This week's guest blot is submitted by Wendy Foster, an account executive at Ivy Marketing Group which specializes in inbound marketing, traditional marketing and public relations for senior retirement communities and home health care agencies.
My grandmother spent her final years in the Old Home. That’s what it was called and the name suited it well. She joined hundreds of other senior citizens in a very institutional setting. Activities included BINGO and knitting; food was delivered on plastic trays and consisted of rubbery chicken and soggy vegetables, one day was very much like the rest. Consequently, the next generation...our parents…begged us not to “do that to them.” Under any circumstances.
As someone who works with senior retirement communities, I feel like I’m privy to one of the best kept secrets of our generation. That institutional old home is not where we aging baby boomers are destined to spend our senior years. In fact if my generation, in which someone is turning 62 every eight seconds, knew what possibilities lay ahead for our retirement years, we’d all be clamoring to line up for what is possible in our next phase of life.
Take for instance The Clare at Rush and Pearson. The high-rise retirement apartment building turns the stereotypical perception of senior housing on end. There is no other senior community quite like it anywhere. The 53-story building itself in the heart of the Gold Coast, feels like a luxury hotel complete with uniformed doorman and concierge; state of the art fitness center, spa, lounges, media rooms and fabulous restaurants. The views from the building overlooking the Gold Coast, Lake Michigan, and Hancock Building are breathtaking, the artwork adorning the walls: stunning!
The halls of The Clare are often quiet during the day…the reason being that many of the residents are too busy to be hanging around enjoying the amenities. The population of residents seems to be divided between those seniors who have lived in the city and wanted to retain their access to its energy and cultural opportunities; and those who raised their families in the suburbs while eagerly awaiting the chance to spend their later years downtown. Most, but not all are retired from their professions. Those still working include a federal judge, doctors, consultants and other professionals. Many of the residents are engaged in various social, philanthropic and volunteer capacities. The Clare is on the campus of Loyola, and residents take advantage of their continuing education offerings.
One has the option, but not the need to venture outside of the gorgeous confines of The Clare to keep busy. The activities director, formerly an assistant activity director on a cruise ship, plans plenty of programs to keep residents actively engaged on-site. During any given week, the program line-up might include a speaker on Chicago’s security measures during NATO, a presentation about impressionist Berthe Morist or a discussion about skin care led by Marilyn Miglin. Lyric Opera holds seminars at The Clare. Resident-directed interest groups include poetry writing workshops, art programs, current event groups that discuss investments and travel and more. “We are not a rocking chair community. We’re a vibrant group,” a resident recently told me before setting off on a 2 ½ mile round trip jaunt to Navy Pier.
It’s a little bit of a dilemma. While access to five-star restaurants is a perk to the great location, the chef-prepared meals at The Clare offer quite a bit of competition. Residents have great selections from which to choose and the chefs focus on fresh seasonal and healthy offerings.
While 80 is the new 60 and aging seniors are largely active and independent, at some point health and/or mobility may decline. The Clare is a continuing care retirement community, meaning that changing needs can be met on-site. In addition to independent living, The Clare provides assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, all tailored to individual needs.
This is clearly not my grandmother’s Old Home…not even close. It’s a chance for aging adults to live in a vibrant and luxurious environment that caters to their every social, cultural and physical need!
Wendy Foster is an account executive at Ivy Marketing Group which specializes in inbound marketing, traditional marketing and public relations for senior retirement communities and home health care agencies. Wendy is also a freelance writer and columnist and has contributed to publications including Chicago Tribune, Sun Publications, Suburban Life, Northwest Quarterly, West Suburban Living, Patch, Glancer Magazine and more.