Some of the Best Walking Spots for Seniors in Richmond VA

Seniors who want to remain active have long known that walking can bring significant health benefits as well as help maintain independence. Adults who are 65 or older can benefit from at least 150 minutes of walking each week.

Seniors can be seen taking to the treadmills at the local gym or YMCA. Mall walking groups allow seniors to walk in comfort in the early mornings before shopping hours begin.

Some would suggest that the change of scenery could provide added benefits to the experience of walking. Studies have shown that walking in comfortable settings can improve the cognitive abilities of seniors.

Fortunately for Richmond area seniors, there are plenty of opportunities to walk in safe and pleasant surroundings.

Here are some of Richmond’s best offerings for taking a stroll.

Monument Avenue
Monument Avenue

A stroll down Monument Avenue is always a delightful experience. Enjoy the beautiful homes or take in the many historical monuments. The Monument Avenue Historic District extends from Roseneath Avenue in the west to Birch Street in the east and is a classic example of the Grand American Avenue. The first statue on Monument Avenue was that of Robert E. Lee, erected in 1890. Other monuments include J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury and Arthur Ashe.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is one of Richmond’s most visited attractions. Lewis Ginter requires membership or an admission fee, but it’s a beautiful place to stroll through diverse gardens and to learn about nature or even take a gardening class. The Garden is open year-round and includes more than 50 acres of gardens as well as shopping and dining opportunities. The Garden is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. It is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The Virginia State Capital
The Virginia State Capital

The Virginia State Capitol is home to the oldest continuously operating legislative body in the Western Hemisphere. Tours of the historic Virginia State Capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson are free to visitors. The visitor’s center has wheelchair accessible restrooms, elevators and ramps. Handicapped parking is available along Bank Street near the entrance. Guided tours are available Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Self-guided tours are also available.

Hollywood Cemetery
Hollywood Cemetery

Hollywood Cemetery offers one of the best views of the James River. The cemetery is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. daily. This beautiful, historic cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of Confederate soldiers as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart. U.S. Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler are also buried here. While beautiful, the terrain is very hilly.

The Richmond Canal Walk
The Richmond Canal Walk

The Richmond Canal Walk follows the banks of the Haxall Canal and the James River and Kanawha Canal. Visitors can view four centuries of Richmond history. Richmond’s Canal walk provides a beautiful stroll and a trip around Brown’s Island. Brown’s Island is a popular place for special events such as concerts and festivals. While there, visitor’s have the opportunity to visit the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar.

Belle Isle
Belle Isle

Nearby Belle Isle is accessible by a suspended pedestrian and bicycle bridge under the Lee Bridge at the end of Tredegar Street. Part of the James River Park System, Belle Isle has nature walks and views of the Hollywood Rapids. During the Civil War, Belle Isle was used as a prisoner-of-war camp. It has also been used as a granite quarry, a nail works and a hydroelectric plant.

Richmond’s unique Fan District gives the opportunity to walk through and observe some 85 blocks of Colonial Revival, Queen Anne and Italianate architecture. The Fan was named because of the way the streets fan out from Belvidere Street. It borders Richmond’s Museum District and the Carytown district.

Carytown
Carytown

Carytown is located at the southern end of Richmond’s Museum District. The area is a collection of boutiques and trendy retail shops with a bohemian flair. The historic Byrd Theatre has operated continuously since 1928. Readers of Southern Living Magazine voted Carytown the “Best Neighborhood to Shop in.”

Maymont Park

Maymont Park could be considered Richmond’s crown jewel. The 100-acre estate given to the city by James and Sallie Dooley offers the opportunity to stroll through the gardens, tour the historic mansion or watch the river otters play. The terrain through Maymont is quite hilly.

Byrd Park

Richmond’s Byrd Park is next to Maymont and has 400 acres, which includes access to the James River and nearby historical neighborhoods. Byrd Park has three lakes: Shields, Swan and Boat Lake. Boat Lake is also referred to as Fountain Lake and in season offers pedal boats for rent. The Carillon, built in 1926, is a memorial to those who died in World War I. There is a mile-long trail that includes exercise stops.

Other walking options in the Richmond area include some of the many parks.

The James River Park system runs from the Huguenot Bridge to the I-95 Bridge and includes some of the already mentioned locations like Belle Isle and Byrd Park. There are many trail and walking options to consider. The James River Park is also the location of the X-Terra-Off-Road Triathlon.

Forest Hill Park is the site of the former Forest Hill Amusement Park. It includes two trails, a lake, and a stream. The Forest Hill Trail connects to the Buttermilk Trail of the James River Park system.

Chimborazo City Park offers great views of the southern end of the city. This includes Richmond Battlefield Park and is adjacent to the restored Church Hill area of Richmond. Chimborazo Park was the site of the Chimborazo Field Hospital during the Civil War. There are multiple trail options to follow.

Huguenot Park in Chesterfield County offers generally flat trails that wind through forests of hardwood and pine. The park has an azalea garden, picnic shelters, and a fitness trail.

