Children of Shannondell Residents Share Their Stories
Children of current Shannondell residents have walked in your steps. They’ve had the awkward discussions with their parents. Dealt with the reluctance and hesitation. They’re familiar with the range of emotions. But most importantly, these children are willing to share their experiences in the hopes that what they encountered might help you, as you work through the same process with your parent(s).
Click on the story title below to reveal the story.
When taking care of a family home – a large colonial and pool on half an acre – became too much for Mom (and my sister and I) to manage, we began looking at options.
One option was to add onto my current family home to accommodate my mother. But she quickly responded to that idea with, “Why don’t you move your family into my home.” Although I loved growing up in the house, I was now settled into my own. So, we ended up where many adult children and their aging parents arrive – looking at retirement communities near Philadelphia.
I actually leaned toward this choice as Mom is, and has always been, a very social person. She loves playing cards, Scrabble and attending movies and shows with friends. So off we went, Mom and me, touring nearby communities. We had looked at several and were feeling underwhelmed, to say the least, before arriving at Shannondell at Valley Forge.
I’m glad we looked at the others first. It helped both of us to quickly see why Shannondell is in a class by itself. First, there’s the quality of the entire place, inside and outside. The clubhouses, the residences and grounds are impeccable. And the performing arts theater rivals Broadway, I kid you not.
But what also struck us is the people – residents and staff. They seemed happier, friendlier than those at other communities. Residents also seemed more active … shooting pool, playing cards, swimming, doing yoga, reading, etc. each time we visited. Shannondell just had a vibe to it that felt good, healthy.
So, choosing Shannondell over the others became an easy decision. What was harder was letting go of our family home. I’m sure this is typical, both for parents and their children. Even though you know you’re helping your parents make the right decision, for all the right reasons, it’s still tough. But, what makes it easier is the help that you receive from Shannondell.
Once Mom picked out her new first floor residence, including an outdoor terrace, Shannondell provided a real estate manager who worked with our chosen agent to price and market my mother’s home. They also provided a professional interior designer who visited Mom in her family home, measured furniture and helped her to decide which pieces she wanted to bring to Shannondell and where each piece would fit best in her new place. This was a huge help to my sister and me. Finally, there’s the unpacking service, also provided by Shannondell. We were able to have all of my mother’s things unpacked and put away in a single day so when she moved in the next day, in her words, “It feels like home.” Talk about making it all worthwhile!
Now, I no longer lie awake worrying if my mother’s fine. I know if she doesn’t check in daily from her residence, that Shannondell will send someone to check on her. And should Mom ever need additional help such as personal care, rehab or skilled nursing, it’s all right next door and top notch.
But most of all, it’s comforting to know that Mom is back to having fun with our families and also new friends, playing cards, Scrabble, going to the pool and attending the theater – and that never-ending family home “fix it” list is now a thing of the past. Thanks Mom!
My mother’s a young “80.” Although she’s fourscore on paper, she acts and feels like she’s sixty. She might even say fifty. It’s this youthful self-image that’s partly to blame for my mother’s reaction two years ago when my husband and I accompanied her to look at nearby retirement communities, including Shannondell.
“Not interested,” she was quick to say.
I’ve now learned that this reaction is part of her generation’s innate age denial mindset, but at the time it struck my husband and me as odd given our positive reaction to the overall quality of Shannondell and its residents and staff.
But Mom wasn’t having any of it. She loved her townhome even though she lived alone after my father passed away. And for the time being, she was staying put.
I continued to try and educate myself on the nuances of retirement living and distinctions between, say, Life Care and continuing care, including the deluge of jargon like “fee for service” and “refundable entrance fees.” You’d think, after all of this research, that I would have been able to steer Mom in one direction or the other. But the simple truth, I’ve also learned, is two-fold: first and foremost you’re not ready until you’re ready and, secondly, people are much more likely to respond to a community vibe that they’re attracted to, when visiting, than reams of data garnered from a lengthy process of discovery (sigh).
