But it was no surprise for his wife, Gerry. She was by his side while he battled myelodysplasia, the rare blood disorder that claimed the lives of author
"Through it all, he never lost his voice," she recalled. "Or his sense of humor."
He was the quintessential Southern gentleman; his wife never opened doors, pumped gas or worried about much of anything when he was around. The prospect of tending to her own affairs wasn't discussed.
"We didn't sit down and say, 'We're going to put this much money here and do this and do that.' We just didn't have those conversations," the 91-year-old Davis said during a recent interview at home,
"We didn't know we were going to get that old. It was just there," she said. "One day we looked at each other and we were in our 80s."
THE COUPLE'S SCENARIO is far from unique.
Modern lifestyles and medical advances have stretched life expectancies to the point where millions will outlive their ability to live independently -- and often their money. Children can't always be the caregivers.
The elderly population is being swelled by post-retirement age baby boomers, who will need everything from occasional assistance with daily chores all the way to 24-hour "memory care" supervision for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
Census figures say
With the metro area routinely popping up on national "best places to retire" lists -- and
"It's going to be transformative," said
NOWHERE ARE LOCAL preparations for the demographic tidal wave more visible than in the rapidly expanding senior housing industry, a sector that includes everything from 55-and-older "independent living" apartments to state-licensed care facilities providing 24-hour nursing services.
Some of the nation's biggest senior-living companies have planted flags in the area in recent years, including the industry leader,
The national companies join a bevy of facilities operated by local health care providers such as
Just last month, a
"It's amazing how many places are coming, and how many places we still need," said
BENTON HOUSE, WHICH opened last fall on
Freed from having to worry about daily chores such as cooking and cleaning, Davis has been able to more voraciously partake in the community's various activities and meet new people.
Benton House, like virtually all new senior communities in the metro area, markets to seniors with retirement assets or long-term care insurance capable of covering the costs. A 2014 national cost survey by
Many of the new upscale communities, including the planned
Many of those displaced residents now live in other area senior facilities.
Developers of the new
"We took a look at the fastest growing cities over a certain population and
The development will feature shopping center-like amenities such as a spa, a salon, a dining area with a separate sports pub room and a media center with a library and movie theater.
THOSE WHO CAN'T afford upscale and luxury senior living options can end up in places they don't want to be, whether it is substandard housing they can't maintain or at nursing home facilities whose medical care they don't need.
"The gap is not now in the lower or upper income brackets, it's more the middle, moderate-income," said Cummings, the
Earlier this month
But all 247 of its units are occupied.
"For the senior housing, we have a three-year waiting list," CEO
THOUGH MODERN SENIOR-LIVING communities are more like resorts and boast layouts ranging from small apartments to spacious cottages, studies show most older Americans still prefer to "age in place." That is, remain in their homes their entire lives.
Whatever people want their sunset years to look like, they and their families need to plan for options now to avoid having to make hasty decisions when events such as a spouse's death or a debilitating injury force the choice.
"This is the best decision that I ever made," she said. "This is home."
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