Cruising Through Life at Buena Vida Estates
Residents of Buena Vida Estates in West Melbourne are truly living the good life, without worry for the future.
The Buena Vida lifestyle is unique in many ways. Residents compare the complex to a “cruise ship on land,” because of the vast array of fitness programs, recreational activities and dining options available each day. But the biggest differentiator between Buena Vida and other senior living options is its designation as a Type A Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC.
Buena Vida residents sign a special Type A contract, which ensures they will be able to “age in place.” Residents will never be asked to leave Buena Vida, regardless of medical or financial reasons. This type of contract provides residents with peace of mind, knowing that their future is secure even if they outlive their financial assets. While prospective residents must be 65 or older and come in living fully independently, they are guaranteed access to quality medical care throughout their lifetime.
“Buena Vida is the only CCRC in Brevard, and one of very few in the state to provide a true continuum of care,” said Director of Marketing Teri Brant. “We offer independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing when needed.”
Wayne Chitwood and his wife, Debbie, were looking specifically for a CCRC that would provide all four levels of care. They lived in Titusville for over 30 years, and both worked for the space program. When Wayne’s mother passed away from cancer, he retired early to care for his elderly father. That experience deeply affected how the Chitwoods planned for their future.
“Once we had gone through all of that,” Wayne Chitwood said, “we knew we didn’t want to put that on our kids. We were looking at CCRCs out of state when we discovered there was one right here. Buena Vida met all our requirements and then some. I was amazed at what was here that we never knew existed!”
Prospective residents must undergo both a financial and medical evaluation to qualify for continuing care coverage. This is because the community must understand the level of risk they would be taking by underwriting the individual. That is why it is best to be proactive when considering a move to a CCRC.
“The key is to move in when you can enjoy everything they have to offer,” Chitwood said. “Don’t wait until it is too late. You never know what life has in store.”
Jan Bates moved to Buena Vida just over two years ago and now sits on the board of the nonprofit Buena Vida Foundation. For her, its status as a CCRC meant it was the only community she considered.
“They will take care of me here for the rest of my life,” Bates said. “I never want to be dependent on my family. I didn’t look anywhere else.”
Buena Vida’s overall health and wellness philosophy emphasizes meeting the mental, physical, and spiritual health of each resident. Their medical director, Dr. Stephen Giorgianni, has a satellite office on the property. An ophthalmologist, podiatrist, dermatologist, and massage therapist are on site monthly. Occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy are available every day. The family oriented lifestyle and the low turnover rate amongst both staff and residents ensures patients build relationships with their medical providers and receive compassionate care.
Just over 250 people currently call Buena Vida Estates home, but the community is expanding with the introduction of 24 new cottages this fall. Each home has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with a study and a two-car garage. These cottages will allow residents to experience truly independent living while still getting the security and peace of mind Buena Vista is known for.
The main campus features apartments in nine different floor plans, ranging from 400-square foot-studio spaces to two-bedroom, two-bath units with a den. Every apartment has a private screened-in patio. Both cottage and apartment residents have full access to all the amenities Buena Vida has to offer.
Buena Vida strives to provide residents with a healthy, active lifestyle. Looking over the list of fitness, dining, and recreation options available each day, it is no wonder many residents compare living at Buena Vida to a “summer camp for seniors.” There is something for everyone.
Residents can attend daily fitness classes, meet up in the game room, or even learn woodworking or glasswork in the newly expanded workshop. At lunch or dinner, residents can choose to dine in an elegant dining room or the more casual pub, which is home to a full bar.
“It was easy to feel like this was really and truly home,” Bates said. “Each time you do something new, you meet another group of people. I feel like it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
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