Retirement Housing Community: A Family Affair

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seniors stay together in assisted living communityThe Meckley siblings’ childhood was filled with family card tournaments, afternoons spent making sure all the farm chores were completed, and weekend picnics in the park near their home. They have fond memories of spending each day in a picturesque rural setting, balancing the wide open spaces with a constant sense of closeness.

With the exception of the chores, the two sisters and a brother – along with their spouses – plan to spend their retirement years in the same way. Only now they’ll be just a short walking distance away from each other.

The siblings Jean Sprenkle, Marguerite Nonemaker and Donald Meckley, along with their respective spouses David, Kenneth and Mary Louise, recently moved to Lutheran Retirement Village at Utz Terrace. The continuing care retirement community, one of six of the Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pennsylvania, was the ideal place for the family to spend their retirement together.

Jean, Marguerite and Donald were three of 13 children, all of whom were born between 1913 and 1939. The group of siblings – comprising 7 girls and 6 boys – grew up on a family farm in rural Pennsylvania.

“Everybody helped cook, everybody pitched in,” explained Jean. “We got along, and always came home to Mom and Dad.”

Though they strayed in different directions professionally, nearly all of the siblings chose to live near one another in adulthood. Marguerite opened a beauty parlor, Jean was ascended through the ranks to become the Vice President and Manager of a local bank branch and Donald continued the legacy of his parents by tending his own farm.

One thing the brothers and sisters had in common was a strong connection with each other, and they cultivated that bond from childhood to retirement.

“We had never gone very long without seeing each other for our whole lives,” said Marguerite. “We were always very close with each other, and got together frequently for things like Christmas at Jean’s.”

First to sign on with Lutheran Retirement Village at Utz Terrace was the family’s second-to-youngest sibling Jean, who wanted to move to a continuing care community near her former home. She and her husband David were very much impressed by the community’s scenic walking trails, an on-site community center and residences with ample storage space. But what really sold the couple was the 2-car garage offered in select units.

“David was very impressed with the 2-car garages,” said Jean, with a laugh. “And the staff was phenomenal. One woman who worked there knew we really wanted the 2-car garage, but the spots were filling up fast. She called us and warned us so we wouldn’t miss our chance, and we signed up right away. I thought that was so nice of her to take the extra time to keep us updated.”

Just a few weeks after moving in, Jean began to pitch the idea of living at the community to siblings Don and Marguerite and their spouses. After an initial visit, the other sister and brother were eager to sign up as well. Both couples signed up for cottages just a few blocks away from Jean and David.

The 45-acre community is still undergoing construction this summer, but will boast quite the variety of amenities once completed. A community center, with a restaurant, fitness center, bank, convenience store, salon, computer lab, library and social room, will be among the grandest of buildings in the community.

“The community center is a great place for gathering and playing cards, just like old times,” said Don. “I can imagine our families will use it pretty often, especially for the bigger tournaments.”

Lutheran Retirement Village at Utz Terrace has a variety of residences available, including 74 duplex homes, 38 one or two bedroom apartments, an assisted living residence and a skilled nursing care enter. Residents changing needs are met by caring, qualified staff members throughout their stay-note change in sentence.

“My husband really wanted a place we could count on when we are no longer able to take care of ourselves,” said Jean. “He needed the peace of mind knowing that we had continuing care.”

Also appealing to the families was the community’s rural appearance, with sprawling green fields and vast skies that seem to soar upward for miles. In fact, all three couples moved to Lutheran Retirement Village at Utz Terrace straight from large family-sized homes on several acres of land.

“We moved from a 10-room home with an attic and a basement to our five rooms here,” said Mary Louise. “We obviously haven’t kept everything, but we are very happy with the storage room here.”

Though she said she will miss a few of the farm’s rites of passages, such as the freezing and canning of their own vegetables, Mary Louise looks forward to the opportunities that lay ahead, such as gardening, horseshoes and most importantly, spending time with her siblings who are a short walk away.

“We all love each other,” she said. “In fact, the three of us are trying to get another sister to come live at Lutheran as well, and we think she’s going to say yes!”

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