Value of connectedness promotes healthier living
Overland Park, Kan. – February 12, 2020 — Every Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., a group of residents at Tallgrass Creek, a senior living community developed and managed by Erickson Living®, gathers in the Sunflower Room. Soon, the sound of strumming chords fills the air, signaling the start of weekly practice for the enthusiastic ukulele players, who together make music on small, stringed instruments that go by the nickname "uke."
Resident Dick Yates and the late Bob Allen organized the group and from day one, the laughs have been as plentiful as the strumming. Bill Converse also leads the novice musicians who occasionally entertain at different events around the Overland Park community.
"Most of us only began playing when we moved to Tallgrass," says Bill. "We've actually gotten pretty good and the camaraderie is great."
Supporting social wellness
Tallgrass Creek's ukulele players are representative of today's active seniors who continue to explore new interests and develop new relationships during their retirement years.
A national leader in senior living, Erickson Living manages 20 retirement communities across the country, including Tallgrass Creek. Based on frequent surveys of prospective residents, Erickson has found that many report a high interest in physical, nutritional, and social wellness. As a result, they seek communities that offer a wide variety of fitness classes, healthy dining choices, and diverse activities and amenities.
Jeff Watson, Director of Operations at Erickson Living, notes there is great benefit living in neighborhoods such as Tallgrass Creek that promote these facets of overall wellness.
"One of the greatest things about living in community is that we draw joy and encouragement from the people around us," says Watson. "At any Erickson Living-managed community, we have hundreds of peers to appreciate and learn from, dozens of groups to join, and multiple causes to fuel."
As reported by Senior Housing News, national studies also support the power of community living. The Age Well Study recently showed that older adults living in active communities have greater levels of wellness than older adults in home-based settings, due in large part to the abundance of opportunities for social interaction.
Something for everyone
Based on his own experience, Tallgrass Creek Director of Sales Blake Marshall agrees and says many current residents say they're more socially and physically active than before they moved to the community.
"It's not surprising," says Marshall. "Our monthly activity calendar is more than 30 pages long. You can do as little or as much as you want but there is literally something for every interest."
The packed calendar details schedules for day trips, nature outings, restaurant gatherings, learning opportunities, happy hours, art classes, dances, outside speakers, special interest groups, dining experiences, philanthropic opportunities, entertainment, and more.
"You practically need a social secretary to keep track of it all," laughs resident Jan Meyer, who calls Tallgrass her "best move ever".
Fitness, friendship and fun
The calendar includes 28 group classes in the fitness center, as well as 10 aquatics classes each week that cater to all levels of ability. The classes have made a big difference to residents like Phil Carr who never attended group fitness classes before moving to Tallgrass Creek. He now participates several times a week in the Men's Only Strength Training classes taught by instructor Camin Bell.
"Camin's classes are always full and never boring," says Phil. "Not only do I get a good workout but I see my friends, socialize, and have a good laugh all at the same time."
Tallgrass Creek's experienced leadership team adds to the social connections with town hall meeting, casual coffee gatherings, holiday celebrations, concerts, and more. Coming soon is a lively "Dancing with the Stars" event which emulates the popular television program with both community and staff members participating.
"It'll be plenty of fun," laughs Resident Life Manager Jan Magee.
The three dining venues at Tallgrass Creek also add to the neighborly buzz each day. Whether grabbing coffee and a snack at Milo's Market, sharing lunch at the Sunflower Bistro, or dining in the Blue Sky Restaurant each evening, residents enjoy healthy, freshly cooked food from Tallgrass Creek's gleaming, restaurant-grade kitchen.
One of those residents is Judy Higginbotham, who moved to Tallgrass Creek in 2018.
"I thought it would take a while to meet people, but I was wrong," says Judy. "I met such great friends right away and still have dinner with them almost every evening. I look forward to it every day."
Community members enjoy choosing from about 20 healthy, cooked-to-order entree choices each evening along with multiple sides and dessert. Karen Cox says the dining program is one of many things that sets Tallgrass Creek apart.
"I would be shocked if any other senior living community has the number of healthy fresh choices, and different places to dine that we do," says Karen. "And everything is cooked just the way you like it. It's a big positive."
All in all, whether community members are dining with neighbors or enjoying the plethora of social, educational, or fitness opportunities at Tallgrass Creek, the community supports residents' ability to grow and balance across the seven dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental and occupational.
Bonnie Whalen and her husband Pat noticed that feeling of optimism and camaraderie when they chose Tallgrass Creek.
"We saw how active, friendly, and 'smiling' people were," says Bonnie. "There was just a general feeling of positivity that made a difference. We're so glad we're here."
Tallgrass Creek is a not-for-profit organization, developed and managed by Erickson Living®. The community is governed by its own board of directors affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community.
About Tallgrass Creek: Tallgrass Creek, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 65-acre campus in Overland Park, Kansas. The not-for-profit community of more than 500 residents and 350 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Additional information can be found at TallgrassCreek.com.
Photo Credit: Mary Bush
Photo Caption: Tallgrass Creek fitness instructor Camin Bell (center) leads the Men's Only Strength Training classes each week to a roomful of enthusiastic participants.