Forest Hill Park is the site of the former Forest Hill Amusement Park. It includes two trails, a lake, and a stream. The Forest Hill Trail connects to the Buttermilk Trail of the James River Park system.

Chimborazo City Park offers great views of the southern end of the city. This includes Richmond Battlefield Park and is adjacent to the restored Church Hill area of Richmond. Chimborazo Park was the site of the Chimborazo Field Hospital during the Civil War. There are multiple trail options to follow.

Huguenot Park in Chesterfield County offers generally flat trails that wind through forests of hardwood and pine. The park has an azalea garden, picnic shelters and a fitness trail.

What’s on Your Bucket List?

Ever since the eponymous 2008 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, “bucket list” has become a popular term for the list of life goals a person would like to achieve before they die — the things they’d like to do before “kicking the bucket.” Many retirees are finding that developing a bucket or “life list” is helping them enjoy life’s third act and giving them inspiration to overcome fears, try new things or achieve life-long dreams.

Not everything on your bucket list has to be an exotic adventure. Health and financial goals are a priority on many lists; tending to those small details that you never had time for while working full-time is important now that you’re retired. Bucket list items are meant to bring deeper meaning and enjoyment to life.

Some simple but meaningful ideas include: volunteering, designing and planting a garden, completing your estate planning, writing a book, reading the classics, learning a new language, taking music lessons, learning to paint or sculpt, taking cooking classes, joining a gym, learning a new craft or hobby, auditioning for a role in a community theater, eating at a five-star restaurant, or starting or finishing your family tree.

Facing fears and making life-long dreams come true are valuable additions to your bucket list. Here’s a sampling of ambitious goals some seniors are including on their bucket lists: sky diving, taking a cruise through the Greek Islands, visiting all of America’s national parks, visiting religious or historic monuments, meeting a hero such as the Pope or a past/current President of the United States, starting a charitable foundation, living in another country, traveling the U.S. in an RV.

Whether it’s two things or 200, the items on your bucket list should be more than just things that sound fun, they should be actions that challenge you and promise to add meaning to your life.

So, what’s on your bucket list? Better yet, what have you always dreamed of doing? It’s never too late to accomplish amazing things!

Differences Between For-Profit and Not-For Profit CCRCs

By Brad Breeding

“What is the difference between a not-for-profit community and a for-profit retirement community?” This is a popular question among prospective members.

Many not-for-profit retirement organizations are single site organizations, although some, like Lakewood at Home, are part of a larger group. The distinguishing feature of a not-for-profit retirement community, as with other not-for-profit organizations, is that all of the money earned or donated goes towards pursuing the organization’s objectives, instead of to the owners. Not-for-profit communities are typically structured as 501(c)(3) organizations, which, by definition, requires that they operate  for charitable purposes. Providing lifetime housing and health care services, even if a resident depletes his or her personal finances through no fault of their own, is often core to that charitable purpose. Most not-for-profit communities will maintain a foundation or endowment fund, which, if properly funded, can greatly enhance the organization’s ability to provide such financial assistance. By being a part of Lakewood at Home, members have access to LifeSpire’s VBH Foundation, which can provide benevolent support should the need arise.

By contrast, for-profit communities are often owned by a larger parent organization and are typically more profit-driven than charitably driven. This is not inherently bad because leaders of a quality organization know that if they do not offer a desirable product and look after their residents then eventually there will be no profits. And while a for-profit community may be more inclined to ask a resident to leave if they are no longer able to pay, most operators understand that it is good business practice to accommodate residents to the extent possible. They do not want a reputation in the community of being uncompassionate. In fact, some for-profit retirement communities also maintain separate charitable funds to provide financial aid for residents.

In theory, the chances of a resident requiring financial assistance from the community should be relatively low, regardless of whether it is a for-profit or not-for-profit provider. This is because most organizations go through a financial qualification process with new residents. A thorough process will help ensure a higher than average chance that the resident has enough money, under average circumstances. Furthermore, many providers offer a refundable entry fee, and in this case, if the resident runs out of money then their entry fee refund will almost always be used to offset healthcare expenses before any financial assistance will become available. Finally, for providers who accept Medicaid, residents may qualify for government assistance to cover healthcare expenses when they exhaust their funds.

LifeSpire of Virginia is a non-profit, faith-based provider that operates four continuing care retirement communities across Virginia as well as Lakewood at Home. The Virginia Baptist Foundation raises funds to help LifeSpire’s life care residents who outlive their financial resources remain in their homes. In 2018, the VBH Foundation provided more than $1,100,000 in benevolence to 60 residents across all four communities.

Brad Breeding is co-founder and president of MYLIFESITE, a website designed to provide objective information about continuing care retirement communities. A certified financial planner, Brad’s extensive knowledge of the senior living industry, combined with his financial planning background, allows him to provide valuable insights about lifestyle, healthcare, and financial planning considerations for seniors. This article is legally licensed for use.