Executive Community Director Liz Andropoli joins us to share what it's like to live in an independent living community, and debunk some common myths about senior living.

Video Transcript

- Hello everyone, and welcome in to "Senior Living Live." My name is Melissa. I hope you are having a fantastic day today. Well, we are checking in with Arbor Communities, their staff members, their residents to help you get to know some of the people who work behind the scenes, who live at the communities, so that they can share their experiences, and tell you all about senior living. Today, we are going to introduce you to Liz Andropoli, the executive director at Arbor Terrace Teaneck in New Jersey. How are you doing today, Liz?

- Wonderful. Thank you for asking, Melissa. And I'm really excited to be part of sharing about my community at Teaneck.

- Yeah, we're excited to hear it, too. And your community is a little unique. We'll get to that in just a minute, but first, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how long you've been with The Arbor Company.

- Well, I have been part of The Arbor Company for a little over five years now, but part of the Teaneck community for nine years. And I've been doing an executive director's position for almost 20 years now. And it's, I take great pleasure in being able to help my families, and residents, and my team members.

- Yeah, and your community is a little unique because it is all about independent living. And so, what exactly is independent living, as it relates to a senior living community, and why would someone want to look at this kind of living arrangement?

- Well, independent living communities, or, well, I'm gonna speak directly about mine, it's a very carefree and active lifestyle that a senior can expect. And why seniors are looking for an independent living community is because they have full control of every aspect of their daily living, in comparison to an assisted living. So, they make the choices as to what programs they want to enjoy, what meals, whether they're dining in or out, or when it comes to care, how little or as much as they would like. And they control all aspects of that.

- Yeah, and we hear it all the time when it comes to aging. And this is for all of us. I don't care how old you are. If you don't use it, you lose it, right? And so, the more active you are as you continue to age, it seems, the longer you tend to put things off from an age standpoint, when it comes to our bodies and our minds. So, is there an age range for independent living? Who's coming in to live at this community?

- Okay, so, typically, the age range for a starting point for an independent living community, you're looking at 62 and over. And believe it or not, in my community, I have a few that are in their late 60s and early 70s, but I have an amazing woman who is 105 years old. This woman is very active, does not have any care, does not take any medication. She is one that hits the gym every morning, on the treadmill, and is part of exercising every day. And she's a completely amazing woman. So, we can allow someone that comes in at 62, and as you say, if they're able to keep active, be mentally stimulated, continue to age in place to 105 without any care or meds, and it's an amazing situation to see. So, it's, like I said, being as active, or carefree, or as relaxed as you choose to be, and that's what we offer.

- Okay, now, that's an amazing story. This woman sounds incredible. And I'm already thinking of a future "Senior Living Live" with this woman to tell us her aging secrets, and how she's able to be independent at 105 years old. That is incredible. Thank you for sharing that. Now, your community is exclusively independent living. So when people come to you, and ask you about the community, what sort of ideas or preconceived notions do people have about senior living, and how is independent living at Arbor Terrace Teaneck different than what people initially imagine?

- Okay, so, interesting enough, most people, when they come in, and they think about senior living, and they are not quite sure what independent living is, they're thinking that there is gonna be some level of support when it comes to care. And we do have that in place through third-party providers. But when they actually see how much support they get with meals, and housekeeping, and a rich, engaged lifestyle, as well as a maintenance-free, then they realize that, "Wow, I'm getting all of the support that I need in a complete standalone, independent living community." So then they start to dig deeper about the pros and cons of an independent living community, and they come to find out, as I mentioned before, the aging in place, the support that there is, that there's no further need than an independent living community, 'cause it offers so much.

- Yeah, that's great. And you mentioned a rich style of living, and it feels that way, and for your community especially. I know Arbor has a couple of independent living communities, but yours in particular is so unique because of the backdrop. Right there, you've got New York City in your backyard, right across the bridge, Manhattan. How do you cater to those who really want that sort of hustle and bustle of the big city, but they, you may have other people that maybe they like it a little bit more quiet?

