Lifecare in a senior community can mean different things to different people. For some it may mean security, having that peace of mind knowing they will always be provided for regardless of what may lie ahead. For others it means having a ready-made community, so they need not fear being alone and isolated. I’ve heard people say, “It’s like a cruise ship at times with all the food and fun that is so easily accessible.” But there is an additional component found in the faith-based senior community, offering a certain something that I’ve been challenged to put into words. A former boss of mine used to refer to such things as the secret sauce, the little something added to make bland special.
It’s more than brick and mortar. For instance, at Ridgecrest we have the Koning Chapel, which is an amazing place offering space, not only for church services and prayer, but also for programming, events, and a variety of other gatherings. I asked Ridgecrest Chaplain, Chaplain Doug Shook, his thoughts on working in a faith-based retirement community. He responded, “People are at a point in their lives when there is a natural question of what’s next. Some know and some are still searching. It’s a privilege to help them on their spiritual journey, regardless of their faith or belief system . . . the community creates a natural environment to seek and find.” He added, “God is at work here. I see it in the impromptu discussions that come from having a strong open-door policy.” Like Ridgecrest, most faith-based communities have people of varying degrees of spirituality residing on one campus. Chaplain Doug commented, “we are all spiritual beings regardless of formal belief system . . . something I celebrate, and I am committed to meeting people where they are at on their journey.”
Resident, Dick Sebeniecher commented, “We have lived here for 5 ½ years and we love being part of the community. One of the things we appreciate is being able to attend chapel services every week.” As we age, sometimes transportation and health make getting to weekly church services a challenge. Dick added, “And here you don’t have to give it up. For anyone who wants to go, they can go.” He added, “It’s so much more than a place . . . beyond the physical, it’s about being part of a community made up of people who care about each other and who love each other.”
For me, this is an ongoing quest for understanding. I find myself humbled at this point in my career when I’m just learning the true benefits of living (and, for some of us, working) in such a wonderful faith-based community. In lifecare communities there are long standing friendships, often spanning decades that can include friends, family, and employees. We recently celebrated the end of summer with a beach bash. It was a party with music, dancing, and refreshments. I couldn’t help but join in on the dancing, daring to embarrass myself in the spirit of the moment. When I wasn’t dancing, I was taking photos and watching on as I witnessed some of that secret sauce. There was a small group of residents dancing, surrounding one of their less mobile friends . . . engaging her and enticing her to feel the beat of the music. It was a testimonial of joy and love of neighbor and friend. Perhaps that is the best way to describe the richness of senior living in a lifecare community rooted in faith-based values. Love.
Julie Arndt is a licensed social worker and Director of Marketing at Ridgecrest Village with over 30 years’ experience working in the field of geriatrics and senior advocacy. She can be reached at email@example.com.