Taking It All In: Life at a Retirement Community

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Mary Klemmer Addresses Cards to Senior Care Residents

When she is not visiting with friends for coffee at Frey Village or enjoying a day outing, Mary Klemmer is busy volunteering and addressing birthday cards to her peers at the retiremnet community.

A vibrant, active senior, Mary Klemmer was adamant that she would never leave her home. But when a fall left her unconscious for three days before she was found and hospitalized, she knew she had to revisit her decision.

Her family set out on a search for a Continuing Care Retirement Community that could provide the necessary health-care services Mary needed right away, but also complement the busy lifestyle she enjoyed. Not sure where to turn, they were referred to Frey Village, a Diakon Lutheran Senior Living Community in Middletown, Pa.

“My daughter and granddaughter came here right away, looked at it and loved it!” says Mary, who recovered from her fall with the help of Frey Village’s nursing and rehabilitative care services before moving into her one-bedroom apartment. “The nurses and therapists keep saying, ‘We can’t believe it’s you!’ when they see me.”

Completely independent, the 90-year-old woman fills her days with lots of activities. Whether she is volunteering in the village’s Country Store, assisting the chaplain, or taking her daily walk around campus, she is never at a loss for something to do.

“I really think that my whole family cannot believe the adjustment I’ve made here and that I love it,” she says. “I try to be involved as much as possible. There is always something”””such as the village’s annual Strawberry Festival, Mount Gretna art outings, unique community involvements including one with students from the Diakon Wilderness Center, and a range of interesting and scenic trips”””in which you can become involved.”

Mary also looks forward to Frey Village’s weekly dinner outings to a Middletown-area church as a time to socialize and have fun with her dinner companions.

“I go every single week because I am so amazed at the town of Middletown, how friendly all the people are in these churches and how many helpful volunteers there are,” she says. “Even if I didn’t eat, I’d think it was wonderful because of the association with the people in town.”

The carefree lifestyle found at Frey Village is a perfect respite for Mary, who spent most of her adult life working in retail management, an industry known for long hours and high stress levels. For 15 years as the owner of Mary’s Bridal House in Lancaster, she handled the formal-dress needs for a variety of special occasions.

“Some weekends I had as many as 25 weddings. I did prom shows. I also did the Miss Lancaster County pageants,” she says. “I think back and don’t know how I ever did it.”

After closing the shop, Mary put her management experience to work for a number of retailers before retiring. To this day, she still volunteers her time to address and send birthday cards to all employees at Hallmark’s 10 stores in the Lancaster area.

“I also send everyone in the Frey Tower Apartments a birthday card,” she says. “That is my new mission.”

When not addressing birthday cards, volunteering, participating in a Frey Village outing, sharing a cup of coffee with a friend, or visiting residents in the community’s personal care center, Mary tends to the plants and flowers on her patio””or “other living room,” as she likes to call the outside space.

“I get up every morning and love to be out there with my coffee, enjoying the view,” she says. “I sometimes just stand out there and can’t believe that I’m here.”

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