Housing for 55-plus crowd comes with a whirl of activity, so… find a new place to match the new you

By Lori Johnston
For the Journal-Constitution

Lois McKinnon tried tai chi for the first time.

Gerry Bittinger fell in love with water aerobics —- and the instructor.

Lani Ortman found room in her schedule for more golf.

All three believe the active adult and retirement communities they now call home have changed their lives. Here’s how.

GERRY BITTINGER, 73, Park Springs (Stone Mountain)

BEFORE: She lived in a single-family home. She had a busy lifestyle before moving into Park Springs but lacked immediate access to fitness and other social opportunities. “I know that eventually I wouldn’t be able to be as active because I had to drive to too many of these places.”

AFTER: She’s regularly involved in water aerobics at Park Springs and enjoys attending concerts, such as those at Woodruff Arts Center, on group outings. She’s also learned how to ballroom dance with her fiance, 80-year-old Bud Taylor. Taylor was one of the first people she met there when he offered to move her into her unit, which is right next door. They plan to wed in October.

SHE SAYS: “Another big advantage is you get to go to the concerts downtown and you don’t have to worry about driving or someone to go with. You can just hop on the bus.”

LANI ORTMAN, 60, The Cottages at Heron Bay (Locust Grove)

BEFORE: Lani and husband, Steve, lived in east Cobb County for 21 years and belonged to Indian Hills Country Club. They just were too busy working to play golf as often as they liked.

AFTER: Lani’s schedule is filled with golf, either playing at Heron Bay’s 18-hole Canongate Golf Course or one of the area’s 13 other Canongate courses. She plays at least three times a week, and usually more. Their home is on the 18th hole in The Cottages at Heron Bay, in Locust Grove. The couple and the other residents in the active adult neighborhood often gather to play bunko and for social events such as recent Kentucky Derby and Masters parties.

SHE SAYS: “This is like heaven for us. I thought we’d never leave Cobb County, and we love it down here. Everything worked out great.”

LOIS McKINNON, 82, Campbell-Stone (Buckhead)

BEFORE: She lived in a rental apartment in Mississippi but was forced to leave because of Hurricane Katrina. Few activities were offered in the community for residents, leaving her to find activities outside of the neighborhood. “I had a car down in Mississippi, but there wasn’t much to do there but gamble, and I’m not a gambler,” she says.

AFTER: Many days of the week are taken up with meditation, tai chi (which she decided to try after starting to lose her balance) and the Laughter Club, all offered at Campbell-Stone Apartments in Buckhead. That’s in addition to watching movies, going to the on-site beauty shop, outings to museums and other events, just to name a few.

SHE SAYS: “There’s just so much to do here. I’ve met a lot of people in the year and a half I’ve been here.”

Want sports? Outings? New friends or hobby? What fits you?