Such was the case with Mom. In fact, it was our third visit to Shannondell when she “saw the light.” All of a sudden, she became more inquisitive, curious about available residences and what they looked like. She even stopped and spoke with a few residents during the tour. And just like that, smiles replaced glares and Mom’s moving to Shannondell.
Later, I asked Mom what had changed her mind. One – several of her friends had also chosen to move to Shannondell. Two – enduring the hardships of another Philadelphia winter, alone, got to her. And lastly she replied, “I never, again, have to worry about what a sump pump does.” I chuckled.
Now at Shannondell, when a light goes out over the stove, she picks up the phone and calls maintenance. And before she heads down for the next meal, it’s all fixed. I call that “easy living.”
Shannondell also made it easy to move Mom. An interior designer, provided by Shannondell, came and took pictures of mother’s furnishings and helped us determine where everything fit in Mom’s new place. So, on move-in day, when most people are fretting over what goes where and what’s in this box and that box, we were treated to lunch while professional un-packers – both provided by Shannondell – sweated the details of making Mom’s home feel like home. Honestly, I don’t think we could have done it without their help.
Today, Mom’s a flurry of activity at Shannondell. She recently took her first ever billiards lesson. The putting green has become a favorite. She’s even taking fitness classes for the first time in her life. But her most talked about activity is attending concerts and plays at the Shannondell Performing Arts Theater with friends. All I can say is, “Bravo Mom, bravo!”
Both of my parents were still working up until the time my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Unfortunately, she succumbed within months. The shock to our family was huge, particularly for my father.
Fortunately, my family lives close to my parent’s home so we were able to see each other often. After my mom passed away, Dad started coming to our house after work for dinner. At first, it was comforting for all. But after a year and a half, my husband and I realized that this wasn’t healthy for Dad or our family. I think my father sensed this too.
Dad needed more socialization other than his work and our family dinners. He also needed a living environment that was safer and easier to navigate with his aging joints. He needed to consider other living options. But, like many his age, he was less than thrilled with the idea of moving out of his long-time family home, particularly to a retirement community.
I remember the first time we brought up the subject with Dad and mentioned Shannondell. His reply, likely all too common, was, “I’m too young for a nursing home.” Being familiar with Shannondell and other area CCRCs, my husband and I knew that the community was, first and foremost, a vibrant community for active, independent adults, including a few who also still work. We also knew a family friend who had recently helped his mother choose and move to Shannondell. He encouraged us to take Dad to have a look.
When I first spoke with Theresa at Shannondell, she suggested that we bring Dad for dinner, a short tour and stay for a performance in the Performing Arts Theater after. As it turned out, an actor that we enjoy at the Walnut Street Theater was performing, so we managed to convince Dad to join us.
The afternoon we arrived at Shannondell Dad was like “a deer in the headlights.” The incredible dinner. The nice residents that came up to us and introduced themselves. The quality of the clubhouses … and the performing arts theater … it was truly overwhelming. Dad’s response, “It’s like being on a cruise ship,” to which my husband and I replied, “And what’s wrong with that?”
But Dad remained hesitant. Emotions tied to the family home were strong, as they should be. The breaking point for Dad was enduring another harsh Philadelphia winter, this one wave after wave of snow, ice and cold. He called to say he’d had enough, alone at home. He was ready to move to Shannondell.
Dad chose his Shannondell residence, close to one of the two clubhouses, in January and moved in at the end of March. The real estate manager at Shannondell not only helped Dad find a realtor and sell his home, but Shannondell also provided interior planning assistance. The head designer who works with Shannondell residents, visited my father’s home, measured furnishings, helped him prioritize items and developed a floor plan. Her design team even helped Dad locate a few new pieces that he loves.
When we had dinner at Shannondell with Dad, recently, he was quick to introduce us to new friends and neighbors. And this from a man who claims, “I don’t make friends easily.” I guess we’re all resistant to change. But isn’t it wonderful when we break out of our comfort zones and end up in a better place. It is for Dad and for our family. And I can’t thank Shannondell enough.