- Well, that's the beauty of what Teaneck has to offer, being 20 minutes from Manhattan. So, how we cater to those that like the hustle and bustle, it's all about Broadway. I can't tell you how many Broadway shows our residents attend. Not to mention, all of the museums that they go to, from the Museum of Modern Art, to the Metropolitan, to the Frick, to Museum of Natural History. I mean, it's all covered in Museum Mile. That's what New York is known for. Not to mention, restaurants like Sardi's. There is an actual restaurant where they go to, and I'm sorry that it escapes my name, but that the actors, when they're not performing in Broadway, they actually work at this restaurant, and they do live performance, singing performances, as they wait on your table, and it's a beautiful experience. So our residents go to have a nice lunch at Sardi's to interact and do the, and shopping as well. So, that's how we cater to the hustle-and-bustle crowd. But then we're so nicely positioned by the Teaneck Conservancy Creek, which is such a nice nature trail. They have a butterfly garden, they have a labyrinth for meditation. So it's just a serene background. In our front yard, we'll see things like the deer just grazing off of our property. We could see the ducks, the little ducklings as they walk over. It's such a peaceful, when you wake up in the morning, could sit out and have a cup of coffee, and actually see nature, and listen to the birds, and all the different species of the birds. So, we have the best of both worlds. And we're nicely tucked away, so it's not so like high-traffic areas. So you don't hear all the loud noises of the trucks passing by, even though we're there, close to the city. So it's really a nice community.

- Yeah, so can you lower your age range? I think I need to go pack a bag.

- Oh, trust me, I have my longs, I'm on the wait list. I'm all the way down on the wait list, but believe it or not, I'm closer to that point, and in a few years, I could be moving in there.

- Oh, that, it just sounds like a dream. It sounds wonderful. And so, you've done a pretty good job already there, setting up what a typical day living at your community looks like. But when you start to add in the engagement opportunities, and as it relates towards us sort of getting out of COVID, and what all that meant to everyone a year ago, what does a typical day look like for someone living there?

- Oh, wow, so, anywhere from shopping excursions, as I mentioned, outings, lunch bunch outings, going to the movies. Very active crowd. And the residents that drive go out on their own, but also, we take them to lectures, performers coming in, entertainers, happy hour. Happy hour is a big to-do. It's great social. We always have a nice signature drink ready. And we take requests. So we have some great bartenders working in our community. So, it's resident-driven. So you can see anywhere from intellectual programs, book clubs, current events, play improv, to active, dance classes. We have Zumba, we have Tai Chi, yoga. You name it, we have it. And it's because of the age range, we can cover very active to a low, low key, with some favorites of bingos, and pokeno, and things like that, poker players, bridge, and things of that nature.

- You ran through a very exhaustive list there. That is just wonderful. And I know a lot of that, you were still able to do, some of it you were able to do with COVID, some of it, not so much, but now we're getting back to the socialization aspect. And that is so wonderful. And I know our seniors have been waiting a long time to get back into that, to see their friends, and to hang out with all the community members. So, great for you guys to be able to get back to that. Now, speaking of COVID, because so many people, especially those who might be a little bit older, might be within that age range, but independent, but put off making that leap to senior living because of COVID, trying to keep the spread down. How does the community look and feel now as opposed to maybe a year ago? And what would you tell someone who is looking to make that move to senior living? Is now a good time?

- Now is an excellent time. Actually, we've found that a large number of the younger move-ins that we have, right, 'cause like I mentioned, I have people in their late 60s, early 70s, came to realize, after COVID, being alone wasn't the best solution. And they felt so isolated. And then coming into a community where they see live entertainment, that things have been going on, and they've actually been going on since last year, just in limited capacity, that they're ready for the move. They're ready to enjoy other companies, learn new skills, go on outings, and they're ready. So, anyone that's out there that you're afraid of making the move, don't be. It's, communities now are so safe. My community, I can speak of, we're all vaccinated. All my residents are vaccinated, my team members are vaccinated, and we are, test on a regular basis. So, this is the time. This is the time to come out after being isolated for so long, to experience what life has to offer, retirement your way. The independence, the creativity, everything that you're looking for, it's available in an independent living community, or in an Arbor Community, 'cause there's something for everyone.

- You got it. You hit the nail on the head. We are talking about independent living, but it really is just one neighborhood that is offered at Arbor Communities, and yours is a fantastic independent living community. So, we so appreciate you taking the time to tell us a little bit about yourself and about your community.

- Well, again, thank you for the opportunity, and giving me the offer to share about my community and about The Arbor Company. And it's been a pleasure chatting with you.

- Yeah, thank you so much, Liz, over at Arbor Terrace Teaneck, check her out if you are looking at an independent living situation. So, if you've enjoyed this interview with Liz, you can head on over to www.SeniorLivingLive.com for more of our video content, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As always, we appreciate you watching "Senior Living Live." Have a great day, everybody.

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