Caroline Summer thrives on intellectual stimulation and interesting conversation.
Her dual careers as an English professor at the University of California at Berkeley and a psychotherapist in private practice ensured plenty of both. She looked forward to retirement as a time when she could pursue her many volunteer activities, read and travel.
Then she became ill.
“Suddenly, I was spending hours and hours alone in my house,” she says. “Because I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t get to church or out to visit with others. Needless to say, I was bored and depressed.”
Her two grown sons and their families lived nearby and visited often. But Summer wanted to remain as independent as possible. “I didn’t want to depend on them,” she says. “I know they have busy lives of their own.”
Early this year, Summer began searching for a retirement community. In the beginning, she was not encouraged. “I’m a natural extrovert,” she says. “And a lot of the communities I visited didn’t have much to offer. In some places, the only activity was bingo, and that didn’t interest me at all.”
By February, she was beginning to lose hope of finding a community that would meet her needs. When an acquaintance recommended Grand Lake Gardens, an ABHOW community in Oakland, Calif., Summer decided to visit.
Summer knew immediately that something was different. “Here, residents were sharing vibrant conversation at meal times. They welcomed me right away, and were as interested in sharing their lives and experiences as they were about hearing mine. There were many activities and lots of opportunities to get involved. I knew this was the right fit for me,” she says.
In March, Summer moved to her new home at Grand Lake Gardens. Her social calendar already is teeming with activity.
As chair of the library committee and head of a new book club, her days are once again full of intellectual stimulation and interesting conversation. She also enjoys movie night and dramatic readings in the community theater, and takes part in an exercise class. In the future, she would like to get involved in the writers’ group as well.
“I feel like I’m myself again,” she says. “I really enjoy the people here and the conversations we share. I no longer feel bored. I no longer feel desperate. I know I made the absolute best choice for me.”
Founded in 1949, ABHOW is widely known for its pioneering leadership in senior housing and health care. The company serves more than 5,000 residents in 42 retirement communities in California, Arizona, Nevada and Washington.
To learn more about ABHOW visit www.abhow.com.
This article appears in the May 2012 issue of ABHOW Words.