the benefits of targeting seniors as customers. The company’s Carolina Preserve by Del Webb at Amberly retirement community, which is where Hellerman lives, has done very well catering to that demographic.

“If we have an opportunity to do another one, we’d do it in a heartbeat,” she says.

Read more: Going Halfway Back | Triangle Business Journal

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top CCRCs and Active Adults Win 2010 NARA Awards

Retirement Association Names 50+ Award Winners
Active Adult and CCRC communities were recognized as among the best of the best in the 50+ and senior housing industry by winning a National Active Retirement Association (NARA) Award at its annual conference Oct. 21.

PRLog (Press Release) – Oct 26, 2010 – Charlotte, NC – Brookhaven at John Creek in Johns Creek, GA, the Palace at Coral Gables at Coral Gables, FL and The Mather of Evanston, IL and operated by Mather Lifeways, were among those communities recognized as among the best of the best in the 50+ and senior housing industry by the National Active Retirement Association (NARA) at its annual conference Oct. 21 in Columbia, SC.

The Brookhaven, developed by Jim Chapman Communities of Atlanta, was named the best small Active Adult/Retirement Community. Judges cited the community’s location near country club-style amenities, access to area healthcare and interesting design features as the strengths of this 55+ age-restricted community. ( ...).

The Palace at Coral Gables (FL) was named the Best Proposed Active Adult/Retirement Community based on the appointments, the services and the amenities. (

The Mather won the Gold Award as the Best Continuing Care Retirement Community and the Best Amenities in a Retirement Community. This large community offers 24-hour concierge service, seven dining and lounge options and an extensive fitness center and day spa. (

“Our judges were extremely impressed with our top winners in the retirement design/build category because of their focus on enriching the lifestyle of their residents,” said NARA Director Dan Owens. “For instance, The Brookhaven is a smaller 55+ property but residents there do have access to a lifestyle director who organizes activities and events.

“The Palace is focused on luxury and being convenient to shopping and restaurants. And, Mather Lifeways has a track record of reinventing a retirement lifestyle for their residents. We are thoroughly impressed with the philosophy of active aging that this organization promotes,” Owens added.

Winners in the annual NARA awards program were:

Best Small Active Adult Community
Gold Award – Brookhaven at Johns Creek, Johns Creek, GA

Best Proposed Active Adult/Retirement Community
Gold Award – The Palace at Coral Gables, Coral Gables, FL

Best Proposed Clubhouse/Community Center
Gold Award – Bailey’s Glen, Cornelius, NC (

Best Continuing Care Retirement Community
Gold Award – The Mather (Mather Lifeways), (Evanston) Chicago, IL

Best Amenities in an Active Adult/Retirement Community
Gold Award – The Mather (Mather Lifeways), (Evanston) Chicago, IL

Best Logo
Gold Award - Neptune Society/Starmark (

Best Community Brochure
Gold Award – Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board, Irmo, SC (

Best Direct Mail Piece/Overall Direct Mail Campaign
Gold Award - The Glenridge on Palmer Ranch, Sarasota, FL (

Best TV Commercial
Gold Award - The Glenridge on Palmer Ranch, Sarasota, FL (
Silver Award – Neptune Society/Starmark

Best Website
Gold Award –

NARA is a fast-growing, ten-year-old business trade group for America’s top professionals involved in building for, marketing to and serving the “50 and beyond” age group. (

# # #

The National Active Retirement Association (NARA) is a 10-year old, grassroots trade organization that organizes and helps marketers, builders and professionals, businesses and organizations that provide products, housing and services to people age 55+.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Social Security - The True Halloween Scare

I am amazed at the news media's reluctance to actually parse the issues in the current election and hold the candidate's feet to the fire on their answers. Being in the aging business, I have to hold my nose to see Congressman Larry Kissell's ads attacking challenger Harold Johnson for wanting to destroy the Social Security system. I've also seen the ad by Congressman John Spratt accusing Mick Mulvaney of wanting to outlaw Social Security. Spratt's ad shows Mulvaney in front of seniors behind bars.

Now, come on.

I know that both ads were paid for by the Democratic National Committee and it has been a tired and well worn campaign tactic of the Democrats to try to paint Republicans as anti-seniors. But, the reason why Social Security and Medicare are headed straight toward fiscal insolvency is the fear-mongering that goes on whenever proposals to save these programs are discussed.

So, the first politician to be responsible and suggest alternatives gets beat over his head by his opponent as anti-Social Security. And, the politicians know that older adults vote.

I am an advocate for older adults. But, as Dr. Joe Gribbin, painfully and shockingly pointed out at the National Active Retirement Association (NARA) Conference this past week, the money's running out soon. Unless something is done, this country's entitlement obligation threatens to throw the country into bankruptcy.

I thought it was interesting that when I called the Associated Press in South Carolina to cover Dr. Gribbin's Social Security presentation, the response I got was: "we're too busy covering the election." How short-sighted is that? Covering the sound bites and ignoring the issues. This is the abyss we find ourselves in circa 2010. Is there any wonder intelligent people are seeking their information far and wide on the internet?