A Well-Balanced Retirement
From Salt Lake City to San Jose and from Nebraska to Arizona, Beverly Richards lived throughout the American west. She also made a home in Puerto Rico for several years and spent some time in the deep south. The wide range of cultural experiences she had throughout the country made for quite a journey. Eventually settling on the east coast, Beverly found a community with all the luxuries of an eastern city and the relaxed atmosphere of a west coast town.
During her childhood in Salt Lake City, Beverly was awed by stories of relatives who migrated across the country to become the founding members of the city. She recounts tales of her great-grandparents’ treacherous journeys across the prairies to reach the then-emerging town.
Her childhood was filled with song and dance. Beverly began to cultivate her talent at a young age in large part because of her musical parents. “My father sang, and my mother played the piano and organ. That’s how they met,” she says.
Beverly’s own love story started in an unlikely place: a biology lab at the University of Utah. She laughs as she recalls, “I was taking a lab, and he was the graduate student teaching the class. He was really not a great teacher. At first, I thought he was just a nerd.” Her “nerd,” Charles, may not have been particularly adept in the classroom, but he had a phenomenal understanding of science, and despite a rocky start, formed an easy connection with Beverly. The two were married in 1943.
After their marriage, Charles went back to school and received a Ph. D. in Parasotology from Stanford. Parasotology is the study of parasitic life forms and how they affect humans. It was Charles’ work as a scientist that took the couple all over the country. After a three year teaching career at San Jose State, Charles joined the Public Health Service. This job led to placements in Nebraska, Arizona, Georgia, and Puerto Rico.
Charles and Beverly had two sons and a daughter, and Beverly devoted her time to raising their children in a variety of locales. She recalls good times with her family throughout the country-from the perfect weather of Phoenix to the gastronomic pleasures of Puerto Rico.
When Charles was offered a position with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the family made the move to the D.C. metro area. Shortly thereafter, Beverly received her certification to teach elementary school. She taught first grade at Farmland Elementary School in Rockville for 13 years. Her students provided much inspiration. “I still think of this child who had really struggled. One day, I handed him a new book, and his face just lit up. He said, ‘I can read.’ That was like a million dollars!,” Beverly recalls.
Although her time in the classroom was rewarding, Beverly found the transition to life on the east coast to be difficult at first. She says, “There seems to be a lot more concern for money and status symbols here, which I didn’t experience growing up in the west. You just have to ignore those artificial standards.” Always the relaxed westerner, Beverly created a casual atmosphere in their Bethesda home.
When Charles developed dementia, Beverly cared for him in their home until he moved to a community that specialized in dementia care. It was at this time that Beverly began to consider a move herself. Her search for a retirement community was expedited by an unexpected fall.
She explains, “I was working out and slimming down for one of my granddaughter’s weddings, and I slipped and fell and broke my shoulder.” In the ensuing weeks, she was dependent on her daughter for care and transportation. She knew then that she wanted to move to a retirement community to maintain her independence.
Beverly started her search at Kensington Park Retirement Community. Her daughter lives in Kensington, MD, so she was already familiar with the charming community. “We just came over to look at Kensington Park one afternoon. The outside of the building was so architecturally attractive that we were impressed right away. And then we walked in. It was lovely! The staff was so caring and made us feel welcome from the start,” Beverly relates. She made the decision to move to Kensington Park almost immediately.
Kensington Park Retirement Community is made up of three distinctive residences, which together provide a supportive lifestyle specially catered to residents’ individual needs. The Highlands is an independent living residence and is comprised of 61 studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. Assisted living is provided at The Woodlands and The Groves. The two buildings house 140 companion suites, one-room suites, and two-room suites. Residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia receive specialized care in the 26 suites located in The Groves.
When an independent living apartment became available while she was selling her house, Beverly jumped at the chance to move right away. She quickly realized that the relaxed atmosphere she had been looking for had been right down the street all along. “I like Kensington so much! It is such a great community, and it really was refreshing to move here from Bethesda, which has really grown and changed. The houses just keep getting bigger and bigger; it’s just about display,” says Beverly.
At Kensington Park, she enjoys a pleasurable lifestyle. She says, “Dinner is served in the dining room every night, complete with tablecloths and napkins.” The well-appointed community is filled with easy-going and like-minded residents. “Everyone here is so nice. We are all so open, and everyone participates,” Beverly notes.
In her east coast residence, Beverly has found a sense of security. She spends her mornings walking on the nearby track and participates in exercise classes at the community. Trips organized by the community’s Activity Director are also a favorite pastime. Playing the piano in her apartment and volunteering at the nearby Audubon Naturalist Society fill out her day.
The absence of daily chores keeps Beverly’s schedule open. “It’s amazing,” she says. “Think about it! Living at Kensington Park means that I don’t have to worry about shopping unless I want to. I don’t have to prepare dinner unless I want to. I really don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. ”
Beverly’s experiences throughout life ultimately influenced her retirement living decision. Her life at Kensington Park includes an array of culture opportunities, the security of available care, and the company of good people.
Far from her west coast home town, Beverly found a retirement destination that melds the best of both coasts; her discovery has led to a well-balanced retirement.