When marine biologist Mike Vecchione and his water-loving wife Susan began their search for a senior living community, what wasn’t to like about Asbury Solomons?

While the riverfront location was the primary attraction, Solomons is also within commuting distance of Washington, D.C., where Mike,72, works at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. For now, he works remotely from his apartment, where technology allows him to study squid, octopods, and other undersea creatures via a remote hookup to an undersea submarine streamed on his large TV screen.

Marine biologist and volunteer

Mike and Susan are two of the many residents at this continuing care ‘retirement’ community who aren’t actually retired or remain so active with hobbies and campus projects that their calendars resemble someone with a 9 to 5 job!

Over the course of Mike’s 35-year career, he’s conducted joint explorations with other countries, including a nearly-3-mile-deep dive on a Russian submarine.

Mike also teaches at the College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and, when he’s not working, he volunteers on a skipjack at the Calvert Marine Museum just a few miles away on Solomons Island.

Susan,71, volunteers for the Greenwell Foundation in Hollywood, MD, which specializes in providing outdoor experiences for disabled children and adults, veterans, at-risk kids, and others. Susan is an animal lover who enjoys kayaking and other water sports, so Greenwell provides the chance for her to share those passions with others. She works with the organization’s equestrian program and helps to provide horse experiences, including trail rides.

Perfect spot for kayaker and dog lover

When not volunteering, Susan likes to take part in Asbury Solomons’ resident clubs and programs. Both she and Mike take water aerobics and attend guest lectures, and Susan joins others to crochet, have tea, and kayak – a sport she loves.  “It’s very relaxing to be out on the water,” says Susan, who often spots turtles and dolphins during her journeys. She’s part of a group that is teaching other Asbury Solomons residents to kayak.

Susan is also leading the charge, along with two other residents, to build a dog park at Solomons. “Dogs are important to my quality of life,” she says. After series of back and neck surgeries, Susan has limited mobility, and Pico, a Portuguese Water Dog trained to serve as a mobility dog, gives her independence. He can pick up just about anything, retrieve the mail, and remove clothes from the washing machine for Susan to put in the dryer. Pico even kayaks!

The Vecchione household also includes Cappy, a Lagotto Italian water dog, who has no interest in working and “only likes to swim,” according to Susan.

Planning for aging

And dogs may be man’s best friend, but having moved to Asbury Solomons from a farm in rural Virginia, Susan is thrilled with the enhanced human interaction she’s had post-move. “We had no close neighbors,” says Susan. “I’ve made so many new friends and my days are filled with activity while Mike works.”

She’s also glad that they made the move when they did: “If we waited another 10 years, I’m not sure we would have been able to take advantage of all the activities Asbury Solomons and the surrounding area offer.”

Susan is very pragmatic about aging.  Both her mother and grandmother lived in continuing care retirement communities, so she’s familiar with the many ways they improve quality of life.  And, with three sons scattered across the country, she has peace of mind knowing that she and Mike have a plan in place should they need it.

Along with the proximity to the water, the couple also valued knowing that Solomons provides on-campus physical therapy and other health services, and was near quality healthcare and emergency services if needed.

“We’re still relatively young, but you don’t know what’s going to happen today or tomorrow. I spent years working in home health and although I love the concept, I know how difficult it is to really provide consistent, reliable care at home,” says Susan.

Mike sums it up with his dry wit: “I’m just glad my wife is happy.”

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