Riding Through Life in a Senior Living Community

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grandfather biking in retirement communitySam Nicholson has four new reasons to celebrate. This is the number of gold medals the lifelong bicyclist took home in September at the New Jersey Senior Olympics. Not only is Sam proud of his recent accomplishments, but he is happy to have encouragement from an entire community at his home, Friends Village, a Quaker residence located in Newtown, Pa.

For Sam, biking was a primary mode of transportation growing up. He was born and raised in Japan where his parents worked as Quaker missionaries. “I had a small bike and would have a hard time keeping up with my father,” Sam said with a laugh.

Although his family moved back to the U.S., Sam chose to return to Japan, where he continued his love of biking in the countryside. After teaching English there in his 20s, he met his wife as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. When their first child was born, they moved to Japan and later welcomed another son.

The Nicholsons eventually returned to the states and settled in the Southampton area to be near Sam’s wife’s family. Over the years, their sons left the nest and their family grew with two grandchildren.

It was in 1996 that the couple faced an important decision. Sam’s wife, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, was already finding it increasingly difficult to remain independent when she broke her hip. Realizing they needed extra care and support, they made the move to Friends Village, which they were already familiar with through his mother-in-law and members of their local meeting who served on the Board.

Providing residences for individuals 62 years and older, Friends Home and Village consists of two campuses located in the Newtown Borough and Township. While Friends Village offers independent living for 40 residents, Friends Home includes 17 independent apartments along with 21 private rooms licensed for personal care services.

For low entrance fees, residents have flexible meal plans, housekeeping services and laundry facilities along with access to local fitness centers, parks and restaurants. Following his wife’s passing, Sam has remained at Friends Village, where he appreciates the 24-hour onsite staff and available care. “The staff is amazing,” he said. “There’s a feeling of family between them and the residents, which makes this a really unique and special place.”

He also enjoys participating in different activities, including the gardening club which grows produce often used for meals at the community. These green efforts have greatly appealed to Sam, who began biking more often after giving up driving due to macular degeneration.

“I knew I was unique being the only person who used a bike as transportation,” he said. “I hope to encourage people to bicycle when going somewhere local and exercise more for their health.”

Sam, however, may have just inspired his peers to do so after his success in the Senior Olympics, an event he learned about through his neighbor. With the help of the Central Bucks Bicycle Club, he attended the games to place first in the 5K, 10K, 20K and 40K races. Proud of his wins, Sam was especially delighted to return to Friends Village where his fellow residents and staff greeted him with cheers of excitement and a rendition of “God Bless America.”

Having the support of this family for not only his daily pursuits but his potential needs has only further proven to Sam that he chose the right home to spend his future years.

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