Lifelong Health & Aging

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Choosing Her Home & Garden for Today and Always

When Susan Miller planned the design of her home, she did so with one idea in mind.

“I built this home thinking I would age in place,” she says from the chair of her sunroom with a view befitting her years as a Master Gardener.

The retired teacher likes to plan, and that includes facing a reality that many dismiss until decisions are out of their control. The fact that growing old is a part of living is a lesson she explored in teaching literature to high school students. Procrastinating about the topic isn’t going to make it go away.

“I wanted to avoid making fast decisions with no input and knee jerk reactions to God-awful situations,” Miller says.

That’s the primary reason her spacious home is on one level. It’s the thinking behind ongoing master bathroom renovations that will include a walk-in shower. It’s also why, after thorough research, she enrolled in ChooseHome.

Miller, 74, navigated the challenges of aging parents years ago. More recently, she watched her peers move into continuing care units that don’t appeal to her.

Miller can’t imagine herself in that type of community and jokes she’d be “expelled.” She’s on the move and outdoors more than she’s in and can’t imagine exchanging that lifestyle for a facility.

For one, Miller cringes at being exposed to the same demographic every day. She enjoys teenagers and young adults and the interaction with them that keeps her current on what’s going on in the world today. But primarily, “You realize what you sacrifice and it’s control,” she says.

A sign hanging just outside of her back door reads, “One is never closer to God than in the garden.” She’s testament to the adage that there’s no such thing as a lazy gardener. Her landscaped space includes blooming flower beds of lilies and snapdragons, rows of fresh vegetables, hanging pots and window boxes, a trellis reminiscent of the one next door on the grounds of the Williamsburg Winery and a pond, which, along with the birds, supply the only sounds on a glorious spring afternoon. After a morning of pruning and planting, Miller often lunches on the backyard porch, her Schnauzer, Harry Truman, beside her, looking as cozy there as he is curled up on the upholstered chairs indoors.

This is Miller’s happy place.

“I would go crazy being indoors all the time,” she says.

Miller also believes ChooseHome makes the most financial sense. She’s examined all the costs involved with the various options.

“I’m independent and that’s what I want for my future,” she says. “Having choices is very important.”

Miller moved multiple times in her life. She grew up in Florida, taught in Atlanta, lived for three years in New Orleans and settled in Williamsburg in 1981 with her husband, Jeff, whom she lost to cancer 12 years ago. They shared a house in Kingsmill that wasn’t ideal for aging and contained too many memories of their life together.

Her home today is completely a reflection of her and what’s important to her about daily living right down to making sure the backyard faces south so that it receives morning sun and makes for cooler afternoons.

When Miller relocated here, she vowed it would be her final move, adding, “ChooseHome is the most viable option for that.”

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