This past March, several residents and staff of Pennswood Village traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the American Society on Aging (ASA) 2016 Aging in America Conference.
Pennswood Village presented two different sessions at the conference, reporting its results of the significant efforts made by residents and staff over the years.
The conference, which attracts more than 3,000 people annually, is a gathering of practitioners, business professionals, foundation leaders, direct service providers, policymakers, researchers, academicians and others. Session topics range from innovative ideas and legislation, to programs and research, and other topics that promote active aging and health. While many different retirement communities attended the conference, Pennswood was the only community that we are aware of, where residents not only attended, but also led conference sessions—a testament to the community’s focus on resident-led initiatives and personal growth.
The very idea of downsizing from a single-family house to an apartment can send some people into a frenzy. Between choosing furniture, clothing, keepsakes, documents, collectables, and more, it can seem like an overwhelming task.
But, there’s no need to fear! The process can be broken down into manageable bite-sized bits. Even those with the fullest of houses (or farms!) can complete the task at hand, and instead of downsizing, you’ll be ‘rightsizing’ into your new retirement lifestyle.
Rightsizing refers to a positive downsizing experience that puts the focus on what you will gain in the process, such as more time to pursue your interests, hobbies, and passions. Instead of spending your time managing and maintaining a house, you’ll be free to spend your time traveling, reading, painting, hiking, crafting, socializing, dining, volunteering, and doing whatever it is you enjoy doing most.
Pennswood Village has made many efforts to broaden the community’s horizons through the diversity of residents and staff who live and work there. As a Quaker retirement community, Pennswood Village strives for diversity in many ways.
Pennswood’s Board of Directors has organized a Diversity Task Force to take on the challenge of enhancing, celebrating and honoring diversity and inclusiveness at Pennswood Village. The task force is made up of residents, staff, board members, and several people from the broader community and is responsible for arranging and encouraging diversity efforts.
“Everyone has a story, and they’re interesting and worth listening to,” says Betsy Crofts, former board member and Diversity Task Force member.
The Pennswood Village campus is in full bloom this spring. Browse these beautiful photos below by Yoma Ullman, photographer and resident.
When Mike and Bobbi Posen moved to Pennswood Village a few years ago, they were quickly invited by their peers to become Chairs of the Trips Committee. The committee is a group of interested residents who brainstorm, organize, plan, and execute countless trips each year for the residents of Pennswood. Mike and Bobbi couldn’t say no to the offer, and as West Coast natives, joined the committee to learn more about the area.
“You might think that living in a senior living community is about retiring,” says Mike. “But we have been busier than ever planning and participating in some of the offerings that we have.” Bobbi adds, “Sometimes we have to intentionally schedule days to stay home!”
As Chairs, their role is to help plan and structure meetings with a group of about 12 fellow resident committee members. At the monthly meetings, they brainstorm places to visit, review suggestions submitted by other residents, and decide which places would make excellent trips.
Any Pennswood resident can suggest a trip to the committee, and many residents have personal ties to favorite destinations. For example, residents often visit the James. A. Michener Art Museum, which was co-founded by Herman Silverman, a current Pennswood resident. Another new resident and alum of the University of Pennsylvania recently organized a trip to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
With TV shows like Tiny House Nation on the FYI Network, an entire movement toward downsizing to sustainable, eco-friendly living is sweeping the nation. In downsizing your house and possessions, and ridding yourself of household maintenance and chores, individuals can gain the freedom of an active lifestyle and the time to pursue passions. Living smaller can offer a new perspective on an active retirement and a new energy to senior living.
Many seniors have already downsized (or right-sized as we like to think of it!) to tiny home living by moving to a continuing care retirement community like Pennswood Village. Right-sizing from a house with extra bedrooms and multiple bathrooms to an apartment home, gives you time to spend on things you enjoy and takes away all the work of maintaining a house.
Residents move to continuing care retirement communities for a variety of reasons: the amenities, exceptional healthcare options, they’re tired of cooking, to eliminate house maintenance, and many others.
But once many residents move in, they come to find there are so many more reasons than they had originally imagined.
We asked several recent Pennswood residents to share what they wish they had known before moving to Pennswood Village. See what they had to say below.
Pennswood Village residents Nancy and Henry Arnold were planning a trip to Paris last year. As former life-long New Yorkers, they thrive in an urban setting and were looking forward to seeing as much of the City of Lights as possible – on foot, like good urban dwellers. Nancy was challenged by growing health concerns that her trip to Paris would change from long strolls by the Seine and hours in museums to being unable to participate in these activities. Coffee sitting in cafes is only enjoyable up to a point. The neuropathy in her feet was getting worse and she had recently begun using a walker to help with stability and balance. Her back had begun to curve from all of the looking down that she needed to do to maintain her balance.
After talking about the challenges of bringing a walker to Paris, Henry suggested she try Nordic Poles, something they had seen all ages using throughout a lifetime of travel in Europe. Nancy got her first set of poles in June and “immediately I felt a change in my body,” she says.
Last November, the Pennswood community gathered to recognize and celebrate diversity at a World Café event, organized and hosted by the Pennswood Village Diversity Task Force. Residents, staff, board, and guests came together to answer one stimulating question about family, traditions, learning, culture, and more.
Marsha Wesley Coleman, Director of Leadership Development and Training at Friends Services for the Aging, facilitated the workshop, leading the group with the question “What family traditions and cultures have been most impactful to your life’s journey?”
World Café is a powerful social technology and methodology for engaging people in conversations that matter. Based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life, the World Café is more than a method, a process, or technique – it’s a way of thinking and being together sourced in a philosophy of conversational leadership.
She was commenting on The Art of Living Lightly Project that was part of the community’s 35th-year anniversary celebration in 2015.
When Pennswood Village announced its slogan, “The Art of Living,” for the anniversary year, several residents decided to take it a step further. They created “The Art of Living Lightly” Project.
Sponsored by the Environmental Concerns Committee, the Project was co-chaired by Anne Baber, Lynne Waymon, and Todd Waymon. Each month during 2015, they focused on one environmental issue.