The theme of this year’s Older Americans Month this coming May, as designated by the federal government’s Administration of Community Living, is “Connect, Create, Contribute.”
The ACL initiative encourages older adults to reach out to friends, family, and services that support participation; engage in activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment; and to use their time, talent, and life experience to benefit others. Seniors can achieve all three, and then some, with a relocation to The Watermark at 3030 Park, a luxury continuing care retirement community.
The choice to trade in her single family residence in tony Westport for a private luxury apartment at The Watermark at 3030 Park was an easy one for Irene Backalenick, a resident of almost six years at The Watermark’s Independent Living at Town Center, one of its several neighborhoods within the continuing care community. She was eager to participate in physical fitness programs and field trips, take advantage of the convenient location near a transportation hub with a train station to New York City, and give up cooking daily meals. She also looked forward to interacting with other residents.
“The strongest part about The Watermark is the sense of community. I love that,” said Backalenick, who credits this creative, supportive, and vibrant setting with her newfound love for poetry. It was in a writer’s group established there by Backalenick and another resident that she was encouraged to try her hand at poetry. The former New York Times journalist and noted theater reviewer has since become a published poet.
“I had never written a poem before in my life. It started a whole wonderful phase of my life. It couldn’t have happened anywhere but here at The Watermark,” she said.
The sense of community may be the strongest but it is not the only reason she and many others find The Watermark at 3030 Park so appealing.
“I like the high-rise urban look of The Watermark. It’s an attractive, clean facility, and the apartments are really beautiful here, and they are so different, each from the other,” Backalenick said, pointing out that at other active adult communities she considered the living spaces were limited to only “models A, B, and C.” Additionally, she said, “I have a nice view of Long Island Sound. It’s one of the pluses of Watermark.”
There are 180 independent living apartments that range from 600 square feet to 2,100 square feet with about 30 different floor plans. Each apartment is a bit different, according to The Watermark’s Sales Director Denise Rozelle. Some have balconies. Some have small kitchens and for those people who enjoy cooking there are larger kitchens, not the tiny kitchenettes and cookie-cutter floor plans of some adult communities. “It’s true independent living,” Rozelle said.
For those who, like Backalenick, prefer dining “out” residents have the option of taking meals in a casual café or in the main dining room where they can order a four-course meal restaurant-style, Rozelle said.
“One of the things that’s most important to many of us here is having dinner at night. It’s part of our package (as is breakfast) and it’s a time of socializing,” Backalenick said. Having a lot of friends there is a highlight, she said.
Rozelle said The Watermark also features a long list of amenities including a full-service hair salon and spa with a massage room, an indoor swimming pool, and a fitness center and yoga room. “We teach Tai Chi, stretch and balance, and we have amazing equipment that was specifically designed and manufactured for seniors,” Rozelle said. In addition to outings – including monthly excursions to Manhattan, The Watermark offers a dynamic and full calendar of activities, and about 60 stimulating Watermark University classes each quarter. While outings take residents to local museums, theaters and other cultural institutions, the outside world is also brought in. Rozelle said lecturers talk about history, art, and other subjects, and musicians representing eclectic genres perform for residents on site.
Backalenick had no trouble making the transition but, for some people, moving from a long-time comfortable home in a familiar neighborhood to a new community with unfamiliar faces can be emotional and daunting. The Watermark community helps with that as well. On staff is a full-time move-in coordinator, Cindy Dungey, who makes the move easy. Dungey goes to the prospective resident’s current house, works with them on the floor plan of the new apartment, helps them decide what to bring, schedules the movers, and she’ll even do some shopping of special items, Rozelle said. “She’s here on move day to help unpack and hang pictures. No other community offers that service, and we pay for that service. That’s at no additional charge to residents,” she said.
The Watermark at 3030 Park offers a unique culture built on choice providing independent living, enhanced living, assisted living, memory care, and rehabilitation and skilled nursing all on one campus. Residents can connect with the services they want or need while making new friends and building a community of their own within the framework of The Watermark’s wealth of amenities.
“Once a loved one moves into our community they never have to leave because we have different neighborhoods that can take care of them no matter what they should need. Everything is here on our campus,” Rozelle said.
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