Houston, Texas--For Philip and Carol Peter, the past three years have been marked with change.
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey flooded the couple's Meyerland home, forcing them to temporarily relocate to an apartment near Houston's medical center.
"We were already planning to move to Eagle's Trace [the Erickson Living developed and managed senior living community in West Houston] when our home flooded," says Philip, a retired neurosurgeon. "Ultimately, we ended up moving to Eagle's Trace earlier than anticipated."
Despite the tough circumstances surrounding their move, it didn't take long for Philip and Carol to embrace a new lifestyle at Eagle's Trace, enjoying happy hours with friends and neighbors, participating in the community's more than 100 resident-run clubs and activities, and relishing the freedom to lock their door and go when they wanted to travel.
Then came March 2020, when concerns about the escalating spread of COVID-19 brought stay-at-home mandates from state and local leaders. Operations at Eagle's Trace changed swiftly, as the leadership team asked residents to stay in their apartments. Staff took on new roles, delivering meals, mail, packages, and essential items to residents.
Through it all, Philip and Carol say the qualities that helped them through Harvey's devastation were the ones they relied on in quarantine.
"You have to deal with life's setbacks as they come and make the best of them," says Philip. "I think that's what you see here at Eagle's Trace. We're a population that's lived through enough to know that ups and downs are part of life. When it's hard, you buckle in and wait for better times."
Resiliency and hope were the touchstones that kept residents and staff working together and moving forward in unprecedented circumstances.
"I'm thankful for the patience, flexibility, and understanding of everyone who lives and works at Eagle's Trace," says Executive Director Stephen Aigner. "We've been in unique situations in recent years, first with Hurricane Harvey three years ago, and now with the coronavirus threat. Our team continues to do an amazing job under difficult circumstances."
Successful stay-at-home experience
As staff adapted to new roles outside the scope of their normal responsibilities, residents adjusted to a new normal, finding ways to stay connected while physically separated.
"The technical advances we've enjoyed over the past 30 years are still here," says Philip. "They're not removed because of the coronavirus."
Philip and Carol enjoyed virtual five o'clock happy hours with friends using FaceTime. They found three new television series to watch. And with the benefit of 53 years of marriage, they knew how to balance togetherness and alone time.
"We've been married a long time," says Philip. "I've learned that when Carol's enjoying a book, I'll spend some time on the internet. We know how important it is to respect each other's down time."
As for the staff's response, the couple says they're in good hands.
"Having come in after Harvey, the consideration given us by the administration was fantastic," says Philip. "Their response this time has been the same. Every single measure they implemented was for our benefit. That gives us a lot of comfort, because we know our health and welfare are uppermost in their minds."
Peace of mind
Sharon Francis also moved to Eagle's Trace after her home of 25 years in Houston's Bear Creek Village neighborhood flooded during Hurricane Harvey.
"With Harvey, I felt like the rug had been taken out from under me," says Sharon. "At Eagle's Trace, I feel like I'm on a solid foundation. There's a group of people looking out for me and taking care of me."
And while Sharon says she's had to draw on the same qualities of strength and perseverance in both instances, she says the peace of mind she felt at Eagle's Trace sustained her through the stay-at-home experience.
"Harvey was the worst experience," says Sharon. "Being quarantined didn't seem nearly as bad by comparison."
Sharon says the difference lies with the administration's response.
"Management has exceeded my expectations," she says. "They're always one step ahead of what needs to be done. Not only that, they've thought of everything they can to make us feel more comfortable and restore as much of our lives as they can to normal. This is the best place to be in these circumstances."
About Eagle's Trace: Eagle's Trace, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 72-acre campus in West Houston, Texas. The not-for-profit community of more than 960 residents and 500 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight. Additional information can be found at EaglesTraceCommunity.com.
Written by Sara Martin