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Retirement communities open doors to public


Retired football coach John Sukenik believes in fitness. At 78, he swims in the pool several times a week and works out in the fitness center at Pleasant View Retirement Community. But he is not a resident at Pleasant View  “This is a great place, like being a member at my own exclusive club,” Sukenik says. He is one of a growing number of 55-plus people who enjoy the benefits of retirement community fitness centers and pools, even though they are not residents. Many retirement communities are finding that it benefits them and nonresident members.

Fitness is one attraction at local retirement communities for those who are not residents, but other communities are offering lifelong learning, special events, festivals and even child care services for nonresidents.

Inviting the general community into the retirement community has lots of benefits. For one, it is a great way for seniors to scope out possible future retirement living. They can swim at the pool, exercise in the gym, eat at the café or snack bar and get to know what living there might be like. Various learning programs and events like the Strawberry Festival at Luther Acres allow nonresidents to enjoy learning something new or getting a “taste” of the retirement community.

At Landis Homes, an adult education program called Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning is open to residents and nonresidents 55 and older. The program strives to meaningfully exercise the talents and abilities of older adults, and recognizes the wealth of resources they have to celebrate, discover and share.  “There are a variety of educational programs which offer classes and unique learning opportunities on a wide range of topics,” says Deborah Laws-Landis, community relations director of Landis Homes.

Landis Homes started as a retirement community for returning missionaries who served most or all of their lives in other places, Laws-Landis notes. They have a wealth of experiences to share, having lived in Africa, Asia and other distant lands. “Many potential residents find it helpful or get involved here by taking classes or volunteering before they move here,” she adds. There are art shows by residents and community members, along with festivals and other events. On a very practical level, Landis Homes offers adult day care services for those who cannot leave their elderly loved ones home alone. Often, the transition is made to becoming residents at Landis Homes, when home care is no longer workable.

At Moravian Manor, The Children’s Corner child care center provides child care for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. Of the 40 children currently enrolled, only seven are the children of employees. The rest are from the community in general. It has proven to offer a strong link between Moravian Manor and the Lititz community, but that wasn’t quite how it started.

“The Children’s Corner opened its doors in 1986 with a dual purpose in mind, to serve its employees with an on-site child care program and to provide intergenerational programming for our residents,” says MaryJane Hudock, Children’s Corner director.  Hudock and her staff have cared for many children in the community, with a few later becoming employees as teens or even working at the child care center as teachers or the retirement community as nurses or aides. “Residents and children alike are engaged in mutually enjoyed activities. Our primary goal during these shared experiences is to encourage a sense of community and connection among the generations at the Manor,” Hudock says.  The Children’s Corner is accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs and holds a four-star rating with Keystone Stars.  “As the circle of life evolves at the Manor, I can think of no better way to remain forever young,” Hudock says.

While kids enjoy spending time on the beautiful grounds of many of the local retirement communities, people in their 40s, 50s and 60s are enjoying the benefits of “retirement” living as visiting members. “I’m only in my 60s, but I love coming to Pleasant View,” says member Jeannine May. “I bring my grandchildren and they love it. The facilities are wonderful, the pool is nice and quiet, and I would consider living here when I am older, much older.”

Amanda Hall, sales and marketing director at Pleasant View, notes that a large number of nonresidents have joined the health club. They get to enjoy the pool, fitness center, indoor golf range and other facilities in a setting that is less hectic and more relaxed. A variety of membership options are available, Hall says, including free membership for those who have Silver & Fit or Silver Sneakers memberships through their health insurance plans. There are also some classes open to those 16 and older.

Other retirement communities, like Brethren Village and Masonic Village offer wellness programs and facilities to nonmembers. “For a nominal fee, we offer programs like arthritis class, aerobics class and open swim,” says Neil Fair, wellness director at Brethren Village. Nonresidents can also benefit from the warm water pool that soothes aching joints and the fitness center that is designed for older exercisers.  The arthritis class, developed by the Arthritis Foundation, is a warm water exercise program for people with arthritis and related conditions. The class is designed to reduce fatigue, pain and stiffness, while improving mobility, muscle strength and coordination.