Bye-bye, bingo. Ciao, canasta. Sayonara, solitaire. Today’s retirees are trading sedentary sameness for lives full of activity and adventure. From Pilates and Zumba to mixology classes and current events clubs, Valley retirement communities and physicians are helping the next generation of seniors live long, healthy, happy and downright hip lives – even during a pandemic.
Friendship Village Tempe
“Friendship” is an apt moniker for this community, which was established in 1980 as Tempe’s only Life Care community. Its design and amenities are tailormade for camaraderie. “Friendship Village’s objective is to offer a lifestyle with services and programs based upon your interests that will complement or augment your current lifestyle and wellbeing,” says Mark Young, director of sales and marketing.
In addition to multiple dining options – restaurant-style dining room, casual bistro, buffet and bar, Embers – residents enjoy a plethora of diverse activities. There’s a swimming pool, hot tub, fitness center, three libraries, woodworking shop and computer lab. The recreation center boasts studios for pottery, ceramics, lapidary arts and weaving, plus a dance floor. An auditorium hosts performances and events. Friendship Village also coordinates transportation to community, cultural and sporting events, when safe to do so. In the meantime, the staff has dedicated a staggering 3,000 hours to develop stay-at-home activities.
“As we look forward to the day when we can resume our lives as a community and gather with our friends, the health and safety of residents and employees remains our highest priority,” Young says. “Friendship Village Tempe will implement a multiphase approach when reopening our community to honor our commitment to the wellbeing of our residents and staff.”
Along with access to independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care and long-term care, residents will soon relish Friendship Village’s expansion, slated for completion in summer 2021. “The good times are getting bigger and better,” Young says. “We’ll have a brand-new addition offering senior apartments to fit a variety of tastes and budgets… New amenities, inviting common spaces and a smart long-term care plan are all good reasons to check out the expansion efforts currently underway!”
“Friendship Village’s objective is to offer a lifestyle with services and programs based upon your interests that will complement or augment your current lifestyle and wellbeing.”
Health and wellness are paramount at Maravilla Scottsdale, a luxury retirement community in North Scottsdale that offers independent living, assisted living and memory care. Its pioneering ZEST program is an evidence-based wellness initiative that focuses on engaging the mind, body and soul. “The great thing about ZEST is it was literally tailored to our residents,” says ZEST director Alissa Edwards. “Our corporate director of life enrichment spent six months surveying us ZEST directors in the field, surveying residents and finding out which activities and things resonated with residents the most.”
Those activities run the gamut. Fitness friends can take advantage of classes – spin, cardio, strength and balance – and a full-time instructor. Foodies enjoy mixology classes and cooking demonstrations. Culture vultures can take art classes or join a book club. Maravilla Scottsdale has also adapted these to virtual options and provided technological training to continue providing safe programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents have joined in to create their own lecture series. “We have a gentleman here who was a prisoner of war in China for seven years,” Edwards says. “He did a virtual presentation that not only included our residents here, but the entire company. He talked about how he overcame his isolation and gave them tips and tricks on how to overcome their own isolation. It was powerful.”
It all seems to be working: “Last year we won the ICAA Beacon Award,” Edwards says. “Out of all the communities in North America, we were ranked No. 13 for our wellness program.” She chalks it up to the people. “We have so many resident-run activities, and it gives them that ownership.” Plus, management listens. “I don’t say no,” she says. “When somebody comes up with an idea, I will always try it.”
The CORE Institute
Maintaining healthy activity in retirement is a team effort – for seniors and their health care providers. “The CORE Institute believes in a collaborative approach to care, which is why we have specialists in all areas of orthopedics as well as physical therapists,” says Dr. Mark Campbell, a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon. “When I treat a patient, I often call on my colleagues for insight and utilize their expertise to provide the highest level of care for that patient.” This holistic approach ensures patients get the optimum treatment plan for them, not a one-size-fits-all prescription.
Campbell’s practice focuses primarily on joint replacement procedures of the hip and knee and reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle. These maladies are of particular concern for the seniors who seek help at The CORE Institute. “For many of the patients that I see, arthritis of the hip or knee has limited their ability to be active and they are no longer able to do the things they love,” he says. “My philosophy is to always start with a conservative approach to care and utilize non-surgical treatments as the first option.” Recent advancements in computer navigation and robotics have been boons for minimally invasive joint replacements.
“After a knee replacement, many patients are pleasantly surprised with how active they can now be,” Campbell says. “Whether it is going for a walk a few miles a day or getting back into an exercise routine, it allows them to get back to a healthier lifestyle without the pain.”
“By posting the activity photos on Facebook, families were able to stay engaged with their parents.”
