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From L to R: Al and Myra Earley, The Forum at Brookside Sales Director Kathy Embry, Joyce White, and Jimmy York. All of these residents are on The Forum’s hospitality committee, who welcomes prospective and new residents to The Forum.
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For some people, the idea of moving into a retirement community evokes memories from childhood of visiting a sick grandparent in a nursing home. The images our brains conjure may be dark or shadowy. We may remember hospital-type beds and a disinfectant aroma. It is for this reason that seniors may be hesitant to even consider the possibility of moving into a retirement community.
Being a senior in the 21st century doesn’t look like what it did in the 1960s and ’70s, nor do the places where seniors are now choosing to live. Being an older adult can be the most freeing and fun time of our lives. Independent living retirement communities, including Brownsboro Park, Lake Forest Village, and The Forum at Brookside, are structured to satisfy the needs of modern seniors who are focused on independence and engagement.
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Brownsboro Park Executive Director Kelli Tyler (center) enjoys some social time with residents Jessie Romine (left) and Nancy Quinley.
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From L to R: Lake Forest Village residents Jan, Damian (in wheelchair), Ron, Lake Forest Village Live-In Manager Dale Mowery, and resident Connie.
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The reasons for moving into an independent living community are as varied as the people who live in them. Some people move because they have lost a spouse. “Many people desire socialization. Often their social circle has diminished, and they find themselves lonely and isolated,” says Kathy Embry, sales director at The Forum at Brookside.
Some seniors move because they are physically unable to do home maintenance and lawn care, while others move because they no longer want to deal with these responsibilities. “Here at Lake Forest Village, we have created a lifestyle where you can spend your time doing the things you want to do and not spend your time with all of the things you feel you have to do like cooking, cleaning, yard work, and paying bills,” says Dale Mowery, live-in manager at Lake Forest Village.
Kelli Tyler, executive director of Brownsboro Park, says, “Moving to an independent living community allows a person to remain independent. Sometimes at home, housekeeping, cooking, and driving become more difficult, and we can take care of those things, which keeps you independent.” If anything, moving to an independent living apartment or villa might bring about a sense of liberation.
Once the decision has been made to move, a senior may feel overwhelmed with the variety of independent living communities in Louisville. While they share many similarities, such as offering housekeeping and providing meals, they also do things a little differently from each other to set themselves apart.
Kelli thinks being privately owned and operated for over three decades makes Brownsboro Park stand out. “This community runs like a family, not a business. What this means for our residents is stability and quick resolutions to suggestions and ideas,” she says.
The long-term commitment of employees to The Forum at Brookside makes it unique, according to Kathy. “The longevity of the management staff is extraordinary. Our new executive director Sara Shaw has been in various departments for 30 years. Many of the department managers and even hourly employees have been employed with The Forum for 10, 15, and 20 years,” she says.
Dale says the upscale and all-inclusive nature of Lake Forest Village is what sets it apart. Some high-end resort-type communities have a buy-in fee, but Lake Forest Village differs. “We are a month-to-month lease community,” he says. If a resident finds that Lake Forest Village is not for him or her, a 30-day notice is all that is needed to void the lease.
The one thing independent living communities have in common is their desire to welcome residents but not push them into doing social activities they don’t wish to do. “You can be as busy as you want to be or as private as you want to be,” Kathy says. Introverts don’t have to fear that they will be forced to participate when they have no desire to do so. Independent living communities offer many social activities, but they are certainly not required. “We’re not going to keep harping on people to join in, but we’re always going to greet them with a smile to let them know we’re glad they’re here,” Dale says.
Most activities directors meet with new seniors to get a sense of who they are, whether they are extroverted or introverted, and where their interests lie. “We pair each new resident with someone who has the same interests to help get them involved and meet people,” says Kelli, which is nice for individuals who don’t feel comfortable in large groups.
Part of building relationships means offering residents varied opportunities to socialize and be engaged. Brownsboro Park, Lake Forest Village, and The Forum at Brookside offer activities and events that would put cruise ships to shame.
“We’ve got a wine club that travels around the state to different wineries for tastings, which has been so much fun. We also have a gourmet food club,” Kelli says. Brownsboro Park also offers a science class once a month, as well as a watercolor class taught by an artist-resident.
“We do happy hour twice a week, and with us being in Kentucky and the bourbon world, that’s a big event for us,” Dale says. Lake Forest Village also has a 150-seat theater, which shows a midday matinee and an evening movie.
The Forum at Brookside offers lectures three times a week on some pretty heady topics, such as marine mammal intelligence and the Renaissance. “A heated indoor pool with Aqua Fitness classes is also popular,” Kathy says.
Seniors may wonder whether an independent living community is a good idea because they don’t know what the future holds for their physical health. All three communities have procedures and resources in place to help residents who begin to experience temporary or permanent declines. Home Instead Senior Care works closely with Brownsboro Park to help with assisted living services. Kelli says some residents have had Hosparus Health in during their last days. If a resident ends up needing more specialized care, Kelli works with the families to navigate that process.
The Forum at Brookside works closely with Helping Hands to offer bathing, dressing, medication reminders, escorts, and even dog-walking services, although a resident can choose whichever care service company he or she wishes. Right At Home has an office in the Lake Forest Village complex to assist residents who need a little extra attention, although Lake Forest Village also works with Caretenders, Kindred at Home, and others.
Because Lake Forest Village opened so recently (in November 2018), its landscaping hasn’t had an opportunity to mature, but it offers a patio area with a fire pit, tables, chairs, and a sound system. Its proximity to Lake Forest means residents can easily enjoy a neighborhood-feel while biking or walking. Brownsboro Park’s 14 acres includes a fishing pond, where an annual fishing tournament is held. Its campus is also the site of Art in the Park, which will celebrate its 10th year in the fall. The Forum at Brookside sits on a 40-acre campus, which includes a walking trail and gazebo.
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