Senior Living: “Hats On” To Retirement!

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active adults enjoy activities at assited living communityEvery month, Sonny Brodsky and Sarah Kolodner, along with dozens of other women, gather together with a shared quality a timeless enthusiasm for living life with humor, curiosity and friendship

The women, residents of Martins Run Senior Residential Retirement Community, comprise the Martins Run chapter of the Red Hat Society, whose members are known for wearing beautiful, crimson hats and gloves during their meetings.

The Red Hat Society encourages women, many of whom have worked and provided for others their entire lives, to turn some focus back on themselves and simply have fun. When Sonny Brodsky heard about the Society from a friend, she was inspired to start the Martins Run chapter.

“One of the wonderful aspects of Martins Run is that the community is small enough that everyone has a voice,” said Sonny. “The staff listens to ideas at monthly meetings, and goes the extra mile to make them happen.”

The Red Hat Society has been a special joy for Sonny, who is 84 years old. “We’ve had so many meaningful and educational get-togethers,” she said.

Meetings have included new book reviews with a local librarian, historical tours of Philadelphia and a visit to an area restaurant school. One recent guest was a woman from India who told stories about her ethnicity and gave the Red Hat ladies a demonstration of how India’s traditional sari dresses are worn.

But for Sonny, the most memorable gathering was one that included her niece and nephew.

“They did a reading of the famous holocaust story Address Unknown, by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor,” she said. “It was an incredibly moving recitation for many of us.”

Sonny, who is involved in many other activities in the community, lives a fast-paced and generous life. Married for more than 61 years to her husband Mel, Sonny has always been a dedicated caregiver to him and their three children. She also tended to both her and Mel’s mothers in their golden years.

About three years ago, Mel and Sonny decided they wanted to move to a full-service retirement community with on-site healthcare. “We had looked at all of the area’s offerings, but Martins Run was the one place that felt like home,” said Sonny. “It’s a caring community- everyone knows each other by name.”

The community enables Sonny to pursue an independent, activity-filled lifestyle, while still spending a significant part of her day in The Meadows at Martins Run, the skilled nursing unit where Mel resides.

“I’m still able to care for Mel as best I can without worrying that anything will happen when I can’t be there,” says Sonny. “There’s also a Caregivers Group for people who are tending to an ailing spouse or family member, which is an enormous support.”

When she’s not with Mel, Sonny is busy learning Hebrew and taking courses offered at Martins Run University, a lifelong learning program that aims to inspire residents to continue their education.

The Scarlet Spirit
Some members call Sarah Kolodner, who usually arrives adorned in the Society’s signature attire and colors, the most spirited member of the Martins Run Red Hat Society.

“Most of the women just wear a red hat,” said Sarah. “In addition to my old fashioned velvet hat, I have the red shirt, necklace, pin and purse.”

Sarah has become a dedicated member of the women’s group because she has found the discussion topics to be creative and culturally stimulating. But meetings are also a great time to relax and just have fun.

“The Martins Run staff goes the extra mile to make sure the gatherings are well coordinated, from the transportation to and from the event to providing delicious refreshments,” she explained.

Learning has always been important to Sarah. Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, she was a dedicated teacher for 35 years. Sarah worked with senior high school students and taught business subjects such as accounting, bookkeeping and typing.

“Being a teacher and helping students achieve their goals was incredibly rewarding to me,” she said. “I still run into my students to this day and it’s very meaningful when they tell me that I’ve had an impact on their lives.”

Sarah met her husband Meyer at a social mixer, and they have been married for more than 55 years. “We have three children and seven grandchildren who live in Atlanta, Seattle and Israel,” she said.

The couple consider themselves lucky, because they are very healthy and able to travel across the globe to be with their family several times a year. But about three years ago when they’d had enough of their home’s constant maintenance, Sarah and Meyer decided to move to Martins Run.

“One of the reasons we decided on Martins Run is because we had longtime friends who were already living here and very happy,” explained Sarah. “While we miss being near our children, this is a great community because it’s close to all the places we’ve always known.”

Sarah has also made many new friends by being involved in the cultural offerings offered at the community. A few times a week she attends yoga and exercise classes. She continues to knit a variety of scarves and sweaters when time allows- a creative, relaxing hobby she’s enjoyed her whole life. She’s also a fan of the Martins Run University classes and attends them on a regular basis.

“I really enjoy how diverse the topics are,” she said. “The speakers are experts in their field, and encourage us to participate in the discussion.”

Sarah finds that she often must choose between two enriching events she really wants to attend because of Martins Run’s full schedule.

“You will never find me passing up a Red Hat Society meeting, though,” she said. “The laughs we have and the fascinating presenters always make it an interesting occasion.”

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