Fellowship Square Phoenix
For retirees whose Christian faith is central to their lives, Fellowship Square lives up to its motto: “Living in Faith. Living in Community. Living with Purpose.” The not-for-profit senior living community truly has a family vibe. “We are a close-knit community, and you can really feel there is a ‘certain something’ when you are on campus,” says Lindsey J. Arrey, director of marketing. “Visitors often say, ‘It just feels good here.’ It’s difficult to put into words.”
In addition to offering independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care, Fellowship Square has a partnership with Covenant Home Health, which has an office on its campus. “It’s really convenient for residents to have therapy in their home or take a short ride in a golf cart to our outpatient rehab center on campus,” Arrey says.
Fellowship Square has enhanced its online output during the pandemic. “Facebook has become a staple in communicating campus updates, for both residents and their families,” Arrey says. The staff has also adapted programming. “Our activities department started ‘traveling hallway activities.’ So instead of hosting our popular Wine Down Wednesdays happy hour in the Garden Café, the activities team loaded up a cart and took the event door to door! They did the same with a farmers market and a few other events.” They also scaled down activities for easy social distancing. “By posting the activity photos on Facebook, families were able to stay engaged with their parents.”
Touchingly, Fellowship Square’s Incident Command Team “kept a log to ensure each resident had some kind of communication with a staff member each day.” That level of care makes a huge impact, Arrey says. “Residents always tell us that they wish they would have made the move into Fellowship Square earlier – they wish they hadn’t waited so long.”
Dr. Estelle Farrell, D.O.
Valley of the Sun Institute for Pain Management
“I work with a mind, body, soul and social approach to issues,” says Dr. Estelle Farrell, an integrative physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist double-boarded in physical medicine and rehabilitation and pain management. “My training is to help support those in need of care to make them function as well as they can. This can mean anything – medication, injection, coordinating home and outpatient therapies, and coordinating patient care models that work for the patient to function to the best of their abilities.”
Dr. Farrell sees many senior patients at her offices in Scottsdale and Sedona. Among her specialties is regenerative medicine. “It’s more than just stem cells or platelet-rich plasma,” she says. “It’s also homeopathy and naturopathic approaches – natural things that help your body regenerate. It doesn’t have to be a big-ticket item.” She stresses that patients in need of injections should seek out a physician who is licensed and pursues ongoing education. “Whatever the product is, you want to make sure that they’re well-trained in how to do this, that they’ve had the proper training and certification.”
Ultimately, Dr. Farrell says, her goal is to get patients “back into the activities that they want to be doing to maintain activity, or to get more active.” Physical therapy, wraps, electrical stimulation units and education on proper walker and cane usage all play a role. “I help patients graduate to a better lifestyle,” she says. “I have patients that I’ve been seeing for 20 years. It’s a real pleasure.”
Glencroft Center for Modern Aging
“We are committed to providing the most cutting-edge programming in the industry,” says Steve Heller, vice president and director of operations of ZoeLife at Glencroft Center for Modern Aging. The community has more than 900 residents receiving “customized degrees of care, but with an unexpected spin,” he continues. “We incorporate a programming piece called ZoeLife, which at its essence means ‘abundant life.’ It impacts every part of a resident’s life, focusing on benefiting the mind, body and spirit. You will find it weaved into their food, workouts, therapy sessions, socialization, education and faith.”
A powerful outgrowth of the ZoeLife ethos is Glencroft’s Parkinson’s Golf Immersion Program, which “was specifically designed to address the problem of feeling a lack of purpose and direction when dealing with a disease like Parkinson’s,” Heller says. “If we could use golf to entice the resident to wake up every day intent to work on their mind, body and spirit, then we have won half the battle: motivation.” The community has a partnership with the Warren Schutte Players Academy at The Wigwam resort so participants can “work on their strength, balance, coordination and – most importantly – what they love most, golf, at an amazing facility with top-level instructors.” It’s been so popular that even non-residents have enrolled in droves and participated in overnight stays.
While COVID-19 has challenged Glencroft’s vibrant, interconnected community, Heller says the ZoeLife mentality equipped residents to survive and thrive. “They had the ability to implement many strategies they learned during their journey at Glencroft,” he says. It all goes back to the most common feedback Heller and his colleagues receive about their “forward-thinking” community. “Family and friends are excited to hear that Glencroft takes senior living to a new level, which provides them with peace that is difficult to find during this major life transition.”
