An Inclusive Environment: Two Couples with Similar Goals Join The Grandview's Priority List

By Gregory J. Alexander
October 13, 2023
Priority List Members find The Grandview, the future community in Bethesda, Maryland, a compelling choice to move.

When Leon Nisenfeld and Jim Silva began looking at retirement communities, location was among their top priorities.

"We love our neighbors! We wanted to stay in Bethesda so that we can continue getting together with them," Jim says. That's one reason they were happy to see that The Grandview, an Erickson Senior Living community under construction in Bethesda, Md., is just a short distance from where they live now.

"We will be able to bike to our neighborhood from The Grandview. It's important to us to keep the connections we have," says Leon.

A few years ago, the couple considered selling their house and moving to a condominium. "We thought it would be nice to just lock the door and go on vacation," recalls Jim. "But now, with The Grandview, it will be like moving into a high-rise condo with all the extras!"

In 2022, they heard that a new continuing care retirement community (CCRC) was coming to Bethesda. As a CCRC, The Grandview will offer additional levels of health care on site once the community's master plan is complete, if and when they are needed.

"We don't have kids to take care of us as we age, so we really need a built-in support network," says Jim, who was already familiar with Erickson Senior Living. "My mother lived at Riderwood [an Erickson community in Silver Spring, Md.] We went to the sales center, met with Sales Counselor Debbie Brumbach, and joined the priority list."

With a $1,000 priority list deposit, Leon and Jim gained right of first refusal on their desired apartment home.

"We wanted to have first dibs on which apartment home we liked," says Leon. "It was really a win-win, in that we weren't going to lose the deposit if we changed our minds--since it's refundable. We've already 'staked our claim' on our preferred floor plan and location within the building!"

The importance of inclusion

During their meeting with Brumbach, Leon and Jim asked about Erickson Senior Living's LGBTQIA+ inclusion efforts. "It's important for us to not go somewhere where we are not wanted," says Jim.

"We are not going back in the closet," Leon concurs.

They were impressed to learn that Erickson Senior Living is pursuing SAGECare certification, which aims to create a more welcoming environment for LGBTQIA+ elders through a cultural competency training program.

Upon asking if there were any other gay people on the priority list, Leon and Jim were connected with another couple, Howard Menaker and Patrick Gossett. "We had dinner and hit it off!" says Jim.

Leon, who is enthusiastic about the social groups already forming among The Grandview's priority list members, has already signed up for the computer/I.T. and photography groups to make more new friends.

"I reached out to the leader of the photography group, and she asked for some background on me. I sent her a link to my photo site, and she shared hers. She has traveled all over the world, and her photos are very impressive," he says.

Howard and Patrick were also attracted to The Grandview's unrivaled location.

"We have had friends relocate to Florida, but we did not want to start all over and have to make new friends and find new doctors, theaters, and restaurants," notes Howard. "Patrick was born in Washington, D.C., and I moved here 44 years ago. This is home."

Making new friends

Erickson Senior Living's commitment to creating welcoming, inclusive communities was another draw for Howard and Patrick.

"We have read about older LGBTQA+ couples who have been out their entire lives, and then they move into a retirement community and go back in the closet because they don't feel welcome," says Howard.

"That was on our mind, so we expressed it to [Sales Director] George Mishraky. He let us know that there was another gay couple on the priority list. We had dinner together, and we instantly knew we had found friends."

"Our motivation for getting on the priority list is that it preserves our options and secures our place," says Howard. "We are not ready to move tomorrow, but we don't want to wait until we have to move at the last minute."

Patrick likes the fact that The Grandview will be a brand-new, high-rise building. He also appreciates that residents will be moving in around the same time. "It'll be nice to create a community together," says Patrick.

"We love living in Washington, D.C., because there is diversity in terms of backgrounds and interests. The Grandview will likely draw from the D.C. area, so we look forward to connecting with more people," adds Howard.

To learn more about senior living at The Grandview, request your free brochure to get the scoop on amenities, floor plans, and so much more.