According to Peter Laslett, theorist and founder of the University of the Third Age in the United Kingdom, the third chapter of life begins after age 60. Many Baby Boomers are already experiencing it. Laslett refers to the last stage of the journey as the “Fourth Age,” when one becomes settled and lives out the remaining Golden Years in peace and resolution. At least that’s the hope – that one has earned this reward for having come to this point in the journey.
At the crossroads of the Third and Fourth Age, one faces the question of how and where to live out these years, to make them as golden as possible. Sometimes, this question is answered by the person experiencing this crossroads. Other times, a loved one, perhaps a son or daughter, steps in to make the decision. Regardless of who makes the choice, there are more good options today than ever before. Here are a few.
1000 Falcon Point Place, Rockton, Ill.
(815) 624-6700, www.highviewseniorliving.com
Barb Hanson, 86, made her own choice about where she would spend her older years. Born and raised in Rockton, she already knew about Highview in the Woodlands, which has been part of the community for 106 years. It was near the home she had known all her life. It was the right choice for her.
Highview’s lobby and common areas are graced with antiques that have been donated by residents. A beautiful, intricate wooden table is delicately oiled with a toothbrush on a regular basis. There’s nothing institutional about its appearance, and its cleanliness is apparent in the pleasant scent as you enter.
“This has been a very good experience for me,” says Hanson. “I love the people here and I’m very happy at Highview.”
Highview in the Woodlands is a licensed assisted living residence comprised of apartments. Some residents live independently, while others require nursing care. The Alzheimer’s unit includes shelter care licensed, private rooms with nursing support and uses a unique technique based on the Montessori method, which includes colorful, interactive and practical life activity areas for enhancing memory. Highview also has a Snoezelen room, inspired by a Dutch concept of providing a multi-sensory experience that creates a soothing, calming reaction in the residents with Alzheimer’s disease, for the purpose of reducing agitation. The room incorporates light, scents and sounds to trigger memories and maintain a connection with reality.
6401 Newburg Road, Rockford, Ill.
(815) 229-0390, www.petersonmeadows.org
When Marlys Jarvinen, 84, moved back to the Rockford area last winter, she and her family wanted to find a retirement home that offered a sense of community, independent living, and access to additional care when needed. Before the Rockford native had left for Arizona nearly 20 years ago, she often visited friends at Peterson Meadows. Her choice to relocate there was an easy one.
Now eight months into her stay, the active senior loves the community and the conveniences available – not to mention the privacy she has when she wants it.
4444 Brendenwood Road, Rockford, Ill.
(815) 399-6167, www.sienaonbrendenwood.com
Siena on Brendenwood offers an active, independent lifestyle for its residents. While some obtain skilled nursing and home health care when needed, the focus here is on the opportunity to age in place with the availability of a wellness team and Siena staff.
The comprehensive wellness team consists of a registered nurse, home health care aides, an audiologist, a reflexologist and physical and occupational therapists. The team also includes a manicurist, pedicurist, yoga instructor, chair exercise instructors and the Siena Steppers Weekly Walking Team for active seniors.
“What’s unique about our community is our people – both residents and staff,” says Vinni Farrell, marketing director for Siena on Brendenwood. “Just walk through the door and the feeling of family is pervasive. It’s as if you are in your own home.”
The faith-based community provides all the amentities that most residents have had in their previous homes, and then some. The six floor plans of the 105 apartments offer several choices for spacious living and include full kitchens and in-suite washers and dryers. Courtyard apartments have balconies or patios overlooking the beautifully-manicured area where various social events take place. Fine dining, housekeeping and 24-hour security add to the independence and worry-free environment.
3470 N. Alpine Road, Rockford, Ill.
(815) 877-1441, www.fairhaven.cc
Tom Bleed, CEO of Fairhaven Christian Retirement Center, believes so strongly in what Fairhaven has to offer, that he plans on becoming the third generation of his family to live there. In 1976, Bleed’s grandmother moved in.
“As happens with many seniors who find themselves isolated and questioning how to live out the rest of their lives, my grandmother wondered whether she really had the will to live,” says Bleed. “Once my parents moved her into Fairhaven, it was her surroundings that motivated her to live.”
Bleed’s grandmother spent her time involved in many activities and even had a successful little business of knitting slippers and selling them. She lived to the remarkable age of 107.
4141 N. Rockton Ave., Rockford, Ill.
The possibility of giving up control over life choices can be a major stressor for those in the Third and Fourth Ages. The administration at Wesley Willows, a 234-acre continuing care retirement community, recognized this, and implemented the Resident-driven Program to help residents maintain some control as they move through this part of life’s journey.
“The residents are empowered and take charge, instead of management telling the residents what will be offered in the way of activities, events and amenities,” says Bill Pratt, CEO. He recalls a couple of residents coming to him with the idea of hosting a concert in the auditorium on campus. Now, eight concerts per year take place there, with some 250 people attending.
Residents created a garden space that’s used by more than 40 gardeners. The art studio offers basket weaving, woodcarving and watercolor painting – all initiated by resident feedback.