Westminster Village’s status as Scottsdale’s only not-for-profit continuing care retirement community is important, says chief branding officer Lesley Midkiff. “Not only is it a feel-good thing for our residents when they move in – that they know that this is going to be home for life – but also we, as management, get to ask ourselves when a situation arises, ‘What’s the right thing to do here?’ And then solve problems that way, instead of asking ourselves, ‘Well, how do we hit our numbers for corporate?’”
The recently remodeled resort-style community has an approachable luxury, and residents are involved in nearly every aspect of life through various committees, from food and health services to activities and “plant operations,” aka the grounds and landscaping. “Our CEO’s right here on site, so residents can pop in and see him and say, ‘Hey, why don’t we do this?’” Midkiff says. “It’s giving residents a voice.”
Westminster Village has “a robust amount of stimulating programming,” Midkiff says, from virtual Zumba classes streamed into their homes to tai chi. Sustainability has been a priority for residents and staff, and the community is a certified Monarch Waystation in collaboration with Butterfly Wonderland. “That’s a very popular program that gets our residents outside and interacting with nature.”
Even potential residents are welcome in the community. “We have about 280 people on our wait list, and we invite them to come on site and use our campus like a country club so that they can really get a feel for what they’re moving into before they move in,” Midkiff says. “We create a big family environment.”
It’s fitting that this full continuing care community in Central Phoenix – which offers independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing – shares a name with the opulent tower at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. “We’ve recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation, so when you walk into the building, you actually feel more like you’re in a hotel than a senior living community,” says Mark Aronauer, director of marketing. “It’s more of a hospitality-driven mindset. We’re really focused not only on it being a wonderful place for residents to live, but we also want their family members to really enjoy coming here.”
To that end, they added a bar in the main lobby, a professional salon open to the public and an intergenerational room for visiting family. “Mom and daughter could do a hair and manicure day at the salon,” Aronauer says. “When the grandkids and the great-grandkids come to visit (in normal times), there’s a room with all kinds of games and toys that they could go and use, either while Grandma takes a nap… or Grandma wants to interact with the grandkids and watch them playing Legos or participate with them.”
“The Palazzo is really full of vibrance and life on a day-to-day basis.”
There’s also a movie theater and a craft room and, thanks to a partnership with Jewish Family and Children’s Services and its Senior Enrichment Center, a rich roster of activities: painting, sculpting and exercise classes; music and dance performances; and even ventriloquists and magicians. “The Palazzo is really full of vibrance and life on a day-to-day basis,” Aronauer says. During the pandemic, management has adapted these into virtual offerings streamed via an in-room TV station.
About those rooms: “Our apartments are spacious, that’s another thing that really sets us apart,” Aronauer says. “They’re really big and open, with a lot of natural light and balconies – or patios, if they’re on the first floor. Everybody has access to outdoor space.” The Palazzo’s central location is helpful for visiting family and friends and for competitive rates. “It’s luxury living at affordable prices.”
Education and faith are the pillars of Beatitudes Campus, founded in 1965 by Dr. Culver “Bill” Nelson, who had a pioneering idea for a retirement community. Nelson was the senior pastor of Church of the Beatitudes. “He and the dynamic group that he put together to create an entirely different kind of senior living campus were determined to foster the open, welcoming spirit and vibrant learning of a college campus,” says Rod Bailey, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “That type of foresight was outside of the traditional thinking about senior living at the time, and the campus began to achieve a lot of notoriety for its new way of being more than just a ‘nursing home.’ Along the way, we expanded to meet the changing preferences of seniors and their families by adding new services, amenities and residential choices.”
The education component has remained. Beatitudes’ award-winning Life Long Learning Institute is “completely run by residents, who offer 25-30 classes a semester, hire the instructors and conduct the registrations,” Bailey says. Even prospective residents can enroll in a class. “It’s always a solid motivator, as they connect with not only the topic but also the residents.” There is a jaw-dropping list of more than 100 clubs, organizations, interest groups and volunteer opportunities.
Management has kept these going even in the COVID-19 era. “Seemingly overnight, we became Zoom experts,” Bailey says, virtually adapting tours and programming. “Can you imagine a comedy ventriloquist performance… actually done on Zoom?” he continues.
They also started new TV programming to disseminate information including health updates, fitness classes and church services. “It has been so affirming to receive positive feedback from residents and their families expressing their gratitude and appreciation about the measures we have taken to keep residents, staff and the community safe,” says Michelle Just, president and CEO. “Despite the difficulty of making decisions to temporarily close restaurants and amenities and limit visitors, I consistently heard comments like ‘You’re doing the right thing.’ ‘I feel so safe at the campus.’ ‘Thanks for caring so much about my folks.’ ‘Know that you’re loved and appreciated more than you could ever imagine.’”