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Life is Never Boring for Chapel Hill Couple

Life is Never Boring for Chapel Hill Couple

Emma Smith, left, and her husband, Bob Smith, made an early decision to call Chapel Hill their home.

When Bob and Emma Smith first visited Chapel Hill Retirement Community in mid-2012, they didn’t know what to expect. The couple had already visited two other retirement communities. One was too small and the other, though large enough for two, seemed a bit extravagant.

“We knew we wanted something that would be suitable as our health care needs change,” says Bob, 76. “But we were also looking for something that would be fun and active, too.”

At the urging of some of their friends they decided to check out Chapel Hill, a United Church Homes community in Canal Fulton, Ohio.

“The best way to describe what we saw is ‘love at first sight,’” he says with a laugh. “We were blown away.”

“The people here are so friendly,” says Emma, 78. “And there’s so much to do. The food is excellent, too.”

In the last five years, both Bob and Emma were hit with health care challenges. In 2008, Emma developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune system disorder that can cause paralysis. The illness left her needing assistance to get around.

“We were fortunate that it stopped its progression at her waist,” Bob says. “But it was clear that we could no longer handle our two-story home.”

Then Bob was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011, which required six months of chemotherapy. They needed a change, but they didn’t want to settle for a quiet retirement.

Both retired school teachers, Bob and Emma had been extremely active before their illnesses. They loved to travel, and Bob had coached both boys' and girls' basketball teams. Bob also held numerous leadership positions at their church.

As the Smiths considered their future, they envisioned a place that would both meet their social needs as well as their health care needs.

They found it at Chapel Hill.

“Emma is doing much better now,” Bob says. “She can walk pretty well on her own, but what will happen if we experience more setbacks? We wanted to plan for our future as much as possible. Chapel Hill has everything we’re looking for.”

“At first I was afraid of being isolated,” Emma says. “I didn’t know what to expect, moving to a retirement community. When we’re healthy, we’re both fairly active, and I didn’t want to lose my independence. At Chapel Hill I don’t have to. I have such a sense of security.”

The couple moved into a spacious lake-view cottage at Chapel Hill’s Kroft Commons in January and are already planning a life full of activity.

“Some of the ladies were telling me about an exercise class that meets,” Emma says. “I can’t wait to join.”

“This is the best move we could have made,” Bob says. “We have security, activity and we’re near two of our daughters. It really is perfect.”