Fostering a Family of Friends at Riderwood

January 17, 2023

At Riderwood, the Erickson Senior Living community in Silver Spring, Md., residents thrive off of the strong relationships they build through clubs, activities, and day-to-day interactions on campus.

"Having enjoyable social connections is an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of personal health and well-being," says Dr. Matt Narrett, chief medical officer at Erickson Senior Living. "From a robust calendar of events and dozens of clubs to sharing a meal together with friends, our communities are designed to maximize social engagement opportunities."

Sulocha and Gregory Fernandopulle, who moved to Riderwood ten years ago, couldn't agree more.

Blending past and present

When exploring their senior living options, the Fernandopulles were looking for a community that offered a healthy balance between maintaining old connections and fostering new friendships.

"We still live a lot of our life outside of Riderwood because our friends and relatives are in the area," says Sulocha. "That's why we didn't move to Boston or San Francisco--we wanted to stay near where we've always lived."

The unpredictability of the future was another thing that the couple considered.

"We did not want to be a burden to our kids. If we moved to where they are, we would tie them down," explains Sulocha. At Riderwood, a continuing care retirement community, they'll receive quality care and attention, if or when we need it.

Now, the Fernandopulles truly have the best of both worlds. Between catching up with longtime friends and pursuing their interests with new neighbors, their calendars are packed to the brim.

Diving right in

Almost immediately following their move, the couple began signing up for clubs and participating in a variety of activities.

"It's so important to get involved in the things you enjoy," says Sulocha. "It's also a great way to meet new people. Riderwood is one of the friendliest places on earth!"

Sulocha belongs to the '40s Club and the computer club, volunteers with the Riderwood Catholic community, and helps with the performing arts productions. And, eager to share her family's traditions with others, Sulocha recently started a South Asian Club.

"At Riderwood, there is so much camaraderie and sharing. It inspired me," she says.

The club meets once a month to enjoy a potluck meal together. 

"Everyone brings a dish they like," says Sulocha. "We spend the time talking and identifying ways in which we can help each other. It's a great example of the support system here at Riderwood. Your neighbors become like family."

Just like family

And in the Fernandopulles' case, sometimes your neighbors are your family. Recently, the couple was joined by Sulocha's cousin and his wife.

"We grew up together, seeing each other on holidays, and now he's right here in the next building over," she says. "We introduced them to our friends, and now they are getting to know people at the activities they enjoy."

Driven to welcome new residents as they were greeted, with kindness and warmth, Sulocha and Gregory take the time to learn everyone's name.

"We make it a point to greet everyone," says Sulocha. "Everyone here is very friendly. When someone new arrives, we ask questions--trying to find out where they are from and what their interests are--to steer them to different clubs and activities. They become family, too!"

Support system

Sulocha also volunteers with Riderwood's Call to Community program. As a floor coordinator, she reaches out to each person who moves in on her floor. 

"I leave a little something on the shelf outside their door, either a bottle of wine or cookies, with my phone number," she says. "Then, a week later, I reach out, introducing myself and finding out how I can make them feel the most welcome. I really want them to feel at home right away."

The support system at Riderwood, notes Sulocha, has had a positive impact on her overall well-being.

"We are all here for each other," says Sulocha. "Whether you are sick or need a ride to the grocery store, neighbors are willing to help. Whatever you are facing in life, one of your neighbors has experienced something similar. That type of support is comforting."

She adds, "If I could share one piece of advice, it would be to move to Riderwood so you can take part in all of the activities. You will be amazed at the wonderful people you will soon call friends."

Invest in your future at Riderwood. From top-notch amenities and activities to affordable, maintenance-free apartment homes, you'll enjoy living your retirement to the fullest. Request more information today!