Parkville, Maryland--In 2016, Kathy and George Wilson sold their townhome in Carney and moved to Oak Crest, an Erickson Living retirement community in neighboring Parkville. Although they're now just a few minutes down the road from their former home, their new lifestyle is miles apart.
"We will be here four years in June, and we love it! We feel like we are on a cruise. When we lived at our house, we mostly spent our days working in the garden or doing chores. Now we are involved in so many activities," says Kathy.
Kathy and George volunteer as ambassadors for the community, sharing their experience with prospective residents. George attends on-site yoga classes. Kathy serves on the Oak Crest Welcome Committee, volunteers at the Treasure Chest and serves on Oak Crest's Catholic Faith Community Council.
"There are so many things here it's impossible to do them all. Dances, photography, cornhole, a bocce ball league—you name it, we have it—and if not, then you can start a new group. It's totally up to you what you get involved in," describes Kathy.
Consistent social interaction, like dining with neighbors, participating in clubs and volunteering, is a significant benefit of living at Oak Crest. These opportunities promote healthier living and longevity.
"The people here are so friendly. George used to be shy and quiet. Since we have been here, he's really come out of his shell," notes Kathy.
Recent research demonstrates that an active social life and close personal relationships can contribute to good health, both in adolescence and as we age, and that staying socially active is one cornerstone of healthy aging.
A national study also found that seniors who live in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) enjoy greater levels of wellness than older adults in home-based settings due to the abundance of social interaction. More than two-thirds of the residents surveyed said that moving to a CCRC "somewhat or greatly improved" their social wellness, a concept that encompasses a person's sense of connectedness and belonging within their community.
"Leading an active lifestyle is a primary attraction for people moving to Oak Crest," states Nadine Wellington, community resources manager. "We have approximately 200 clubs plus a monthly calendar featuring over 1,000 opportunities to get involved. There is really something for everyone, and, if you have an interest that isn't represented, we encourage and equip residents to launch a new endeavor."
According to Mrs. Wellington, the continual influx of new people moving to Oak Crest aids in the rapid input of fresh ideas.
"Many new residents are eager to jump right in," says Mrs. Wellington. "For example, a resident launched a show on the in-house television station specifically designed to introduce new residents to the community. Others have joined planning committees for events such as casino night, the annual gala and the country fair. Many residents will also volunteer during the elections. In fact, so many people have connected since moving to Oak Crest, I'd run out of space if I tried to list them all."
For service-minded individuals who prefer not to participate in formal clubs and planned activities, there are volunteer opportunities both on campus and in the greater community such as mentoring students with their reading, donating homemade meals for local charities and knitting blankets for local hospitals.
According to a 2016 Freddie Mac 55-plus survey, an amenity-rich community was one of the most important factors influencing Baby Boomers who are exploring senior living options. Affordability, a maintenance-free living environment and walkability were also listed.
All apartment homes at Oak Crest are within walking distance of three clubhouses where residents can do their banking, shop, get a haircut, take a college class, meet friends for a drink or a bite to eat in one of eight restaurants, exercise at the fitness center or grab a book from the library.
Kelly Friend, a sales counselor with Oak Crest, says easy access to activities and amenities is a big factor for prospective residents.
"Being able to see a movie or go to a dance without leaving the campus is an attractive feature for many people," states Ms. Friend. "Residents also appreciate the ability to dine with their peers or go on trips with people who enjoy similar interests. This level of engagement sets Oak Crest apart from other retirement communities in the area."
Looking back, Kathy and George are confident in their decision to move to Oak Crest.
"We love it here! We have met so many nice people and made a lot of friends," says Kathy. "The only regret we have is that we didn't move sooner."
About Oak Crest: Oak Crest, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 87-acre campus in Parkville, Maryland. The not-for-profit community of more than 2,100 residents and 1,250 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Oak Crest. Additional information can be found at OakCrestCommunity.com.