Russ and Millie Woda moved into Franklin Park Independent Living Community at Sonterra in 2016. They never imagined that four years later they would be living safely with their neighbors in the middle of a global health pandemic. But here they are and thriving.
The Wodas, now 89 and 87 years of age, respectively, chose to move into a senior retirement community because they wanted a home with amenities and conveniences without the hassles of home ownership. They also wanted to remain close to their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, all who live within 15 miles, but they wanted independent lives for themselves and their family.
“We didn’t need a big house anymore. We loved our home, but from the moment we moved in here, we have enjoyed being here. This is home,” Russ said. “We were well enough, and knew we wanted to make the transition so we could enjoy ourselves. Sometimes people wait too long, and the next thing they know, they are in assisted living. They don’t have time to enjoy their retirement.”
According to American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), maintaining independence is important for people as they age. ASHA also states that losing their independence is one of the biggest fears that seniors have. An overwhelming majority want to remain in their houses – and understandably so. But the reality is that 1 in 5 U.S. adults age 85 and older say they either need or currently receive help with daily living activities.
Franklin Park senior living communities are designed to respect and honor the dignity of all residents by offering independent living, assisted living, and memory care options based on their needs. It is important for families to evaluate the specific needs of seniors looking to make this transition and understand the nuances of the senior living options available.
Independent living communities maximize the self-sufficiency and self determination of seniors to live in their own home, and interact and engage in a community that make their residents’ day-to-day lives a bit easier, thus enabling them to live on their own for as long as possible. These amenities help minimize residents’ daily responsibilities and often include landscaping, laundry, housekeeping, and transportation services, as well as on-site dining facilities, security surveillance, and activities or events.
“We have other people here. Neighborhoods do not communicate the way they did years ago,” Millie said. “You never really see your neighbors these days unless you are out doing yard work or going to the mailbox. But here, you see your friends and neighbors, and can easily have them over or meet with them in the game room or at cocktail hour, and even have dinner together.”
Despite the restrictions put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, and the Bexar County Health Department to protect the residents at the senior living and retirement community from COVID- 19, the Wodas are concerned about the pandemic in general, but feel safe in their home.
“Because Franklin Park communicated and shut things down immediately, we knew we were safe,” Millie said. “But things are relaxing. And we know they will continue to do what is needed if it gets worse again.”
“I don’t want to say don’t worry about the pandemic, but as far as living here, for us, it’s great,” added Russ. “We are free to leave our apartment, as well as the community, and when we do, we put on our masks.” Some senior living communities offer independent living, assisted living and other higher levels of senior care all on the same campus to allow residents to easily transition between settings as their needs change, and Franklin Park is no different.
Assisted living communities provide personalized, higher-level care needed for daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and taking medications in a residential setting that encourages a healthy lifestyle and social engagement. While assisted living communities do not provide intensive hands-on care or skilled nursing care, staff members, including a certified nurse practitioner, are onsite 24 hours a day.
Trying to find the best living option for yourself or an aging family member can be challenging and seem overwhelming at times, but with the right information, it does not have to be. For those making their first move into a senior living community, independent living or assisted living are generally the first options to explore. Fortunately, senior living communities, such as Franklin Park, are an excellent solution for both aging adults and family caregivers looking to find a healthy and tranquil balance. For more information on Franklin Park properties in San Antonio, please visit franklinpark.org.
BY JILL BYRD
This article was originally published in the Nov/Dec issue of San Antonio Woman magazine and on SanAntonioWoman.com.